Equal pay isn’t just about paying women more, according to Salma Hayek; it may be about men getting paid less.
At a Women in Motion talk at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday, the #MeToo and Time’s Up activist said that if men were serious about fixing the gender pay gap, they would have to take a cut in their own pay. Hayek explained this in terms of simple arithmetic: “If the movie’s budget is $10m, the [male] actor has to understand that if he is making $9.7 million, it is going to be hard for equality.”
Hayek isn’t the only one calling for men to take a pay cut. In January, six of the top-paid men at the BBC agreed to pay cuts after their colleague Carrie Gracie resigned as China editor over unequal pay for male and female international editors. EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren also agreed to take a pay cut of £34,000 ($46,200) from £740,000 to £706,000 after it was revealed that the company had a gender pay gap of 52%. Lundgren’s pay was cut to match that of his predecessor, Carolyn McCall. Even in Hollywood voluntary pay cuts for men aren’t unheard of. Emma Stone revealed that throughout her career some men have taken pay cuts in order to increase her salary.
Some are skeptical that reducing men’s pay is the way to gender parity, saying that in most industries, the pay gap emerges when men get high-skilled jobs and when women take time away from the job market to have children. They argue that instead of men taking a pay cut, companies should put policies in place to level the playing field in a more holistic way.
For her part, Hayek celebrated the fact that it is becoming difficult to hire known female writers and directors because so many of them are getting snapped up by studios. But she also had a warning for these women: “they still want to pay you the exploitative salary they paid you before.”