On a rainy Tuesday morning in New York City, leaders in politics, business and sports met to talk about equal pay for equal work at Glassdoor’s Pay Equality Roundtable. That includes “equal pay for equal play,” as Hillary Clinton said, for U.S. Women’s Soccer Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Like in many industries, there’s a pay gap between the women’s and men’s soccer teams which has recently come to light.
“We cheered when [the U.S. Women’s Team] won the World Cup and we cheered when they won the Olympic gold medal, and we noticed that our men’s team hasn’t yet done that, yet somehow, the men are making hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the women,” said Hillary Clinton at the event.
Rapinoe and her teammates knew they were a popular team that generated profits, but they didn’t have proof. “This year, after winning the World Cup, the Victory Tour, all these games and the incredible success we’ve had, we were still grappling with [our contracts],” she says. “We didn’t have the numbers — we felt it. We could go to the stands in a stadium and see there’s 50,000 people [for] ten games in a row, but we didn’t have the numbers.”
Transparency Led to Breakthrough
Earlier this year prior to a meeting with the women’s team, the federation released its financials, which turned out to be a gold mine of information for the team. “I’m not sure they were fully aware of the unintended consequences,” she says. “They were singing our praises.”
According to U.S. Soccer, in 2015, the federation spent nearly $11 million running the women’s program, which includes a $1.5 million subsidy to the National Women’s Soccer League for USWNT player salaries, as compared to $30 million on the men’s. Despite a smaller budget, the women’s team generated $20 million more revenue than the men’s team last year.
According to Glassdoor research, the unadjusted pay gap in the U.S. between men and women is 24.1%, meaning that women earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn. Rapinoe and her teammates were paid at a much wider pay gap to the men though.
After winning the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the women’s team received a total of $2 million while the men received $9 million after being eliminated in the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup. Both teams are required to play at least 20 friendly games during the year. The female players receive a $1,350 bonus only for wins, while the male players receive $5,000 regardless of the outcome and $17,625 if they defeat a top 10 FIFA ranked team.
The team played nice at first, but nice doesn’t always win. So Rapinoe, along with forwards Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, midfielder Carli Lloyd and goalkeeper Hope Solo, made a bold move and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer on March 30th. In the complaint, the women accused the federation of compensating male players more at every level of competition.
“For us, we’ve already proven that we have been making money,” she says. “We have already proven that in this marketplace. We can stand alone, even without the investment. So imagine, with the investment (from) a company like U.S. Soccer – the potential is huge…”
Transparency Leads to Better Negotiation
Soccer players aren’t the only people who can benefit from salary transparency to negotiate better pay. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, only 1 in 10 employees negotiate for more money, with fewer women (4%) than men (15%) asking for a raise. But, a little data goes a long way when it comes to helping people to negotiate. If you uncover a gap between what you are making and what you believe you should be making, compile the data to build a strong argument about your own compensation.
Having a special skillset or ability that your employer wants or needs can also help with salary negotiations at your current job. The U.S. Women’s Team is favored to win gold at the Rio Olympics this summer, which will translate to more fans and more ticket sales — that’s a bargaining chip that the federation can’t afford to ignore.
Are you ready to help increase salary transparency? Share your salary on Glassdoor anonymously. #ShareYourPay
Video Replay: Watch the entire Glassdoor Roundtable Discussion and learn more about what can be done to reach pay equality.
Photo Credit: Mark Von Holden, AP for Glassdoor