Megan Rapinoe’s Playbook for Giving Pay Equity an Assist

The soccer star and tech executive explains why business must lead the fight for fair pay.

Written by Megan Rapinoe
Published on Nov. 06, 2023
Megan Rapinoe’s Playbook for Giving Pay Equity an Assist
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Many of you are familiar with the years-long fight my teammates and I engaged in to achieve pay equity for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team

4 Powerful Effects of Pay Equity

  1. Women’s average annual earnings would jump 17.5 percent, to $43,090.
  2. Poverty among working women would fall to 4 percent from 8.2 percent.
  3. Poverty among single mothers would fall to 15.8 percent from 29.3 percent.
  4. The United States would add $428 billion to its economy.

Status of Women in the States

While our campaign and others like it helped raise awareness of the issue of gender inequality for women in this country and globally, there is still more work to do. Systemic pay inequity and a lack of equal opportunities continue in women’s sports and industries across the board, including tech

money mattersHow Your Company Can Achieve Pay Equity and Transparency

The Pay Gap Remains

Sixty years after The Equal Pay Act of 1963, a lack of resolve and ineffective enforcement of the law have stalled meaningful progress. We’ve all heard the disappointing statistics: women in the United States still make 82 cents on average for every dollar a man earns; for women of color, the gap is even greater. 

This figure has barely budged in 20 years. At this rate, it will take 43 years for white women, 200 years for Hispanic or Latina women, and 100 years for Black women to reach pay equity, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Meanwhile, these pay gaps affect women and families in a very real way throughout the course of their lifetimes and into retirement. This isn’t acceptable. It’s also no longer sustainable. 

Now, more and more stakeholders are saying enough. Investors are looking more closely at companies and their workplace practices. Employees want to work for companies that pay fairly. Customers want to do business with companies that do the right thing. Lawmakers are also taking note and taking action. Today, 42 states have pay equity laws or statutes on the books. California’s landmark Pay Transparency Law went into effect Jan. 1, 2023. And more are coming.


Employers Hold the Key to Fair Pay

There is a better way. And it begins with the world’s employers.

Employers hold the key to ending pay inequity. Businesses must acknowledge the role they play in eradicating the wage gap. Yet many organizations are not taking the necessary actions to end pay discrimination. 

Consider this: According to new research from Josh Bersin, only 5 percent of companies have a comprehensive pay equity program and excel at it, yet 71 percent believe pay equity is core to their brand. Furthermore, according to the Bersin research:

  • Just 15 percent of companies are successfully navigating the significant changes required to achieve pay equity. 
  • Only 14 percent of companies leverage specialized technology solutions for pay equity.
  • Only 14 percent of C-suite executives allocate sufficient budget and staff to address the challenge. 

What organizations need is a better blueprint.


Paying Fairly Is Good for Business

Putting aside the legal implications for a moment, we know that paying people fairly just makes good business sense. According to Bersin’s research, companies that make rewards and recognition fair and equitable are five times more likely to have exceptional financial and customer results, five times more likely to engage and retain their employees, and six times more likely to adapt well to change. In terms of impact on outcomes, pay equity practices always rise to the top.

It makes sense, right? When people feel like they are paid fairly, they’ll want to work for you, they’ll be more engaged, they’ll stay longer. They’ll be less stressed and therefore more productive and innovative. Your customers will be more satisfied and your profitability will increase. In a battle for talent in a tight labor market, employers that practice pay equity have a competitive edge.

knowledge is powerGender Pay Gap Statistics You Should Know


Pay Equity Needs a Bigger Commitment

Collectively, we need a bigger commitment to pay equity. It’s no longer about awareness; it’s about action. There’s an element of holding each other accountable. Leadership must drive this from the top down. The C-suite must be vocal about supporting a fair workplace and advancing pay equity efforts. States must uphold and enforce their laws and companies should put pressure on one another.

More than complying with the law or improving performance, ensuring we’re all compensated fairly is the right thing to do.

My mission throughout my career has been to be the best teammate and player possible and leave the game in a better place for future athletes. I hope to do my part to leave the world a better place off the pitch as well. I hope to double down on my efforts and inspire others to join me. More than complying with the law or improving performance, ensuring we’re all compensated fairly is the right thing to do.

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