April 4, 2017 — On Equal Pay Day (April 4) in the United States, Catalyst research shows the gender pay gap is alive and well. That’s right: women and men still are not earning equal pay for equal work! This is happening despite substantial evidence showing that pay equity is not just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do. And unless immediate action is taken, the issue is not going away anytime soon. Fortunately, business leaders and organizations have an opportunity to help move the needle right now to close the gender pay gap.
Here are a few solutions, along with some helpful tips:
1. Always make sure your own house is in order. Check your numbers.
Conduct an internal pay-equity audit and analysis to ensure your organization does not have a gender pay gap. Once you’ve studied the pay of all employees and/or positions, bring in an external organization or consultant to verify your findings. If you do uncover a gap in pay, set funds aside to correct it, and put processes in place to prevent it from recurring.
Tip: No gender pay gap? Continue to analyze your company’s pay scale on a regular basis to keep the gap closed. Check out what Catalyst Award winners Gap Inc. and Telstra Corporation Limited did to bring about wage equity.
2. Put a “no negotiations” policy in place for salaries.
Studies show that when women negotiate for higher salaries, people may react more negatively than they would to a man who asks for more money. This may contribute to the wage differences between men and women.
Tip: Women should continue to negotiate for the more challenging and satisfying roles to boost their chances of success.
3. Build in systems to counter gender bias.
Evaluate recruitment, promotion, and talent-development systems to guarantee that women with skills, experiences, and qualifications comparable to those of their male colleagues earn dollar-for-dollar pay for doing the same jobs.
Tip: Would you like to have $11,000 extra each year? That’s how much less US women are paid than men because of the wage gap. Be clear and honest—leveraging all lines of communications—when sharing information about internal systems.
4. Be transparent about your numbers.
Transparency and data are key to closing the gender pay gap that exists in many organizations. When employers are made aware of their data, they are equipped with the knowledge required to actually change what’s happening in their workplaces. And knowing salary ranges for particular jobs and what colleagues are making gives women—and all employees—the information they need to be paid fairly and equally to men.
Tip: Pay transparency does not equal power for women, nor does it mean that your organization has achieved fair pay or created a fully inclusive workplace. However, it does empower women to know what’s at stake, ensuring an equal playing field with their male counterparts.
5. Take a public stand for fairness and pledge to take action!
Who wants to be paid less for doing the same job? Yet, women continue to do this day after day. The pay gap is linked to barriers and biases—with some sources indicating about 40% is due to “unexplained factors” like discrimination and 60% is due to other social factors such as career choices, lack of access to paid leave, leaning out, childcare, etc.—not because of skills and qualifications. Monitoring and tracking are critical to closing gaps in pay.
Tip: What can business leaders do right now? Analyze your pool of candidates for both hiring and promotions. Look at who’s in leadership positions, and analyze what’s working and what’s not.