4 Ways to Make Sure Your Company Pays Women Equally

Here's what you can do to ensure your company is offering fair pay and opportunities for women

(Image: iStock by Getty Images)
(Image: iStock by Getty Images)

It’s not news that women earn less than men do. Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which requires that men and women in the same work place be given equal pay for equal work, in 2014, the typical woman working full-time all year in the United States earned only 79% of what the typical man earned working full-time all year. Phrased differently, she earned 79 cents for every $1 that he earned. The pay gap is even greater for African American and Latina women, with African American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every $1 earned by a white non-Hispanic man.

“You can’t negotiate your way out of discrimination,” says Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations at the American Association of University Women, a “one-stop shop” for gender equality.

Tech giants Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. recently disclosed that they pay their male and female employees equally. Or at least it’s 99.8 cents—not dollar-for-dollar. Just because a company is owned or controlled by people of color doesn’t equate to fair pay and equal treatment of female employees.

Eliot Burdett is an author, sales recruiting expert, and the co-founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006. Here he offers four ways to make sure your company offers equal pay and opportunities for women:

RE-THINK SALARY NEGOTIATION: According to TIME, underpaying employees can hurt a company’s bottom line. While negotiating a starting salary down 5% many save money in the short term, it ends up costing more in the long term. Employees that feel underpaid will have low productivity and this will lead to more turnover, which can cost enormous amounts of money.

MAKE SOMEONE ACCOUNTABLE: With so many responsibilities, measuring for gender equality may not always be the first priority of someone looking to hire. That is why it is absolutely critical for senior executives to designate individuals who will be responsible for monitoring pay practices. By making someone accountable, the issue will be studied with rigor and a true assessment will be made.

EVALUATE YOUR COMPENSATION SYSTEM ANNUALLY: Unequal pay may not be obvious on an individual basis, that is why an annual review is necessary to see the big picture and to course-correct if necessary. Measure for disparities based on race, ethnicity and gender and be sure to evaluate all forms of compensation, including: starting salary, benefits, bonuses, and career advancement opportunities.

REVIEW HIRING PRACTICES FOR SUBCONSCIOUS BIAS: Sometimes an unconscious bias affects an interviewer, even when they don’t realize it. It is critical to have a rigorous screening methodology that meets predetermined criteria with decisions based on proof and not gut feelings. By implementing criteria for job recruitment, placement, how pay is assigned to job classes, and how women and minorities are placed within your organization, you will be able to test all candidates in an ‘apples-to-apples’ manner.