Hire Women in Tech And Pay Them Well

Why You Should Hire Women in Tech And Pay Them Well

When you look at the fact that in the U.S. women drive between 70-80% of all consumer purchasing decisions, it totally makes sense that they’re paid less, right? Wait. No…that doesn’t make any sense. My bad.

Well, is it because women are less educated? Nope. Have less experience? Also nope. Is it because of ancient patriarchal ideals that still seem to dominate many facets of our country?


Also…are we starting to see these trends change? Yes! Finally! Thankfully!

Is it long overdue, not happening across all industries in all regions of the US, and is it affecting women of color exponentially more? Well…unfortunately, yes. Very much yes.

No matter how far we have left to go, it’s still encouraging to see progress begin. The intention of this blog is to help push this progress even further. We’ll be speaking to the gender inequality trends some of us have personally experienced or witnessed first hand and show how Daggerhart Lab is working to lead by example in the work to build a truly equitable agency.

Oh, by the way…does this blog sound a little different than usual? That’s because this is not an official Daggerhart Lab blog like you’re used to that covers cool, fun, and interesting techy stuff. This is an editorial blog written by a non-binary/femme team member who needs to yell from the mountain tops how refreshing it is to work with an agency that truly values all of their employee’s EQUALLY. It’s a really nutty, wild, and whacky experience – one would even say unprecedented. Sadly, unprecedented is exactly right. It begs the question – is paying women (or perceived women) less while also holding them back from promotions something that has helped the tech industry? Does having a staff of mostly or only men make the work environment better and overall more efficient?

Statistically, and by way of interviewing many tech professionals across many levels and positions, the answer is an unequivocal no. In fact, both men and women alike reported that having a gender diverse workforce created a much better work environment. It is also widely reported that having an overall truly diverse staff (gender/age/race/sexuality et al) is not only better for company morale, but it improves your overall reach. The number of times that massive markets are completely overlooked by way of privilege and echo chambers is pretty serious. That’s another blog for another time. We’ll stick to gender for now.

So why does gender inequality still happen so regularly in tech? The short answer is that many male leaders are still following the outline set for them over many generations without putting any thought into upgrading this outline or approach. This is largely because it has never affected them personally. In other words, white/cis/hetero men are still mostly in charge and as a result, they are not examining the why behind this being a problem.

There has been a heavy dose of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality going around. Unfortunately, the system is super broken and definitely needs fixing. Okay, but why? Why should women (or perceived women) get paid the same as cis/hetero men? Simply speaking – they should get paid the same because they’re doing the same friggin job and held to the same (if not harsher) standards. But I’m not saying anything new, this is all information that has been written about a ton of times over.

And if I’m being honest, as a queer non-binary femme (she/they) I could certainly write an entirely different blog about being in the LGBTQIA+ community while working in tech, but this particular blog is about gender diversity and equality. It is also important to note that as I am a white person, I cannot speak to the experience of BIPOC people in the tech industry. I can only share statistical facts and perspectives that have been shared with me by BIPOC colleagues. I have no right to and will not attempt to spin any of their stories in my own way as it is not my lived experience.

Women In Tech: Making Our Place Known

Balancing Staying Safe & Employed

It’s not just about wage and promotion, it’s also about interaction and general treatment. Especially with movements such as #metoo and #timesup over the last few years, cis-hetero men have found all sorts of new ways to make women uncomfortable at work. For example, a few years ago I recall walking into an account executive’s office as he jumped up and yelled: “DON’T CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND YOU OR YOU’RE GONNA ‘ME TOO’ ME OR SOME SH#T!” It was a super fun meeting, I loved it… But I thought to myself at that moment: Was him yelling this very revealing statement at me worse or better than the time at a different agency my manager regularly complained to me that his girlfriend was horrible in bed and that he “had to” cheat on her and that it was “just so much to keep track of”.

Did I mention the first time it happened was just as I was sitting down to be reviewed, the door was shut, he told me very real details, and that I felt threatened/forced into listening because it was all happening before my performance review was to take place? Cool times. So yeah, I think having a man in a powerful position worried that he’s going to get in trouble if he’s a creep is probably better than me having to endure him being a creep. This champion of the people also managed to accidentally leave elicit very NSFW movies playing on his laptop that as he opened it in the morning during an all-staff meeting, began playing again. Class. Act.

He didn’t get in a single bit of trouble, in fact, he got promoted not one month later with a huge raise. If you’re wondering how I would know he got a huge raise, that would be because he immediately bought a new car and bragged about it blatantly to everyone in the office. He had been working at the company for 5 years less than the woman who was up for the same promotion. Every single employee knew she had been passed up for the promotion, it was beyond uncomfortable, to say the least. She quit not too long after, leaving a massively difficult position to fill and a lot of us floundering.

None of us (good ones) blamed her, that’s for sure. I endured far too many horrendously offensive conversations with this manager who got promoted over her just to keep my job. When I mentioned it to a male co-worker, they quite literally said with absolutely no emotion for what I was going through “Really? Huh, he’s only ever talked to me about sports.” Thanks so much for the support. When I spoke to HR about it, they said they needed proof and it would be nearly impossible to provide and that I had to request the door stay open from there on out. It’s so cool making sure the victim has to face their tormenter with no support.

