If I give you a job that I expect you to perform duties X, Y, and Z, your salary should not be determined by your gender.
It’s hard to believe that there is any debate over this issue. But yet, study after study shows that it is common for women to earn less than their male counterparts who perform identical jobs. On average, women in the United States are paid 20% less than men. Black women are paid 38% less, and Latinas are paid 47% less.
As a leader, make this personal. Think about the salary your daughter would deserve. Research has shown that the pay discrepancies with male managers are less than with managers who have daughters.
To keep the shroud on salaries, some employers threaten employees who discuss their wages with colleagues. Congress tried to get involved. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit using salary history in setting pay for new hires. As it stands now, an underpaid female who shares her current salary with a prospective employer, may be setting themselves for a salary offer that is less than a male might get. But as straightforward as that legislation sounds, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected, saying that the bill would take away the ability of businesses to use legitimate factors such as experience and education to differentiate pay levels. The bill went nowhere.
Other countries are more advanced than the U.S. in this area. In 2018, Iceland became the first country to mandate that companies prove they are paying men and women equal wages. Employees have to score each worker based on duties, responsibility, and physicality. If they fail to demonstrate fairness, the companies face significant fines.
It is not easy to fix pay discrepancies overnight. This might be particularly difficult for nonprofits who have minimal financial resources. But if you hope to recruit the best talent and keep them happy, all leaders should be committed to equal pay for equal jobs.
Start by auditing what you pay your employees. Take into consideration job duties — figure in other important factors like experience and education.
Use consultants or your H.R. department (if you have one) to see what other similar organizations are paying.
Fix discrepancies and if there aren’t resources to correct them in one year, develop a two or three-year plan.
Also, look at the way employees are promoted. Are men and women given the same consideration? Try the blind resume test. Take a look at credentials without knowing the gender of the person.
Be transparent about how salaries are set and don’t prohibit your staff from openly discussing their salaries.
When offering someone a job, be willing to pay the same no matter the applicant’s gender. Looking at salary history can only perpetuate the problem.
Not letting employees negotiate for a salary can also lead to problems. A study found that 57% of men attempted to negotiate their pay compared to only 7% of women.
Take these steps because it’s the right thing to do. It will keep your workforce happy and more productive.