Combating a 51 Percent Wage Gap Between Women and Men

By Cynthia Morgan-Reed

It’s no secret there is a wage gap between women and men. We’ve all heard the statistic, likely more than once – women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar their male counterpart earns. But what is more alarming is this wage gap is even more severe than we thought.

A new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found there is actually a 51 percent wage gap in total earnings when measured over a 15-year period. This puts women’s earnings at 49 percent of men’s earnings. And according to the article, the study also shows that “among women who took off work for just one year, their earnings were 39 percent lower than for women who worked all 15 years.”

To say this new figure is alarming is an understatement. Time and again, we hear about the wage gap and how we need to do better. There is even a calendar day – Equal Pay Day – dedicated to bringing awareness to the statistic and gap. Yet research continues to show that the difference in what women earn to men is not changing; and in fact, may be getting worse.

If we truly want equal pay for women and men in law firms, we need to change the traditional pay structure model.

This is one of the main reasons I started Vanst Law. At Vanst, every attorney is paid what they are worth and paid the same – 70 percent of what they collect on their billable rate – as every lawyer at the firm. Whether you are female or male, our formula-based compensation model is easy to understand, transparent, and consistent.

I recently interviewed a top 25-law school graduate who has worked for Big Law her entire career. When I asked her about the partner pay formula at her current Big Law job, she replied she didn’t know. “It’s a Black Box,” she said.

I instantly knew what she meant. While there is a formula at her firm, there are many other factors beyond the formula that go in to the attorneys’ compensation and those factors are not shared with the attorneys. So there’s no way to truly and objectively know how you are paid. Her anger was apparent and, I was angry for her.

So long as Black Box compensation models thrive, and we attorneys allow them to thrive, it will take years to change a culture of pay inequity. Vanst is leading the charge by providing attorneys the ability to earn their worth and control their future. It is time.

Cynthia Morgan-Reed is the CEO of Vanst Law, LLP., a modern law firm that is changing the culture one attorney at a time. If you are interested in joining Vanst, complete the New Partner Candidate Questionnaire.