Hollywood and employee benefits are two worlds that rarely collide.
Yet, this week this is exactly what happened when actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote an article on her experiences of gender pay inequality in the film industry for the newsletter service Lenny, run by actress Lena Dunham and television producer Jenni Konner.
Lawrence discovered that her salary for the film American Hustle was lower than her male co-stars’ following the Sony email hack in December 2014.
In the article, Lawrence wrote: “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky [men], I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.
“But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’. At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the internet and realised every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’”
While most of us can only dream about earning the kind of sums Lawrence can now command per project, she does hit the nail on the head about why so many female employees may not challenge their employers on pay.
With memories of the recession and economic difficulties still fresh in their minds, job security may feel like an on-going concern for many employees. Therefore, they may be reluctant to speak up or ask to be paid in line with male peers in comparable roles for fear of generating the wrong sort of attention from their employer.
There isn’t a straightforward solution to this situation. And, while critics may scoff at highly paid individuals, such as Lawrence, speaking out on the subject, surely anything that draws attention to the issue can only be a good thing?