Women: Victims, Perpetrators, and Heroes of the Gender Pay Gap
The common misconception of the gender pay gap is that blatant discrimination is to blame. Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 the gender gap has gone from 59% to 77%, an improvement of less than 20 percentage points in 50 years. Even worse, the gap has stalled since 2004 at 77%. I’m not sure how predictions of it ending in 2058 can exist if it has stalled for a decade. Unless something changes 77 cents on the dollar is where we are and where we will stay.
Not only are women the victims of the gender pay gap but also knowingly or unknowingly its perpetrators. 40% of women who work are employed in management, professional, and related occupations. 70% of human resource personnel are women. Women-owned companies are one of only two sectors that have provided net increase in hiring since the recession. With so many women involved in hiring and pay decisions, how does the gender pay gap persist? It’s probably not blatant discrimination.
Women business owners, managers, and human resource professionals need to make the decision to review hiring practices from a different perspective and change the situation. Each of these players has the power to impact her small queendom whether a company, department, or process. Granted for most companies, employees are the biggest cost of doing business. Finding even a small percentage savings in labor costs can have big impact on the company. I’m suggesting actively looking for the opposite but my suggestions will allow for a manageable hire by hire impact instead of a huge one time hit to labor costs.
Oh, and I’m as guilty as everyone else who has ever hired a person but I know I will no longer be. What I (and most employers) have viewed as a case-by-case situations are injustices that get compounded if I continue to hire by the currently acceptable hiring processes. Here’s what I will do differently:
- I will no longer ask about current or previous pay because I know that the women and minority candidates have not been paid on par with white men. Considering pay as objective criteria not only hurts future pay but also the candidacy itself for women and minorities.
- I will no longer ask about the desired pay because I know women state 30% less than men on average.
- I will include the minimum pay for the job when I advertise it on a web site, a job site, or anywhere else because I know the first two elements of determining pay are 1) the market value of the job and 2) the company’s ability to pay. If a candidate is good enough to get the job then I should know what the absolute rock bottom pay is for that job. Also, pay transparency should start during the hiring process not after employment.
- I will no longer run credit checks on candidates because I know 1) 26% of credit checks have inaccuracies and 2) there is no correlation between a credit check and a good employee.
- I will never ask employees to keep their pay a secret for risk of getting fired because I know it is my responsibility to discuss the factors that determined an employee’s pay and not the employees’ responsibility to protect me from such conversations.
It costs nothing to implement these changes yet the positive impact can be immense from equal pay to improved employee loyalty to the improved bottom line of your company to the improved economy of the country.
We do not need to wait for congress to act or for the president to sign an executive order. Every woman who is involved in hiring can be a hero to all women by committing to changing the process every time there is a new job opening. Will you dare to be such a hero? Will you commit to making change? Please leave a comment if you will.