In a few short weeks I will be speaking at llex North America, an Innovation Insights conference. It is geared toward research, data, and how businesses use data to make growth decisions. Data are key to understanding how things actually work and what people really think about your product or service.

For my presentation and case study, I chose Salesforce, which is a publicly-traded company that builds customer relationship management software. The reason I landed on Salesforce is because the company is a great example of how to make equal pay a reality in the workplace.

My heart sang with excitement when I heard about Salesforces’s goal. Finally! Steps are being taken in the right direction to solve an issue that is not easy to understand. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has made numerous public appearances and is all over the news with his equal pay initiative. He said simply that his organization is all about the people and he considers everyone equal. Following that line of thought, the company started working on the HOW.

Let us remind ourselves that big changes are much easier to manage in small companies where the organizational structure is often straight forward. An intern gets this, a manager gets that, and a director gets this.

But what if a company has been in business for many years and hiring wasn’t as linear during growth periods? What if two managers have different responsibilities and a different number of direct reports? Should the manager who oversees 10 people be paid the same as the manger who oversees 100? Is the manager who has to travel 200,000 miles a year going to be happy with the same compensation as a manager who leaves the office everyday at 5pm?

Consider budget responsibilities and the way data is managed. Employment record keeping for companies with multiple offices in a wide geographic area is often not centralized, and for good reason. Withholdings, taxes, and laws, as just a few examples, vary from state to state and from country to country. It is more common for HR and compensation administration to be localized in multi-national companies.

While the goal of gender pay is commendable and the right thing to do, the HOW is a huge issue. We can’t simply go in and disturb the existing organizational structure. The company would suffer, financial results would suffer, and the people would turn hostile toward each other. Change is not something most people love and embrace.

Moving to equal pay requires a team to put metrics and systems in place that allow comparisons between, scope, duties, and responsibilities of each position within the company.

Suddenly equal pay doesn’t sound so easy.

(Here is something else you need to know about the gender pay gap.)

The NAFE (National Association of Female Executives) publishes a report of the top workplaces for women. There are metrics and markers that need to be hit before a company can qualify to be nominated for the list. Requirements include a variety of different programs, like coaching, career counseling, and mentoring programs.

Salesforce estimates it could take up to 10 years for pay to be fully equal between men and women. And herein lies the message to organizations: You must get on this now as the problem will only compound.

The rise of women and the demands that come with equal everything will not go away. When you look at the NAFE statistics you’ll see many of the numbers of women’s advancements are slightly reversing, and that is a big warning sign for consultants and trainers like me. We are going to double our efforts and shout from the rooftops that we are not making progress! And with a potential woman President, things are about to change.

The reason you want to do this now is simple. You can get fantastic publicity, just like Salesforce, if you dare to lean out of the window with such a bold move. Even Hillary Clinton mentioned the company by name. And how has the initiative affected the bottom line at Salesforce? Sales have grown between 23% and 33% across their product lines over last year.

In the other hand, you can continue to do nothing at all about equal pay in your organization. You’ll be part of the shamed group who missed the boat and can get a lot of the wrong kind of publicity. But hey—it’s only your livelihood and reputation that is at stake!

Personally, if I were you I would want to be the leader and get all the recognition that it comes with. You don’t even have to get it right. You just have to do something and be transparent about it!

Perhaps we should have a conversation soon?


At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”

Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.

If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.

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