Like many professions, poker is no doubt a boys’ club. In fact, only 4% of the players in the Main Event at the World Series of Poker are women. That’s the same percentage of women among CEOs of the Fortune 500.
But the interesting thing about poker is that the payout at the table is gender-neutral. The winner takes the same prize regardless of their gender. Pay does not discriminate at the poker table. Imagine if there were a tournament where the 1st prize was $10 million for a man and $7 million for a women. Unthinkable.
Yet it happens every day in business. Hard as it is to believe, women make about 77 cents to every dollar a man makes.
Recently, Jill Abramson, the highly accomplished executive editor of the New York Times, was fired. She said it was because she challenged the pay disparity. She found out that her predecessor made more, and she went to management in an attempt to equalize the payout. The Times claims that her firing was due to her “abrasive managerial style.” When was the last time you heard of a senior male executive losing his job because he was “abrasive?” Abramson had worked at the New York Times since 1997. Did it take them 17 years to figure out they didn’t like her management style?
The incident is even more disturbing when you think about how hard it is for a woman to reach that echelon to begin with. It is very difficult for a female to get a seat at that senior level table. In fact Abramson was the first female executive editor in the paper’s 160-year history.
It is hard to believe that this conversation is taking place in 2014. Imagine if kids were taught in school that women should not make as much as men. And retaliating against women who stand up for what is rightfully theirs flies in the face of everything this country stands for. People are uncomfortable with women who stand up for themselves and ask for what they’re worth. It’s considered bossy, unfeminine, and not “ladylike”. Call it what you like, but pay disparity between the sexes makes no sense and is bad for business.
At the poker table, it is equal pay for equal play. Corporate America, take note.