The statistics about the gender wage gap in the United States are as familiar as they are infuriating. Women, on average, make 81 cents for every dollar men make (the number is even lower for women of color). Men, meanwhile, are four times more likely than women to negotiate their salaries.
Those disparities, and others just like them, were what spurred Jordan Sale to create 81cents, a platform designed to inform women about average salaries in their fields and help them advocate for themselves as they pursue fair wages. On Tuesday, the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business student won the fifth annual CommonBond Social Impact Award for her work, along with a $10,000 prize and a year’s worth of coaching from CommonBond’s leadership team.
Sale first came up with the idea for 81cents following a hiring experience out of college that didn’t turn out the way she had hoped. When she got a job at a startup, the salary she was offered was about 15 percent less than a mentor had told her to expect. She tried to negotiate, but she felt guilty doing it and it ultimately didn’t go well.
The solution was a service that women can use to anonymously submit job offers they receive, getting feedback from professionals and recruiters about fair salary numbers and next steps. Customers can also connect with the people who viewed their offers and receive coaching tips about negotiations.
The result is that women using 81cents have so far gotten an additional $410,000 worth of pay total, with an average 11 percent wage jump per customer.
An Elite Field
Sale wasn’t the only student who impressed at the ceremony. Four other companies—which, as per the rules of the contest, are helmed by undergrad or MBA students and demonstrate a defined social mission—were represented as finalists, and got to present their bold ideas to a panel of judges that included Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun, Columbia Business School CIO and associate dean Angela Lee, and CommonBond CEO and cofounder David Klein.
Sahar Jamal (Kellogg, ’19) opened up the event by discussing the lack of access mothers in Kenya have when it comes to breastfeeding options. Her solution is Maziwa, an affordable pump designed to help working mothers keep expressed milk cold and fresh until they can bring it home to feed their children.
Next, Monique Ray (University of San Francisco, ’22) introduced Pequeño Jardinero, a company she founded that sells hydroponic gardening kits. Unlike most kits which are cost-prohibitive and designed for large spaces, these are meant for homes and classrooms in order to help spread education around sustainability and promote STEM education within underserved groups.
Noah Trenaman, Sudarsana Addepalli, and Son Huang (University of Cincinnati) worked together to create Digit, a wearable vibrotactile language encoder designed to transmit Braille translations of digital text directly to the fingertips of visually impaired users. The glove-like device functions without the sensory distraction of text-to-talk programs or the high price points of digital Braille readers.
Finally, Mark Sotomayor (Grove City College, ’20) used his grandmother’s Peruvian Chai recipe to create Té Amo, a line of ready-to-drink teas with a mission: for every bottle purchased, a tree is planted in Haiti to combat the country’s deforestation. The resources these trees provide go directly to farmers and their families.
There could only be one CommonBond Social Impact Award winner, but there’s no doubt that all of these companies—and all of their founders—are going to change the world.
The Future of 81cents
The CommonBond Social Impact Award is a major windfall for 81cents. Despite an outside evaluation that determined the service was worth $40 to $50 a customer, Sale has been committed to keeping the price at $18—that way, it’s more accessible to women who want to take advantage of what it offers.
The $10,000 prize will help 81cents keep their price point where it is and cover their initial platform buildout at the same time. It will also allow Sale to explore additional revenue streams, such as a monthly digest membership. Likewise, the coaching opportunity is sure to pay dividends for the growing company.
The CommonBond Social Impact Award is a proud part of our company’s culture, and once again, we were lucky to have a host of excellent applicants from which to choose. To 81cents and rest of our finalists, congratulations!