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Lack Of Opportunities For Women At Work – Not Talent

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Women’s Month; a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. This year, South Africans commemorates the struggle for a more inclusive country under the theme, 25 Years of Democracy: Growing South Africa for Women’s Emancipation.

Perhaps this year’s theme also poses the perfect opportunity for women to define what a gender-equal South Africa looks like to them. And more importantly, what they define as success.

In the wake of this year’s theme, it’s clear that for many, it’s liberating themselves from decades of gender-imposed oppression. But for others it’s more specific; it’s excelling in business because you’re a woman, not despite it.

READ MORE | Eva Longoria Explains How She Reached Her Potential And How She’s Now Helping Others Do The Same

We’ve Been Here

Often, the message surrounding Women’s Month focuses on the evolution of females – implying we were once less capable. Maybe it’s time to consider that we have always been all-powerful but lacked the opportunity to show our worth. This rings true, particularly, in business. Last year’s stats showed a 36% increase in the number of women appointed to leadership roles compared to 2017. We haven’t changed; the perception has.

Owning Femininity in the Workplace

“The business landscape used to be a man’s world. But times are evolving into a space where women are wielding more and more power on both sides of the business transaction. In many cases, women are not just influencing the market; they are the market.

“The best female leaders have a collaborative mentality and appreciate the power of working together as a group. Collaboration is fast becoming recognised as a power for good in the business environment and something organisations are increasingly promoting amongst staff,” says Lynne Krawchuk, Executive Head of Client Service at Clockwork. 

READ MORE | The Fight for Rights: Five Gains and Five Losses for Women in 2018

So, could we go as far as to say that the future of equality could be inched forward by owning our femininity, our collaborative way of working and our natural gravitation towards nurturing? Perhaps. But not exclusively.

Gender equality will be the result of challenging the status quo through ongoing conversations, planting the seeds of change and promoting females into senior positions because they deserve it. At least, that’s how we’re choosing to define Women’s Month this year.

Lynne Krawchuk is an executive in Strategic Planning, New Business Development, Retention and Growth and Financial Reporting

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Arts

Only One Woman Of Color Made Forbes’ 2019 Highest-Paid Actresses List—What Does This Say About Hollywood’s Pay Gap?

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Black Women’s Equal Pay Day 2019, on August 22, shined a light on the significant pay gap plaguing women of color across all industries. Native-American Women’s and Latinas’ Equal Pay Days fall even later this year. Writer, producer and director Ava DuVernay took to Twitter to express that the pay gap “is true in every industry. Hollywood included.”

Forbes’ 2019 list of the 10 highest-paid actresses is evidence of DuVernay’s claim. Colombian-American actress Sofia Vergara, who comes in at No. 2, is the only woman of color to make the list.

Last year, when  Forbes  separated television and filmactresses into two separate categories, Kerry Washington, along with Vergara, made the cut for the TV ranking. 

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“Given the fact that Hollywood is a white, male-dominated industry, it’s not surprising that you would find women of color underpaid relative to pretty much every other group,” says Dr. Darnell Hunt, a professor of sociology and African-American studies at UCLA and coauthor of the 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report. Today In: Leadership

But it’s not always the case that women of color are being paid less on a role-to-role basis. A Forbes source confirms that Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington both got paid an estimated $1 million for every episode of the upcoming Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere. 

Often it’s the frequency at which they’re being cast in lead roles, compared to other groups, that contributes to the earnings shortage among women of color. And it’s likely why Lupita Nyong’o, Tiffany Haddish and Viola Davis were all near misses for this year’s list. 

“If black women, Asian women, and Latinas are underrepresented in leading film roles, they’re probably less likely to be among the top earners if you start looking at salaries,” says Hunt. 

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Representation of women of color in leading roles is improving, albeit at a slow pace—and not across the board. The percentage of top grossing films featuring black female protagonists increased from 16% in 2017 to 21% in 2018; for Asian females, it increased from 7% in 2017 to 10% in 2018. Yet for Latinas, it actually decreased from 7% in 2017 to 4% in 2018. Of the top films in 2018, a total of 11 movies featured underrepresented female leads or co-leads: five were black/African-American, three were mixed race, two were Hispanic/Latina, and one was Asian/Asian-American.

Actresses themselves have been vocalizing their pay gap frustrations. When news surfaced that Tracee Ellis Ross was paid significantly less than her Black-ish co-star Anthony Anderson, Ellis Ross joined the conversation via Twitter, writing, “I wanted to be compensated in a way that matches my contribution to a show that I love for many reasons, including the opportunity it allows me to reshape what it is to be a fully realized Black woman on TV.” 

Viola Davis, also shedding light on the even exacerbated struggles older women of color face (only one movie was led by a woman of color 45 years of age or older across the 100 top films of 2017), opened up about feeling underpaid and undervalued over the course of her career at the 2018 Women in the World Los Angeles Salon.

“People say, ‘You’re a black Meryl Streep…There is no one like you,” Davis explained in the interview. “OK, then if there’s no one like me, you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth.”

Because there’s a large correlation between pay and representation, placing more women of color behind the cameras and in the writing rooms is also a necessity to help move the needle.

“People who are making decisions about what films to make have an effect on who the stars are going to be,” says Hunt. “If men are making movies about men, then women are going to be secondary roles for the most part, right?”

-Brianne Garrett; Forbes


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