Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Gender Gap

bathrooms,lavatories,restrooms,signs,symbols,toilets,women's roomYes, men and women are different.

This  morning's Financial Times (Feb. 27 2014) has a special section "Women and the Workplace: Gender pay gap shows little sign of closing." The non-governmental non profit sector in the US employs  more than 10% of the work force if I recall correctly; the entire so called "third sector" is an enormous economic driver.

With more than 1.3 million 501-c-3  organizations, not counting religious organizations this piece of the US economy is highly fractionated and dispersed. There is no data of which I'm aware that keeps tabs on the gender gap. Maybe the best data we have, narrow though it may be, is the annual compensation survey Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) conducts among its  more than 40,000 members Reporting for 2013 AFP says:

"A significant gap continues to exist between the salaries of male and female fundraisers in both countries. Male fundraisers in the United Stated reported an average salary of $102,710 in 2012. Women earned $76,126 on average. With the exception of 2005 when the salary gap diminished slightly, the gap in the U.S. has consistently been $20,000 or more during the 13 years in which the survey has been conducted." Thus for every dollar paid to a man, a woman earns 74 cents - a 26% difference. Financial Times cites the International Labour Organizations estimate of a 23% global gap on average, some nations less, some more.

What this sugars down to is simple: men are ultimately in charge. Everywhere. In every business. In every  industry. Though some women have achieved the highest rank in business, professional and  nonprofit work a majority has not. AFP is of special interest because in the last decade or so the number of female members has surpassed the number of males. However a closer  look shows that their numerical superiority is weighted to the lower and mid ranks. At the very top the situation reverses. The echelon of women CEOs or senior managers thins out - just as it does  in other industries and professions.

The argument that nonprofit careers attract more women because they are genetically wired for  nurturing is factitious. The real answer is men won't work for 74 cents on the dollar if we don't have to. 

The founder of my company, the late Harold Oram, was proud that he employed and promoted women when, during his time, the consulting firms in our industry were run by mostly boring old chauvinists. Oram  preferred the company of women and said so - and he was frank to admit that women cost us less. Those good ladies (one survives at 100 years plus of age) traded pay for prestige and Harold's considerable aura. Not to go on about it but that group was extraordinary. Out of seventeen or so employees on the payroll when I got there, 15 were women, and three of them were Mensa.

The gender gap "shows little sign of closing" because in this still limping economy parity is simply not an issue for anyone. Employers can take advantage with little blow-back and the minions, irrespective of gender, are simply  relieved to have a job.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Michael Valentine - my friend, colleague, client and Oram Senior Associate the last two years died quietly and peacefully on Saturday night February 15th. Myeloma took him. Fast. Our relationship - over the past 30 plus years - was a  mix of work and play. The work was fun, great and challenging; the playtime was spectacular. Micheal was a serious /fun loving guy. We shared many a hangover on two continents. He sucked the air out of a room,  made friends instantly (and kept them). He was an enthusiastic golfer. Not me. A good walk ruined.(Mark Twain)?A consummate professional, detail-oriented, strategic; clients and major donors loved Michael. I did too.

He called me January 25th and told me his disease was progressing, the various therapies had failed, he had decided to forgo anything but palliative treatment and had started in-home hospice that day. I went down to Savannah to see him ten days ago. He and son Taylor, a chip off the block, picked me up at the airport and we went off to lunch at a famous old restaurant downtown. The food was pretty bad but this was an "official" meeting of the first-Thursday-of-the-month lunch club comprised putatively of the only liberal Democrats in Savannah. This Thursday there were seven of us including the ex-US attorney, a journalist, an architect - all retired.

I thought lunch would wear  Michael out but instead it invigorated him. When we got back to the house Michael put his feet up and of course we reminisced. He was matter of fact about his situation and not without humor. And tears though we also laughed a lot. Especially about this: Michael had mostly completed an Excel spread sheet inventorying as many specific dates and events in his life as he could.Another good friend may write it up. I had urged Michael to do an oral history but time ran out.

Though it sounds corny, people  like Michael are in this business to change the world. We all  could have made a ton more  money doing something else.

Michael changed the world.