Conversations With Captivate: Q&A With Venus Williams, Tennis Champion & Entrepreneur

This Women’s History Month Venus Williams takes aim at combatting the gender pay gap through increasing awareness & direct support of organizations making a difference.  Part of her campaign includes a discussion with Captivate to support our Women In Business custom content series that highlights the contributions of women in history, features advice from influential businesswomen and shines a light on the reality of the gender wage gap that still exists today.  

The reality is that women are working longer hours and pursuing higher education in greater numbers. Despite this progress, significant wage gaps between men and women persist—particularly for women of color. For every dollar a man earns, women are paid only $0.84.  We are thrilled to partner with Venus Williams to address equality issues in the workplace – especially the wage gap.  We encourage you to learn more and support Venus Williams’ charity of choice – Girls, Inc.  This amazing non-profit is dedicated to the development of young women, inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. 

Q&A with Venus Williams: 

Q: What initially made you passionate about equal pay for women, and why did you focus on this issue as one of your causes?

When I played in my first Wimbledon in 1998, I realized the discrepancy in prize money between men and women and my passion was ignited then and there. Even though I was able to help close the gap in prize money for women at Wimbledon in 2007, this issue is so much greater than tennis – it’s a global, societal issue that still needs our attention today. That’s why this initiative is so close to my heart and one I will continue to fight for until we see real progress.  

Q: How does your work with the #PrivilegeTax movement support your larger efforts to cultivate leadership qualities in young women and expose them to greater opportunities?

Through the #PrivilegeTax initiative, all proceeds benefit Girls Inc, a nonprofit organization that focuses on teaching young women to value themselves, take risks, and discover and develop their inherent strengths. It’s organizations like this that help our efforts reach so many girls at such a pivotal age, when it’s crucial to develop confidence and self-worth.

Q: Awareness of the wage gap has been around for a long time, but it remains stubbornly persistent.  Why do you think we have a hard time addressing it and achieving pay equality?

Many reasons. This is a systemic issue that is so deeply engrained in our culture and it’s always difficult to enact change when something has been that way forever. We have to break it down and rebuild. Additionally, many companies discourage employees from discussing pay, which can leave many people in the dark.  

Q: Minority women, including women of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and women with disabilities face an even greater wage disparity than their white, able-bodied counterparts.  Do you have recommendations for making the workplace more equitable and inclusive beyond just gender?

Overall, we need to break down societal bias in the workplace. Beyond gender, companies need to train employees to understand bias in decision making as a whole. This kind of change starts at the top, and if companies are serious about resolving this issue, people at the executive level need to start taking an active role in putting structures in place that will help limit pay disparities among employees.

Q: There is overwhelming evidence that workforce diversity and women in leadership positions yield better outcomes. Why do you think diversity is such a strong driver of success in business? 

It’s always best for business to have a diverse group of people seated at the table. People with different backgrounds and experiences bring forth different points of view and ideas. When it comes to innovation and growth, diversity is crucial.   

What does the future hold in the next 6, 12, 18 months? What’s on your road map?

In the next 18-months, the focus will be on growing OOH investment. In the next 6-12-months, it’ll be about testing the current limits of what is currently possible in the channel, and innovating with partners who are daring and willing enough to do so.

Would you like to extend the conversation?

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