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The X Factor

August 2, 2011

A friend of mine, a Leader at a fairly large multi-state organization, recently shared a story.

In the not too distant past she was having a conversation with two (male) Execs from the C-Suite; the discussion was focused on the compensation package to be developed for a soon-to-be-promoted female leader.  The new position would change this employee’s title, bonus structure, level in the organization and give her more direct reports and functional accountabilities.  While this was to be somewhat of a “new” position, the company has a pretty thoughtful comp philosophy, plan and structure and this sort of move/promotion was not unheard of for their group.

So the conversation proceeded like this:

C-Suite dude A:  “So what do we want to offer?  Where’s her pay now?”

My Friend:  “She’s currently making $x and I would suggest that based on factors A, B, C and D, we position her new salary at $y.”

C-Suite dude B: “Well, I’m not so sure we need to move that far up with her salary.  After all, her husband makes good money.

C-Suite Dude A:  ** chuckle **

C-Suite Dude B:  ** snicker **

My Friend:  ** O_O **


We like to think that in the year 2011 C.E. this kind of crap doesn’t happen anymore.  Surely there cannot be, in this enlightened (and litigious age), senior executives who find it appropriate to make comments about determining compensation structure based on one’s marital status or gender?  Joking or not, these sorts of comments are totally uncalled for, ridiculous and just plain asinine.  But sadly, I have a sense this sort of stuff continues to occur.  While things may not be said out loud, there are probably still internal-conversations and thoughts that pop into the brains of people making pay decisions that are just like this.

So my friend called these two dudes out on their chatter and their sniggering.  She reminded them that even said in jest these sorts of comments were inappropriate and pointed out to them that marital status and gender had NO place in determining any form of compensation.  To their credit, they sobered up and appeared to move past their ridiculous statement and guffaws.


But it surely gave me pause.  How does one, as a female in an organization who has listened to such a conversation, carry on as if it the comment was unheard?  At what point does she begin to wonder if her pay/compensation was based on some sort of 1960’s notion that married women don’t need to earn the same as their male counterparts?

Oh. Did I mention the C-Suite dudes are solid baby boomers?  And my friend is smack dab in the middle of Gen X?  Does that matter?  Don’t know.

But I found it damn interesting.


photo courtesy of CBS News

One Comment leave one →
  1. HRBR permalink
    August 2, 2011 9:26 am

    I like your friend! Great post, Robin.

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