Amanda Groves

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The nature of the gender pay gap means that it’s not immediately obvious to companies that they have a wage disparity. While the figures can vary, it’s accepted that women are generally paid 20 percent less than their male counterparts for the same role. And whether organizations may realize it or not, they are probably are contributing to this figure.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research tracks the gender wage gap and has found if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past 50 years, it will take until 2059 for women to finally reach pay parity. That’s 42 years!

Closing the gender pay gap isn’t just about fairness and equality, promoting women also makes good business sense. Global studies have shown that having at least 30 percent women in leadership positions, or the “C-suite,” adds 6 percent to net profit. So what can companies do about narrowing the gender wage gap?

Conduct a pay audit

The first thing you need to do is to pull your salary data. If you don’t know the extent of your wage disparity, then you’re not going to be in a position to do something about it. Compile reports on all employees to analyze how much men and women earn, and identify where the issues are. Tracking salaries and bonuses in comparable roles by gender will identify gaps and disparities, and will help you reduce the wage gap and pay employees more equitably.

Be transparent about pay

Being open and transparent about the compensation offered for a role – whether its listed in the job description, or you tell candidates in the interview – is a great first step. Research market rates for roles and establish what is a fair salary for the job you’re hiring for. It’s also a good idea to be explicit about how your organization determines salary and pay rises, such as having certain qualifications, or reaching key targets.

Ensure that promotions and rewards are fair

Disparity can also very easily occur when employees are offered promotions, pay raises and bonuses. Keep track of these to make sure that your organization isn’t skewed in favor of male employees – rewarding them and promoting them at a faster and more substantial rate than women. Unconscious bias can be incredibly insidious and often it’s not until you see that data, that you realize the extent of it occurring. Putting in place clear and consistent criteria for promotions, pay raises and bonuses should help keep things fair.

Offer negotiation training

Women have it tough when it comes to negotiations over salary and promotions. They are typically less confident in wage negotiations for fear of being seen as ‘bossy’ or ‘aggressive’. They are also associated with collaborative work styles, so are perhaps passed over for not standing out enough, rather than the work they do. Societal expectations play a big part here too, in terms of reinforcing unconscious bias about the worth of male and female employees.

Every little bit counts

It’s unlikely you can solve your company’s gender wage gap overnight, but there are simple steps you can take to make sure your organization is working towards equality. By using company data and identifying where the disparities are, you can work towards creating a fairer, better business that benefits all employees.

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