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Valuing Diversity In The Workplace

Valuing Diversity In The Workplace

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

As an association, we have done a lot of talking about diversity, especially when it comes to women in our industry. We probably need to talk, because the numbers don’t lie.

Three years ago, Salesforce CEO Mark Benoiff told 60 Minutes that he always thought women working for the $87 billion company received equal pay as men, and that they had an equal opportunity to be promoted. An internal audit of his entire company showed he was wrong, and he immediately approved more than $3 million in raises to create equal pay. Then he walked into an internal meeting and discovered it was all white men making the decisions. From that day on, he declared no meetings could be held unless at least 30% of the participants were women.

To compare what Salesforce is doing to the general public, a study last year by the American Association of University Women found women still only take home about 80 cents for every dollar a man in a similar position earns. Stretching that out over a 47-year career, a woman with a college degree will earn about $1.2 million dollars less in her career than a man, and a woman with a professional graduate degree will earn about $2 million less.

The study also showed that at the rate women’s pay is improving, it should become equal by 2119. That’s one hundred years from now.

Our NAED research shows similar problems when it comes to meetings. About 10-12% of the attendees of the NAED Regional meetings are women. If we used the rule set by Salesforce, there would not be enough women in attendance to hold any meetings.

I had a chance to talk to Susan Elliott-Rink, the CEO and Founder of Allinium, about diversity issues in our workforce. She sums up the situation in one sentence.

“We have done a great job of training women to adapt to the culture, and not change the culture,” she told me. Rink went on to say while there is always talk about attracting women to become a part of our supply chain, our culture has not evolved to a point where women find it to be amazing. “We want women to get that this is an amazing place to build your career. But what makes it amazing? How are we making adjustments to change the culture?”

With the help of Rink, NAED and tED magazine will be recognizing what Rink calls “Guys Who Get It”. “Guys Who Get It” is not about men who follow federal law to make sure they are hiring the correct number of people to meet diversity minimums. Rink points out that they have specific qualities:

  • They feed off the feedback they receive and make changes.
  • They get ahead of the pack and start dealing with diversity issues. It’s not about catching up, it’s about getting ahead.
  • They identify and remove any systemic blind spots that exist in the industry, including processes that are filled with bias, even if they are unconscious bias.
  • They are willing to engage as allies, become a part of the conversation, and become advocates while using their power and position to influence others.

tED magazine will be recognizing “Guys Who Get It” for the first time in the June issue. But this issue isn’t going away any time soon, especially if that pay gap isn’t going away for another one hundred years, so we will continue to follow it, and recognize those people who are working to eliminate the obstacles.

If you know someone you believe should be recognized as one of the “Guys Who Get It” contact tED magazine Publisher Scott Costa at scosta@naed.org.


Publisher’s Note:  After this blog appeared on the NAED.org website, we received the following comment. As a result of this comment, we want to open up the conversation on tedmag.com to get your viewpoint on the issue of diversity and Guys Who Get It. We are encouraging all of you to provide your comments below, which will allow us to shape the discussion on diversity in the future. – S.C.

“It’s great that there’s an effort to make the industry more equal for women, but sadly the fact that the entire program relies on men ‘saving’ women makes it inherently sexist because it assumes women can’t achieve equality without a man stepping in to take over the entire movement. ‘Guys Who Get It’ is, at the end of the day, excluding women from influencing their industry.” – Maria Sitzmann, Manufacturer’s Rep, Wiltrout Sales, Inc.

NAED’s response:
We at NAED really appreciate you beginning a dialogue on this important topic, and sincerely appreciate your comments. Today, the majority of NAED members are men, and to change this statistic, it will be important to take bold actions, assess the reasons, and engage the current members so that they take diversity seriously and look for ways to develop more diverse teams and cultures. How this is accomplished is what we are trying to begin a dialogue on, and thus your comments will help steer our future discussion. — NAED

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Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

Discussion (1 comments)

    Rick Ryan April 13, 2019 / 7:07 am

    the equal pay for women in the electrical industry is & has been unfair in my opinion, when i started my rep firm in 2008 i picked a female partner for many reasons but also made her my 50/50 partner in the rep firm, many people told me i was crazy & that i needed to have the upper hand if needed, my reply. you dont trust your partner! her work,contacts, knowledge,performance, growth, are equal to my expectations in the rep industry.my peers said in the beginning told the industry that Electrical Solutions & Design will be gone & dead in 90 days, guess what? 10 years last year in business with growth every year!!!! women in this industry bring much more than what many say they don’t or can’t. open your eyes (men) …………

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