This is what I mean by the issues for women in tech (and in all workplaces) going beyond poor pay and passed up promotions. Women often have to fight past a tremendous amount of triggering, trauma, and blinding anger just to keep a job. And again, my perspective is that of a white (perceived) woman and I know for a fact, both statistically and from the laments of my BIPOC colleagues, there is a whole other level of attrition I am not experiencing.

There is a lot of work to do and I can confidently say that Daggerhart Lab is an agency doing that work and making strides to ensure they are on the right side of all of this. In fact, when speaking with one of the owners about writing this piece I was nervous about asking some of the questions related to salary and promotions. I won’t quote him, but I will just say – he put my mind at ease to the fullest degree possible and it was incredibly refreshing.

Times really are’a changin’ and more women are starting to open their own agencies, as well as taking more leadership roles. In fact, the founder of Daggerhart Lab had largely worked for women-owned and lead agencies prior to opening his own. This directly relates to the fact that he has established a company culture of equality and inclusivity. I also think it’s just that he’s a super good dude, but I’ll stop there so this doesn’t feel like I’m just kissing butt. I just like working for a nice person. It’s unfortunate that working for a good company is such a shock and a relief – but here we are! Let’s keep this positive momentum going!

What Is Daggerhart Lab Doing Differently?

Upon onboarding with Daggerhart Lab and getting onto all of the Slack channels, I noticed right away that it was just about an exact 50/50 split of men and women. This was a first for me, and I’ve worked in the industry for 16 years. While I am the only (as far as I know) queer team member riding a different gender line, to be fair Daggerhart Lab has only been open since March of 2020 and it is still a rather svelte crew. Equally, I have never felt even remotely as though I am judged for who I am – I am just another team member that gets paid appropriately and spoken to with professionalism and respect. It’s so rad.

In fact, I was so comfortable with my place at Daggerhart Lab, when this topic came up I was encouraged wholeheartedly to share my experiences. I then decided to talk to men and women that are current and former colleagues of mine to glean more from their experiences. What I discovered was not surprising. Men don’t worry about their salaries because they don’t have the same reasons to, and subsequently do not have much of a reason to ask. Women do talk about salaries for obvious reasons, they often get (illegally) punished for it, and it is a morale destroyer when they discover they are not paid appropriately.

Equally, men most often reported that they were unaware of if they had ever been promoted over a woman or were paid more for the same position. On the contrary, each woman I spoke to across the board knew of every single time they had been promoted over, and of every occasion, they were paid unjustly lower. At the end of it all, it seems the patriarchal societal push for men to not express themselves much is a really strong tool in keeping women oppressed and even the “good guys” complicit.

Pay Scale Transparency

In an effort to establish their company with transparency and fairness, Daggerhart Lab utilizes an open tier payment system. There are three tiers of salary and every employee within one of those tiers makes the same exact salary. The tiers are based on the level of responsibility and experience to ensure that each payment tier is fair and equitable. This system makes it impossible for a white cis-hetero male to be paid better than a woman/perceived woman or member of the BIPOC community. This would be a solid move for every agency to take as it establishes a sense of trust directly into the foundation of the agency. Equally, as I mentioned earlier, their staffing efforts are awesome. For a small crew, it is at the very least not an all cis/hetero male crew, and that in and of itself in tech – is a feat.

Below, I’ve provided some helpful information regarding your rights in the workplace as it relates to salary and overall treatment. If you work in the private sector – you’re federally legally protected to discuss salary. Keep scrolling for more info! And just as a heads up, I nor anyone at Daggerhart Lab, are lawyers. Anything stated in this blog is to be considered as words from a friend. A friend who really cares, though!

Employers Push Illegal Policies To Stop Salary Discussions

Tips & Advice for Knowing Your Employee Rights

It is completely legal and covered under Federal Labor Laws for private-sector employees to discuss wages and treatment. The National Labor Relations board FAQ page has a lot of helpful information, and the information and interactive map on the Protected Concerted Activity page of the National Labor Relation’s site was especially helpful. If you are given a company handbook to sign that states you are not allowed to discuss salary, overall treatment, and/or working conditions, there is a strong chance it’s not actually legal.

There are a number of routes you can take to ensure what you’re being asked to sign is legal. You can contact the local or federal labor boards, though that can prove to be a timely venture. Depending on the severity of your situation, there are also large scale organizations like the ACLU, should you believe you will need legal counsel and can’t afford it. Bear in mind that the ACLU can really only take a small percentage of cases, though. However, there are local organizations that provide pro bono advice should you only need a review of your handbook to ensure that what’s being asked of you is legal.

Another option that costs a little bit, but goes a long way, is contacting a Human Resources and/or Business Consultant. Luckily for me my Mother is a successful, well-established, and published HR professional who indeed does HR consulting that I have had the privilege of having in my corner through many odd situations in my career. But never dismiss this kind of service, a consultant on the executive level such as my Mother can likely answer every question you have and provide incredibly solid advice in a 30 – 60-minute conversation. A conversation with an HR consultant will also cost exponentially less than a lawyer.

Be Kind, Ask Questions, Get Paid

I hope this has been an informative and helpful read! Just remember, you’re protected to talk salary and you really should. Employers love (illegally) suppressing salary talk specifically so they can suppress your wage, don’t let them. OR, do yourself a favor and find a company like Daggerhart Lab…actually, go ahead and drop us your resume!

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