By the time a woman turns 30, she's been robbed of $40,562 just for being a woman. Every year, a woman spends approximately $1,351 more than a man for simple products including t-shirts, personal care items, and services because of inflated pricing, known as the Pink Tax. It's egregious!
The Pink Tax first came to my attention just last year, and I was beyond astonished to hear that this “buried tax" exists. The Pink Tax is yet another daily hurdle for women that prevents them from gaining control of their money and more importantly, their life.
Once I knew about the Pink Tax, I immediately wanted to educate myself on the topic because it didn't make sense that women pay more for products targeted to women and make less money than men on top of it. (In 2017, women earned 82% of what men earned according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States.)
In my research, I learned that the Pink Tax starts showing up early in life with baby bottles and pacifiers and continues through adulthood with dry-cleaning and many personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, and deodorants. It even applies to senior healthcare products. I thought, why should a pink cane marketed to women cost more than a different colored one sold to men?
I was outraged but inspired to do something. I started by telling friends just to see their reactions and gauge awareness around the Pink Tax. They shared my astonishment and were horrified how this could be going on right under our noses.
This also became a time to reflect on my own successes and challenges in my professional career. I've had many successes fueled by my passion, determination, and ability. However, I've also faced many challenges head-on because of roadblocks in my way, often specifically because I am a woman.
Let it be known I have never been put off by being “the only woman in the room" because I've always seen myself as a skilled professional rather than a person defined by gender. However, along the way, there have been many misperceptions about me, including my ambitions and aspirations, just because I am a woman.
I am a fervent believer in equality. Period. It is a strong belief of mine that society suffers when one group is disadvantaged because of being labeled or treated as “less than." The Pink Tax impacts each and every woman in the U.S., forcing us to pay more for basic necessities, for the mere fact of being a woman. It's time to raise awareness about this type of inequality that women unknowingly face every day. European Wax Center decided to take the lead because we believe that with awareness comes the ability to make educated decisions and purchases.
As a woman-centric brand, we wanted to give our voices to issues that matter. On April 2, 2018, we set out to raise mass awareness and education about this issue, inspire women to make more empowered purchasing decisions and to advocate for equal prices for equal products. We exist to help women feel unapologetically confident, and we want all women to feel they can be confident not only in their own skin but also in demanding a leveled playing field.
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By further educating ourselves, we discovered women pay more than men 47 percent of the time for the same products and services.
This can be seen in the results of a study by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer," that compared nearly 800 products from more than 90 brands. This study found a striking price difference in items marketed to women. To start, female-branded deodorants and razors cost more 56 percent of the time, and on average, women pay 7 percent extra for everyday products and services. For example, women pay an average of $2.71 more than men on shampoo.
One of the pervasive aspects of the Pink Tax is that it's not easy to find out about the price differences unless you're looking for it. The onus is on the consumer, which is disconcerting because if you don't know about the Pink Tax, you don't know to look for it. Here are a few more facts that demonstrate how the Pink Tax impacts our lives from birth through adulthood:
Girls' toys cost more 55 percent of the time, while boys' toys cost more only 8 percent of the time. On average, the largest price discrepancy was in helmets and knee/elbow pads, with girls' versions priced 13 percent higher.
Girls' clothing cost more 26 percent of the time, while boys' clothing cost more 7 percent of the time. Girls' items cost more in seven of nine clothing product categories.
Women's clothing cost more 40 percent of the time, while men's clothing cost more 32 percent of the time. The clothing product category that had the largest price difference by percent was women's shirts, which cost 15 percent more on average than men's shirts.
Senior/Home healthcare products cost more for women 45 percent of the time and cost more for men 13 percent of the time. For example, women's braces, on average, cost 15 percent more than men's.
One of the best ways for us to help others understand this issue was to lean heavily on social media where others are sharing their own surprise, outrage, and gratitude for learning about the Pink Tax.
We also wanted to do our part in helping to level the playing field for women. As a brand that was doing so well, it was a moment to also do good for others. We joined forces with the Fashion Institute of Technology, Girls In Tech and Beauty Changes Lives to support women in realizing their dreams and to give them as much advantage as possible along the way.
I encourage everyone to use their knowledge of unfair gender pricing to help avoid the Pink Tax, but in many instances, that is easier said than done. There is value and hope in a consumer movement, that includes both men and women, who through their voices and actions show others that the road to long-term profitability and loyalty is through gender-neutral pricing.
We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.
The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").
To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.
These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.
However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.
This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.
The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.
As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.
SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.
Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.
Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!
Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.