Qwick Takes: Possible solutions to the gender pay gap
This week on TalkingBizNews.com, Deputy Editor Erica Thompson reached out to Qwoted’s community of experts to ask them about possible solutions to close the gender pay gap.
Check out some of the top commentary:
Jared Pop, CEO and Founder of Work Shield
The current issues of gender discrimination have been compounded in the last year, where women were more likely to be laid off or furloughed in continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, more than one in four women debated downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely, further driving a wedge in the gender gap in the workplace. Now more than ever, it is critical that businesses emphasize the importance of women in the workplace, particularly in positions of leadership. Gender discrimination and inequality is a very real problem in the workplace and something that every business should consistently address and eliminate.
It’s important that employees and leadership can both identify gender bias and understand how to respond to it in the workplace. In addition to providing training on how to spot and prevent gender discrimination, training should also focus on the benefits of gender equality in the workplace, including diversified talent and ideas that can ultimately improve the business’s bottom line. With regular training on how to combat gender discrimination and how to promote an equitable workplace such as the solutions, reporting and trainings, employers can work toward gender equality. In addition, organizations should regularly review processes like hiring and professional development to ensure that these do not include any type of gender discrimination. It’s also important for organizations to regularly review and update their anti-discrimination policies. With favorable court decisions broadening the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, policies can change from time to time based on new laws, and it’s critical that policies are up to date on the latest changes.
In addition to taking advantage of the above methods, it’s important that employers provide clear policies and proper resources to safely and effectively report on gender discrimination. Employees should be empowered to report any type of discrimination they experience, including gender discrimination, without fear of retaliation.”
Companies that are serious about gender pay gap must start with gender-neutral and family-friendly policies including a progressive and gender-neutral paid parental leave policy that extends beyond the bare minimum legal requirements. This, of course, benefits talent retention and creates deeper workforce engagement. Now that COVID-19 has taught the world that remote work is possible for most white-collar professionals, companies have no choice but to offer flexible working arrangements as a means of retaining women as they take on the role of caregivers, that too, unpaid.
Companies that call themselves family-friendly must have flexible and remote working policies will experience higher retention among employees that identify as mothers. This was documented in a 2017 report from BCG titled “Why Paid Family Leave Is Good Business”, which found that when Accenture and Google enhanced their paid parental leave policies, they saw a significant increase in talent retention among mothers. The trickle-down and ripple effect of this change has a much more drastic impact on solving the gender pay gap, much more than any pledges around committing to gender-balanced and diverse leadership. When companies establish policies that are gender-neutral and family-friendly, this on its own has removed biases in the system, increased transparency around equal pay for equal work, and has led to employee-led network-building opportunities.”
Millennials and Gen-Z’ers are seeing something that did not happen in previous generations. In 2020 the pay gap was 83 cents. Today, women under the age of 30 are paid 99 cents for every dollar that a man earns. This difference IS significant overtime, however these two generations are forcing employers to reassess their culture, brand, and workplace – that will ultimately impact the pay gap. They are challenging organizations to create inclusive cultures that accept everyone as equals and create environments that allow everyone to bring their full authentic self to work. They are demanding work-life balance; workplace and job flexibility; development opportunities; and along with that fair and equitable pay practices (they are not shy sharing their salaries with each other.). If an organization does not commit to these practices, our newest generations are not accepting the job and sharing why. Their words, actions, and demands will significantly impact business operations, policies, and practices – and they will be the leaders ensuring these changes happen.”
The pandemic has resulted in both employment and hiring challenges. With job seekers even more so in control and the Great Resignation in trend, employers need to reconsider ways to retain their employees and equal pay is vital. Employers should start by equally benchmarking experience rather than previous pay, education, or other similar metrics. In a perfect world, hiring managers are taking all of these points and some into account when making an offer. When in doubt, line managers should ensure monthly or quarterly reviews are candid and inclusive of those tough conversations that typically only happen at end of year reviews.
As a last point, acknowledging diversity and facilitating inclusion helps build more cohesive teams. Creating team-building opportunities and events where both men and women are represented equally promotes a positive workspace where individuals can be themselves and deliver their best work. This is as simple as opting to have a morning coffee hour vs always a cocktail happy hour in the evening. Specifically for women who are often disadvantaged, it provides a space where they are worthy of being paid the same as their male counterparts.”