How to Travel Without Leaving Home // Essay
If you’re a woman, your paycheck most likely features the “average U.S. wage differential." This means you are experiencing the Canadian exchange rate without leaving your own country. Set aside hostile work environments, corporate HR initiatives, heated internet discussions and all the rest. 78 cents on the dollar in the US means you can't buy as much with your paycheck, full stop. It's no wonder that more and more women are looking to create their own paychecks by way of entrepreneurship, and it's telling that most report feeling more in control of their economic destinies entering the volatile world of funding, IP defense, and making payroll than they did as an employee.
But that 1:0.78 ratio is for white women. Race is another factor, with African-American women and men earning 63 and 72 cents on the dollar, respectively. Or, the net impact of trading in every paycheck for Bulgarian or New Zealand currency. We recently interviewed Danielle Kayembe, the female futurist and entrepreneur whose Refinery 29 article "The Silent Rise of the Female-driven Economy" predicts and asserts the inevitability of women at the center of our economic growth and workplace equity efforts. She says, "I think the reality is that most women are multidisciplinary, by nature or by circumstance." Verrah is an anomaly among most agencies. All leadership positions are held by women, including management. This has not been by design—it happened because, like all small companies, we value versatility. For an agency at our scale, being multitalented is an incredibly valuable employee attribute. Hiring a battalion of siloed specialists is inefficient and unsustainable. Smart, adaptable people make your clients happy and you money.
Women control over $14 trillion of assets within the US alone. Women make 85% of consumer purchases and purchase decisions. While our team has been doing women-centered work for almost a decade, our agency has recently doubled our capacity. We've put a focus on being the company that helps businesses be more relevant to women, because it's our passion. But even plain math—see the numbers above—would support this business decision. The economic force of an underrepresented demographic that has started to find its place at the table is quite a sight to behold. It's even better to participate in.
A few months back, I saw Michelle Obama speak. Host Roxane Gay asked her about the role of women in the economy and Obama commented, "You know what's crazy? Advertisers will market to our kids before they will market to us." This rampant business error runs across all sectors, and it's clear that the first companies to run the numbers will outrun their competitors. As Teen Talk Barbie used to say, "Math class is tough!"
This month, I’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh to moderate a panel on workplace parity. The panelists include talent acquisition executives Jeesoo Sohn from Duolingo and Caitlin McLaughlin from PNC Bank, along with Julia Poepping from Red Chair. Another thought leader in the diversity and inclusion space, anupama jain (who does not capitalize her name), will also join. People who spend their days thinking about how to solve the problem of workplace inequity can help lead the charge. But it will take a lot of people putting our heads together to get Americans better paycheck deals than exchange rates that erode their financial power.