You may not have heard of Equal Pay Day, as it is not necessarily a cause for celebration. This day represents how far into the year a woman must work to earn the same amount as men made the previous year.
This means that by 24 March in 2021, women have worked an extra 3 months for the same salary. The gap widens even further when you factor in ethnicity, age, and disabilities.
52% of men surveyed believe that workplaces are equal, and women have just as many opportunities as them. Yet women, on average, make 74% of what men do. And while the gender pay gap has decreased slightly, a Glassdoor study says it won’t disappear entirely until 2070.
With data like that, it is hard to deny that the gender pay gap is a real and pervasive problem. So, what can we do about it?
Fortunately, there are lots of steps we can take to combat inequality in the workplace. Here are 9 steps every company can take to close the gender pay gap.
1. Recognise that the pandemic shifted the balance in a negative way
COVID-19 disrupted business in ways we have never seen before and resulted in women — especially mothers, senior-level women and Black women — facing distinct challenges. The annual Women in the Workplace report makes that very clear.
76% of mothers with children under age 10 say childcare is one of their top challenges, compared to 54% of fathers with young children. They are also more than twice as likely as fathers to worry that their performance is judged negatively because of caregiving responsibilities.
Women are currently 1.5 times more likely than senior-level men to think about downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to COVID-19. If women leaders leave the workforce, women at all levels could lose their most powerful allies and champions.
Without bold steps to rectify these new imbalances, all the progress we have made towards closing the gender wage gap could be erased.
2. Mind the gap – don’t ignore it
Before change can happen, there needs to be an increase in awareness. It’s tough to notice how the gender pay gap impacts other employees if you are not the one being affected. For the most part, the working world was originally created by men, for men.
However, since this is no longer the case, the workplace needs to be an equal environment on all fronts. The amazing part is that companies see a 53% return on equity, 42% return on sales, and a 66% return on invested capital when this happens.
3. Stop asking what people currently make
During the interview process, it has become commonplace to ask how much a prospective candidate currently makes. Many companies then offer an X% increase based on that answer. Unfortunately, this method just enforces the gender pay gap.
Instead, use market salary and internal pay data to make sure all employees are paid equally. The same data can also be used during performance reviews to bring current employees up to the same level as each other.
4. Diversify your interviewers
Companies understand that they need to hire a diverse workforce, but understanding simply isn’t enough. For change to happen, you need to actually diversify the people doing the interviews.
Ensuring interviewers are diverse reduces the tendency to hire the same kinds of people over and over again. It also minimises the chances of unconscious bias coming in to play. Always remember cultural fit is about shared values, not about being visually similar to each other.
5. Transparency in pay
A woman will never be able to ask for an equitable pay raise if she has no idea what her male counterparts are earning. When pay is treated as a closely guarded secret, women are the ones to suffer the most.
By publishing the wage ranges for all levels of roles, you are equalling the playing field. Transparency is proven to shrink the gender pay gap.
6. Conduct pay equality audits
One simple way companies can remedy the gender pay gap is to conduct pay equity audits. Look for discrepancies between pay rates and ensure all employees of equal experience and in similar roles are paid the same – no matter their gender or race.
If you are a manager with a voice in pay and raise decisions, look at your team and ask, “Who is doing equivalent work, and are they being paid equally?” Coworkers at the same level should be compensated fairly compared to each other.
7. Invest in female leadership potential
Start ensuring that high achieving women in your workplace are recognised equitably in your succession planning.
Have active, ongoing conversations about advancement, and set career goals during quarterly reviews. Encourage women to pursue opportunities at every level of the corporate ladder.
When companies achieve better female representation at the top, something interesting happens – the gender pay gap shrinks. Better balance in the boardroom may explain the smaller pay gap.
8. Make diversity part of your core values
Core values matter. And they have the power to transform how your company treats its employees. They might just be words, but those words have power when they are repeated daily. The repetition helps to normalise them.
Your core values should always support diversity and closing the gender pay gap. In fact, they will ensure you are viewed as an inclusive, forward-thinking company, and help you attract smart, highly-qualified candidates.
9. Evaluate your corporate practices
Companies need to consider their current practises and question their decision-making process when it comes to pay. Small tweaks made consistently can affect significant change across the board.
Only then can we begin to close the gender pay gap permanently.
Close the gender pay gap and empower women in your workplace
It has never been easier to close the gender wage gap, create gender diversity and empower women. Yet, the simple changes that should be easy to implement aren’t being made.
If you want to build a workplace where women thrive, these issues need to be addressed immediately. Otherwise, we will lose the highly competent and qualified women we already have.