By Joyce Gannon
Women who are satisfied with their workplace and loyal to their employers are frequently the ones who go above and beyond their job description to recruit colleagues to participate in a charity run or help organize collections for a co-worker who may need assistance because of a sick child.
“They help others realize the firm is a good place, and they work for the overall good of the company, even when it’s not part of their job,” said Daria Crawley, associate professor of management at Robert Morris University who has conducted research on gender roles in business.
Suppose those women who engage in what Ms. Crawley calls “organizational citizenship behaviors” earned the same wages as men. In that case, she said, they would likely be even more motivated to give back their time and talent.
That’s one of the arguments in favor of closing the gap that persists between men’s and women’s wages — an issue Ms. Crawley will address Tuesday during a debate sponsored by the 74 Percent Project at RMU’s Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management.
The Oakland event is a fundraiser for the 74 Percent initiative, which conducts research on women in the nonprofit sector. The project takes its name from the approximate amount on the dollar that women at Pittsburgh-area nonprofits earn compared with men.
The debate was timed to coincide with Equal Pay Day, a public awareness event that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to bring their wages to the level that men earned the prior year.
At the 74 Percent event next week, a panel will debate whether nonprofits should make gender wage disparity a priority issue. Audience members will then vote on the issue.
Besides Ms. Crawley, debaters include Heather Arnet, chief executive of the Women and Girls Foundation; Ruth Ann Dailey, columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Dutch MacDonald, president and chief executive, Maya Design; and Erin Molchany, director of Gov. Tom Wolf’s southwestern Pennsylvania office. The debate moderator is Penina Leiber, partner at the law firm Dinsmore & Shohl.
“It’s important to take a look at this in Pittsburgh because we have lots of nonprofits for our size … and a very large philanthropic community,” Ms. Crawley said.
In a 2014 survey of 1,006 people nationwide, RMU’s Polling Institute found nearly 61 percent of all respondents believe most employers view women as “not needing pay that is equal to their male counterparts in the same positions.”
“They were saying that my employer, not me, doesn’t necessarily see women as needing equal pay as men,” Ms. Crawley said.
Broken out along gender lines, 53 percent of men agreed that employers don’t believe women need equal wages; and 69 percent of women agreed with the statement.
A majority of those polled also agreed that most employers hide salaries to avoid paying men and women equally.
“If there wasn’t inequity, they might not be hiding it,” Ms. Crawley said.
While her research did not focus exclusively on nonprofit organizations, Ms. Crawley said, the findings can be extrapolated to represent the nonprofit sector.
“A large number of women are running these organizations and a large portion of the staff is female, so for me it raises the question, what if they were more satisfied with their pay?”
According to a 2014 study by GuideStar, median compensation for female chief executives at nonprofits nationwide lagged male nonprofit executives’ pay by up to 23 percent, depending on the size of the organization.
“The gender pay gap is still a persistent problem,” said Chuck McLean, vice president of research for the Williamsburg, Va., organization that tracks data on nearly 2 million nonprofits in the U.S.
Last year’s annual compensation report from GuideStar marked the 14th consecutive year that women’s wages at nonprofits were significantly lower than men’s.
Women’s wages aren’t likely to catch up, he said, until nonprofit boards appoint more women to their ranks; and until nonprofits with the largest budgets hire more women as their top executives because those organizations pay the highest salaries.
To push that process along, he said, women may need to “band together and demand change” in a very high-profile way that includes rallies or other public events.
After researching gender pay disparity for 15 years, Mr. McLean said, “I don’t see anything that suggests the gap will be gone at any future time. The idea this is organically going to change is a non-starter.”
The 74 Percent debate event will be held 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Twentieth Century Club, Oakland. Tickets are $74 apiece. To register, call 412-397-6000 or go to www.rmu.edu/bcnmregistration.