The time was 2:38pm. While those numbers on the clock don’t seem like they should hold much significance, in actuality – it’s a powerful time that should spark the attention of every single woman, worldwide.
Our current society struggles with a pay gap that yields women making 14 to 18 percent less than men. Not only is that a huge divide, but the gap won’t close until 2186. (Let that digest for a second.) At the end of October, women in Iceland, a country that is known as the world leader in gender equality, took a stand and left their jobs at exactly 2:38pm, since that’s the time that they were technically being paid to be there until.
We should all be applauding them and their actions.
But, what does it all boil down to? As women, we’re technically working for free after 2:38pm. Free. And no one wants to be working for free, or deserves to be. As successful women, whether we are out working hard for ourselves or working hard for our employer, we have a right to be treated as equals and the pay gap is tremendously important not matter what our current job situation may be.
The pay gap is slow to close and is reported to take about 52 more years before we really see the fruits of our labor and a paycheck that is the same for both men and women doing the same job.
As a business owner myself and a mother of both a boy and a girl, it pains me that my children will grow up in a world where they could hold the same job, for the same company, and be paid different salaries. We live in a world where things can progress so quickly for the good, yet progress is moving so slow in this specific area.
At the end of the day, it’s not really about the money though, is it? It’s about what’s fair. Women in this free nation have strived to be treated equal to men for so long and have measured up neck and neck in almost every area – except the wage gap.
This needs to change and it should matter in a very major way to every female, whether you are out there every day putting your all into a career or you’re a stay at home mom. It all matters just the same.
What can you do to help close the gap quicker?
1. Support Pay Transparency
More often than not, we are urged to not discuss pay in the work place, which means that women aren’t always aware they are making less than their male colleagues. Supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act will enable females to reduce pay secrecy.
2. Support a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
Let’s face it: a majority of the caregiving responsibilities fall on the mother, who in turn are also more likely to leave the work force to stay home with the children. Because of this many women are discriminated against during the hiring process and denied certain opportunities. Men are less likely to face these stereotypes. Estimates have revealed that more than 10 percent of this gap is due to women spending less time in the labor force than men, so having a program like this intact would be very beneficial.
3. Help Pass a Paid Sick Day Legislations
With the same breath, not having to worry about taking a sick day to take care of a child or yourself hold tremendous value, too.
Moral of the story: support, support, support. No woman should have to be faced with this worry while starting her career.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.