PAY UP! and Beware of Easy Fixes to Pay Gaps

Pickit-809918b8-816e-4180-b2c8-3244753ddc89I’ve been quiet for awhile.  While I’ve been quiet, I’ve been working on a book, Pay Up!:  Fifteen Questions to End Systemic Biases in Compensation.  It’s designed to give managers the ability to take care of their direct reports by eliminating or countering the biased best practices in the hiring, promotion, and compensation processes that, similar to salary history questions, make it impossible for certain groups of people to be paid on par with the unbiased standard, the white man.

But Bloomberg Equality: One Easy Way to Close the Gender Pay Gap was forwarded to me yesterday, and lit a fire under me but not in a good way.  I am all for fixes.  The easier the better.  I’m even all for trying something and adjusting as you discover potential problems.  The article and research highlight the “success” of one online recruitment platform’s,, attempt to fix the gender pay gap.  According to’s website 10,000 employers use it. Professionally, I find the solution creates a new variation of the systemic bias in questions of desired pay but does not close the gap. solution is to prefill the answer with the median pay of everyone for candidates to adjust or leave as is.  Problems with that solution include:

  • Are you really asking a question when you already provide the answer?
  • Median pay is a meaningless number although we have come to use the number as a gold standard. Closing the gap means women earn what men earn. The median pay of everyone is lower than the median pay of men so that won’t help women earn what men earn.
  • Some men are responding with lower desired pay than before the desired salary was prefilled. Maybe that’s the whole point of this exercise.  Don’t bring women up but bring men down.  Feminists, advocates and professionals are not trying to accomplish that.  Though this specific action might not be illegal, it’s walking a fine line. In my beloved home state of Massachusetts, lowering anyone’s compensation to achieve equity is illegal.
  • If the employer is willing to provide median pay, why not be willing to provide the job’s salary range in the job posting? Posting the job’s pay would accomplish the same goal of empowering the applicants with knowledge but would give them a full picture.

Ending systemic bias is not easy.  While I applaud the intention of and the willingness to try things, I will do everything in my power to ensure the practice ends. To that end, I’ve got fifteen questions with solutions to help you do it. These questions should avoid such missteps as the one has engaged in.  Get on the Pay Up! waitlist to hear the latest news on Pay Up! progress, publication, programming and media coverage on systemic bias and pay gaps

Women’s Watch

Recently Laurie Kirby of WBZ radio interviewed me for her Women’s Watch segment.  We touched on salary adjustments, salary history, and many things equal pay.

New Survey: Job Seekers Want Equal Pay

Pickit-809918b8-816e-4180-b2c8-3244753ddc89I was recently interviewed by Clutch, a B2B research and reviews firm based in Washington DC.  Clutch gathered survey data about what job seekers want when searching for a new role.

The data reveals that 32% of job seekers are on the market in search of better pay and/or benefits. I explained that it’s likely some of these job seekers became aware of unequal pay in their workplaces:

Donovan warns that unequal pay can lead to low morale and high turnover.

“Once someone finds out they’re underpaid, they’re no longer your employee,” Donovan said.

When companies fail to provide competitive pay, their employees will seek jobs elsewhere.

Candidates who begin a job search after receiving inadequate pay are especially attuned to the salary companies offer. Companies should be transparent about the salary they plan to offer:

Companies that publish the salary they plan to offer in job listings can stand out from the competition and save time by immediately screening out candidates who would be unsatisfied with a role’s compensation.

If a company doesn’t list salaries publicly, Donovan advises hiring managers to add transparency to the interview process by telling candidates what they plan to offer.

“Just get it out there,” Donovan said. “It’s not a big event. You don’t have to have meetings. Just do it.”

When crafting a job offer, companies should be aware that salary is a top concern for job seekers. Offering equal pay at the market rate can save on long term costs associated with turnover.

Companies that are transparent about the salaries they offer are more likely to build trust with candidates and less likely to suffer from high turnover.

Finally, companies and recruiting firms often stress the overall value of their compensation packages, including both salary and benefits. I explain why this thinking is flawed:

Donovan argues that an employee’s salary directly impacts their ability to participate in other benefits.

“Your end-of-year bonus, signing bonus, life insurance, long-term disability, 401(k) – all that is impacted by your base salary,” Donovan said.

When workers consider their overall compensation, most focus on salary – not benefits.

Employees, not employers, are increasingly responsible for paying into benefits. Due to this trend, employees are less likely to see benefits as a determining factor when searching for a new job.

Overall, companies that are transparent about offering equal, competitive pay are much more likely to hire the talent they need – and convince them to stay.

You can read the full report, including analysis of the data, on Clutch.

Don’t accept a #job offer at median #pay. Here’s why. #equalpay #negotiation