An industry that boasts a majority of female customers has interestingly one of the widest gender wage gaps across professions worldwide. “We have a long way to go,” says Tamara Mellon, fashion luminary, co-founder of Jimmy Choo and now, creator of her own namesake line of footwear. The gender wage gap in the fashion industry is a “big, thorny issue” and something which Mellon has fought with for decades. A New York Times analysis revealed that some of the biggest names in fashion were also the biggest offenders, paying women around 49 percent less than men and called out Condé Nast Publications Limited, women’s retailer Karen Millen and others.
During a negotiation, she was told that she is too rich for a woman
The NYT analysis also revealed that some companies pay men double of what they pay women and Karen Millen said in a statement, “Our gender gap paints a misleading picture about our commitment to gender diversity and equality,” and insisted that many of their lower-paid workers were women and that is why the gender gap existed. But, these findings do beg the question, why are so many higher roles are being filled by only men and not women? As a woman in the top tier of fashion, Mellon is all too familiar with this which is one of the many inequalities in the industry, and even though she is known as an executive, she had to fight for everything she has got until today. During one her negotiations, she was told that she is already too rich for a woman, Mellon said, “It’s very shocking at the time. You don’t quite know how to respond. And that was when I was particularly [new to] talking about my pay. It makes you feel completely undervalued. You feel like the work you’re doing is not seen as valuable as a man’s work. It’s very hurtful.”
“I encourage all of my employees… to own their voice and speak up”
In a guest column for Ellen, she wrote, “Women work ourselves to death hoping someone will notice… Every woman should have the confidence to ask for more. I encourage all of my employees, no matter their age or position, to own their voice and speak up.” Unlike many, she really walks the talk and has organized various protests to campaign for the Paycheck Fairness Act and in honor of Equal Pay Day, her shoes were discounted 20 percent, the same amount women lose in their earning because of the wage gap. Mellon also takes part in various events highlighting the problem and is working hard to come up with solutions within the fashion industry. Also, transferring her knowledge to her daughter, she is excited about the future because she knows that her daughter will have the courage to speak up more than she did when she first started out in fashion.
Image credit: Entrepreneur