4 Steps Businesses Can Take to Rally Behind Equal Pay

By Art Langer,
business.com writer
Apr 07, 2019
Image Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Follow these four steps to ensure equal pay at your business

Why is the wage gap so important? The truth of the matter is that businesses need women. Studies show that gender diversity helps businesses avoid stagnation and may even lead to increased financial returns. If companies want the benefits that female employees bring to organizations, they need to foster a women-friendly workplace. Paying them 82 cents to the dollar that men earn not only isn't ethical but also violates their right to equal pay.

Here are our 4 ways companies can close the gender pay gap.

Develop a diversity recruitment plan with metrics

Make a concerted effort to diversify the workplace and create an inclusive environment. To do so, companies should compose a diversity recruitment plan with quantifiable goals to measure their recruitment and hiring achievements. Sodexo, a global company repeatedly recognized for its gender diversity, has been working toward the goal of having women comprise 40 percent of its senior leadership by 2025. It publishes its progress in a public annual report.

Accountability increases the likelihood of meeting diversity goals and shows that the company is serious about diversifying its staff and providing equal treatment to its employees.

When hiring, companies can ask for anonymous applications to diminish the chance of hiring biases. They can also eliminate biases from job descriptions by removing excessive and often-unfamiliar corporate jargon.

Take a hard look at how much you pay each employee

Slightly more than one-quarter of U.S. companies analyze the salary difference between women of color and other groups in comparable roles, according to Lean In. It's a concerning oversight when you consider that in 2017, black women earned 67.7 percent of what white men earned, and Hispanic women earned even less at 62.1 percent, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

By conducting a pay audit, companies can visibly see where gaps and potential biases exist and adjust salaries accordingly. Compare your pay scales to industry standards to determine whether you are compensating employees fairly and competitively across genders and race.

Rebuild the promotional ladder

When you look at the faces around your leadership table, who do you see? Only 21 percent of U.S. companies have implemented gender targets for promotions to ensure that diversity starts at the top levels of the organization. Yet, setting a diversity goal and measuring success in achieving it allows a company to see how it can make its promotional ladder more inclusive.

For an inclusive promotional structure, conduct bias-free annual evaluations that use metrics to assess employee performance. When a higher-level job becomes available, make a point to diversify the pool of applicants and encourage all interested employees to apply rather than handpicking a candidate. Studies show that employers tend to hire and promote those who remind them of themselves. 

Spotlight women and minorities in mentorship programs and training

Through mentorship and training programs, women can get an up-close look at what it takes to operate as a high-level executive. Take note of IBM. The tech company created a year-long program for women that allows them to customize a development and leadership plan – with help from their managers – and job shadow executives.

Other successful programs give women the opportunity to attend lectures by industry experts and participate in mentorship programs that pair junior and mid-level professionals with senior-level women executives. Not only do mentorship programs often make women feel more comfortable and confident in the workplace, but they also encourage executive leadership to notice women so they don't fly under the professional radar.

Equal pay for women is only a matter of time, but until then, National Equal Pay Day will continue to highlight the wage gap that exists and call attention to our shortfalls. Companies that are proactive about closing this gap today are thinking ahead about the long-term future of our workforce and their success.

Dr. Arthur M. Langer is the Chairman and Founder of Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a nonprofit committed to developing the skills of untapped talent from underserved and veteran communities through partnerships with organizations dedicated to diversifying their workforce. He is Professor of Professional Practice, Director of the Center for Technology Management, and Academic Director of the M.S. in Technology Management programs at Columbia University. He serves on the faculty of the Department of Organization and Leadership at the Graduate School of Education (Teachers College). Dr. Langer consults with corporations and universities on information technology, staff development, management transformation, and curriculum development around the globe. Prior to joining the full-time faculty at Columbia University, Dr. Langer was Executive Director of Computer Support Services at Coopers and Lybrand, General Manager and Partner of Software Plus, and President of Macco Software.
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