Nancy Gibbs was named Time magazine’s first-ever female managing editor in September of 2013. When her title was announced, she joked with reporters that she was “the first managing editor to wear pumps — so far as we know.”
But it turns out that Gibbs is taking her first-woman title more seriously than that. A profile of her in Capital New York reveals that she used the opportunity of her new job to make sure women at the company weren’t getting short-changed on their salaries compared to their male coworkers:
In a previous interview with Capital, she said that being the first female top editor of Time wasn’t something she had given much thought to until it happened, and that her two daughters seemed so proud of her historic role.
She’s embraced it, by now. One of the first things she did after being named managing editor was to assess the salaries of women within the organization and make sure those salaries were comparable with what men of equal stature were making.
Pay inequality is still a major problem at companies across the United States, and high-profile publications are no exception. On average, American women earn just 77 cents on a man’s dollar, but those numbers can be worse in certain fields. In art, media, and design, women make up just about half of jobs — 47 percent — but their average salaries are significantly lower: While a man earns a little over $50,000 per year, a woman makes a bit over $35,000. That means on average, female media members earn less than 70 cents on a man’s dollar.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2009, helped make it easier for a woman to sue if she finds out she is getting paid unfairly by expanding the statute of limitations on such lawsuits. But it doesn’t go far enough to ensure that women aren’t being discriminated against. Democrats in Congress have pushed for the passage of another law, the Paycheck Fairness Act, that would make strong penalties for employers who discriminate, and make it easier for women to investigate whether they were being discriminated against.
Republicans have called the Paycheck Fairness Act a racket, simply a way for lawyers to make more money. Because of this opposition, progress on the bill has stalled. But as New York Magazine’s The Cut put it, Gibbs is serving as a “One-Woman Paycheck Fairness Act.” By showing the leadership to ensure pay equity herself, Gibbs reminds us that executives can step up and do something about pay discrimination, even when Congress can’t.