Red Card for Women's Soccer Is Call for Pay for Performance

It is no accident that during Women's History Month five members of the world champion U.S. Women's National Soccer Team have filed a lawsuit with the EEOC alleging that they have been significantly (and in some examples shockingly) paid less than the men's team. Answering the argument that the men's team might somehow earn more money based on revenues, their lawsuit also documents that the Women's National Soccer Team earns more money for the U.S. Soccer Federation than the men's team.

In other words, this appears not to be a case of the right for equal pay for equal work, but that the women have been paid LESS despite bringing MORE revenue to the table. And that's simply unfathomable in many places in 2016. The principle of equal pay is codified in the legislation of the 28 countries within the European Union, with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (part of the European Economic Area). In fact, Macedonia and Turkey -- which hope to join the EU -- have also passed legislation to match the EU standards.

What does this have to do with corporate responsibility? The answer is that the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team has exposed what happens behind closed doors at too many organizations and a case where the standards we (in the U.S.) hold are not the most idealistic (or even the leading standard) for employees' rights. In fact, the U.S. Soccer Federation seems to be behind other sports organizations (like the United States Tennis Association) which have long recognized that stars on the court draw crowds, TV audiences and sponsorship revenues regardless of gender.

It is time for the principle of equal work for equal pay to move beyond a platitude and instead recognize the principle of pay for performance. Winning gold medals and bringing in millions in revenue ought to pay more than not making the playoffs (or the Olympics) and bringing in less revenue. There's a word for that -- capitalism. And it's time to put the power of true capitalism to work for everyone; so that everyone is judged and rewarded based on their skills, abilities (including to serve as a role model and bring in fans and revenue).

Whether on the court, the soccer field, in the boardroom or on the shop floor -- that's the way it should be for everyone, everywhere.