How employers can provide better salaries for women. Let's close the pay gap!

How employers can provide better salaries for women

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, the pay gap between men and women often begins a mere three years after they graduate college. The average pay among men three years after they graduated exceeded the median salary for women in almost 75% of undergraduate and graduate programs spanning 2,000 colleges. Within half of these programs, the average income for men was at a minimum of 10% higher than the average salary for women. 

But it doesn't have to be this way. There are lots of things that can be done to combat the pay gap between genders, and many of these changes can start with employers and hiring managers. Take a look at just some of the actions and programs you can implement at your company to improve wage equality for people of not only varying genders, but also for those of different abilities, ethnicities, and more.

Perform a pay audit

Conduct annual salary and compensation package audits internally in your organization. Examine if the data shows any disparity in wages among employees at the same level but of various genders or races. If you find that any pay or compensation gaps exist in relation to gender or ethnicity, you can then take corrective actions. During this audit, it may also be useful to incorporate data related to all the factors that are more relevant in determining salaries, such as experience level, skill set, credentials, and field.

Enhance transparency

Offer greater transparency both within and outside of your organization about compensation levels and disparities. There are different strategies for improving wage transparency, but one may be to share some of the insights gathered from your internal pay audit. You might also consider posting salary ranges for your currently available positions or mentioning in these postings that salary is negotiable. 

Use fair scheduling practices

Implement or bolster fair scheduling processes at your organization. Fair scheduling practices can refer to both providing employees with more flexible schedules that they can determine themselves and having employers offer more predictable schedules. 

Women often have child-rearing or caregiving responsibilities, so those women with varying shift schedules, such as restaurant or health care workers, may sometimes have trouble adjusting their other responsibilities quickly to accommodate their job. Caring for others might also cut into traditional business hours, such as if a female employee needs to pick up the kids from school or take dependents to medical appointments. 

Providing schedules that offer both greater consistency from employers and more flexibility for employees to make their own decisions about their shifts might make it easier for women in the workforce to balance their professional and personal responsibilities. 

Create a bill of rights 

Craft a bill of rights or right to request documents related to company pay. These types of documents can vary in their presentation, but they give all employees the ability to request and access information directly from their organization about pay structure without fear of retaliation. A right to request or bill of rights related to the organization's pay structure can include: 

  • An explanation of how the company determines raises 
  • The business's equal pay policy 
  • Details on how internal pay audits occur and how often the company conducts them 
  • The salary ranges for currently open positions 
  • Current metrics related to gendered or racial pay gaps

"Providing schedules that offer both greater consistency from employers and more flexibility for employees to make their own decisions about their shifts might make it easier for women in the workforce to balance their professional and personal responsibilities."

Review hiring and promotion practices

Ensure that the hiring and promotion processes in place at your company promote equality. In some situations, unconscious bias may allow men to advance internally within an organization faster than women. The same unconscious bias can also, unfortunately, occur for other employees who belong to a more privileged group, such as those who are white or able-bodied. 

As an example, women tend to be seen as whiny or bossy when they advocate for themselves, such as to ask for a raise. In comparison, a man requesting a raise may be seen instead as assertive or confident. These types of perceptions can lead to unconscious bias that influences unfair pay practices. 

Conduct internal audits of recruiting, hiring, and promoting procedures regularly to see if there are any disparities related to gender, race, or other factors. It's also a good idea to make sure that supervisors or others who review applications have proper training in evaluating candidates fairly. 

Develop a forum

Create an internal forum or task force within the organization comprising individuals of varying levels and from different departments. The goal of this task force would be to improve organizational transparency and discussions related to equal pay. 

Although this forum wouldn't make any decisions related to salaries or compensation packages, it could provide a safe place for employees to talk about or ask questions related to wages or pay gaps. Company leaders could then evaluate the topics or concerns discussed in this group to help them make more strategic or equitable plans related to compensation.

Ignore salary history

While some hiring managers often ask about a candidate's salary history, this practice can unfortunately lead to wage discrimination. Since women often receive lower incomes than men even when performing the same roles, basing a female employee's salary on their wage history can cause a ripple effect that perpetuates the pay gap. Rather than basing an employee's salary on their income history, consider factors instead such as the required skill set, job duties, experience level, and credentials. 

Evaluate comparable jobs

Assess comparable jobs and their recorded wages both within your organization and from other companies. Comparable jobs are roles that might have different titles but require similar skill sets or perform similar duties. Seeing if these comparable jobs offer similar wages can help you minimize potential pay gaps within your company. 

Analyzing comparable jobs can be a particularly useful task for employers interested in offering more equitable salaries because some minority groups, such as women of color or with disabilities, end up primarily populating jobs with lower wages or fewer chances for internal advancement. To this end, you can also perform evaluations that help determine if your company is taking part in this type of occupational segregation and subsequently take corrective action.

Increase your internal minimum wage

If there are employees making minimum wage at your organization, see if it's financially possible to increase their compensation. As mentioned above, employees who belong to minority groups may sometimes be siloed into jobs with a lower earning potential. Raising the minimum wage within your organization can help lessen the pay gaps between individuals of varying genders, races, and abilities.

Improve family and medical leave

Expand your company's paid family and medical leave options. Since women are more likely to take time off for events such as giving birth, adopting a child, or caring for a dependent, these stretches of unpaid time off can lead to women earning significantly less or getting passed over for advancement opportunities. 

When a company offers a more robust program for family and medical leave, it can help minimize the potential disparities. It's typically a good idea to expand these paid time off options for all employees regardless of gender, as this can also help employees to better share family responsibilities. 

Offer fair opportunities for development

Be sure that your organization provides the same internal development opportunities for women as it does for men. For instance, female employees may sometimes perform more administrative or planning job duties than their male counterparts, who might get to focus instead on more complex projects. This can lead to a chain reaction of men broadening their professional skill set and advancing internally faster than women in the same roles. Try to make sure that female employees receive the same types of responsibilities and have the same chances for internal development or promotion. 

While there's still a long way to go when it comes to closing the pay gap, there's lots that employers can do to promote fair wages at their organization and minimize these disparities. 

Learn more about what you can do to provide fair hiring, compensation, and salary practices at your business:

Discover how gender and age can influence an employee's preferences related to remote work.

Thinking about implementing pay transparency? Here's some advice that might help. 

DEI efforts can be hard work, but pay off for both employees and companies. Learn more here.

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