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…We are committed to ending the gender wage gap. To that end, our pay scale and offer letters for compensation are gender agnostic. We have instituted a continuation salary review model that eliminates the gender biases in compensation reviews.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chirag Pancholi a veteran insurance industry executive who has been involved in the industry for more than 12 years.

Currently, he is the co-founder of JennyLife, mobile-first life insurance provider geared to providing financial security for families. Prior to Jenny Life, Pancholi served as strategy officer at Asurion, the world’s largest handset insurance provider. During his tenure at Goldman Sachs, he was the central banker with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors under Chairman Alan Greenspan. He holds a MBA, Strategy from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a masters of public policy from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the University of Maryland.

Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

My backstory into entrepreneurship is pretty circuitous. As an immigrant child, I was admonished to work hard in school and get a good job at a big company. I followed that track, and was miserable, but doing well. Shortly after several company moves, I was recruited to help grow a cell phone insurance company called Asurion based in California — which turned out to be an incredible learning experience. Through Asurion, I witnessed how rewarding it was to help fix people’s lives via insurance. That journey inspired me to try my hand at entrepreneurship and launch me into a new chapter. I have not looked back since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

I’ll admit, there are many interesting stories in the early start-up days, but there is one that really stands out to me. It all started while couchsurfing at my friends place — some couches more comfortable than others. There were always those stories in the back of my mind, penniless entrepreneurs working all day and night, couchsurfing to focus on their vision and execution of their company — I never thought I would wind up being in those stories.

It seemed as though everything happened all at once, my first child was born, I launched my first company, and it was the beginning of the Great Recession. My wife and I decided this was the time to start saving money, and thought it was best for her and our newborn to live with her parents, while I stayed in California. With nowhere to live and no desk, I found myself working 14 hours plus at the Hacker Dojo, a community of founders in Mountain View, Calif., eat where I could at sponsored events, and sleep on innumerable friends’ couches.

While at times disheartening, the focus and drive to build something special pushed me to overcome the fear of being judged by peers and the skeptical eye of my parents.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

If there was a picture book about common mistakes while starting a company, there would be a picture of me on every page. For this instance, I wasn’t focused on the product solution like I should have been and instead I overspent on buying high quality “cool-looking” t-shirts featuring the company logo. At the time, I was under the impression that getting t-shirts was the first step to entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, I had a lot of t-shirts and no website — lessons were definitely learned.

Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

This is the heartbreaking truth about pay inequality and it’s unacceptable. We salute companies like Salesforce and Glassdoor for their work not only raising awareness around this crucial area but also taking steps to fix the problem. At Jenny Life, we believe there are three main factors that perpetuate the wage gap:

  1. Lack of Salary Transparency — While not a cure-all for pay inequity, it is an important first step. When wages are transparent, it’s harder to hide the discrepancies.
  2. Equitable Offers — Making equitable offers to certain groups of employees, such as women and older workers, are less likely to negotiate — accommodate for that by offering salaries that more closely reflect what the positions are worth, eliminating a reliance on negotiation to achieve a fair salary.
  3. Paid Parental Leave: Paid family leave promotes gender equality, as it takes into account the importance of both parents’ time with children during those paramount early months after birth.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

At Jenny Life, we are committed to ending the gender wage gap. To that end, our pay scale and offer letters for compensation are gender agnostic. We have instituted a continuation salary review model that eliminates the gender biases in compensation reviews.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, I believe it is more important than ever to implement changes on companies board of directors, to get new and encouraging voices to the table. Additionally, it’s pivotal for business owners, and leaders to start creating transparency within their companies messaging and allow for voices to be heard — even when disagreements arise. As more companies become driving forces for change, women and overlooked communities will have a better chance of success, and closing the gender wage gap. Lastly, I think it’s important to educate women on different leadership opportunities at companies, no one knows what they’re capable of if they never heard it was reachable.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’d love to see a movement around the importance of parenting. In my opinion, parenting is probably one of the hardest jobs an individual will undertake, but also the one for which the least amount of training and preparation is provided — parenting can be an emotional rollercoaster. There are many emotions a parent feels while raising a child, anxiety over their child’s vulnerability, anger when they refuse to cooperate, guilt when they struggle, a sense of loss as they grow up. Empowering parents by teaching positive parenting techniques is one way to help people understand what they’re in for and how to help them along the way. Parenting programs such as The Incredible Years in Norway, are one of most effective ways to promote positive parenting — a strategy that encourages mutual respect, creativity, realistic expectations and self-care as a parent. Areas of focus could be around caring for infants, nutrition, education for young children and more.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A saying that always sticks with me, “treat everyone as if they were your janitor or surgeon,” it’s a great example of how we are all tied together, no matter their title.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

There are many incredible entrepreneurs in the world that inspire me everyday, however, if I were to choose one it would be the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely. She disrupted an industry that overlooked the importance of comfort in women’s style and built a company based on that principle — women’s self confidence. I would love to sit down with Sara to talk about how she drove Spanx’s success in a time when web/mobile was not society’s foundation.

Chirag Pancholi of JennyLife: Five Things We Can Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.