The gender pay gap is nothing new. The first National Equal Pay Day occurred 23 years ago. April 2nd, National Equal Pay Day, symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
Why is the wage gap so important? The truth of the matter is corporations need women. Studies show that gender diversity helps businesses avoid stagnation and may even lead to increased financial returns. If companies want to reap the benefits of female employees, they need to foster a women-friendly workplace. Paying them 82 cents to the dollar that men earn not only isn’t ethical, but it’s also a violation of their right to equal pay.
Here are our 4 ways companies can work to 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 French 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—and 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 equal treatment. Companies can also ask for anonymous applications to diminish the chance of hiring biases and eliminate biases from job descriptions by removing excessive and often-unfamiliar corporate jargon.
Take a hard look at how much you pay each employee
Recruitment and hiring isn’t the only area that could use a thorough examination. Slightly more than a 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 that they are compensating their 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 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, like using metrics to assess employees’ performance. When a higher-level job becomes available, encourage all interested employees to apply rather than picking the “favorite” option. Studies show that employers tend to hire and promote those who remind them of themselves. Make a point to diversify the pool of candidates by reaching out to diversity-focused ERGs.
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 shadow executives. Other successful programs include lectures by industry experts and mentorship programs pairing 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, they “force” 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 to close it. Companies that are proactive about closing this gap today are thinking ahead about the long-term future of our workforce and their success.