Despite widespread publicity and concern, the fight against gender bias in pay practices has not gained the momentum it deserves. This failure can be attributed to conflicting conclusions from different studies; some deny the existence of such bias entirely. Now, the results from a large, long-term study seem to conclusively prove otherwise. Conducted over six years (2010 to 2016) and involving 11,000 participants, it confirms that women on average are paid significantly less than men. This was attributed to a larger proportion of women in lower-paying jobs and an inverse trend for the highest-paid positions.
According to the study, 121 women were hired for every 100 men in the $20,000 to $40,000 pay band while only 44 women were hired for every 100 men in jobs that paid over $150,000. In the medium band ($40,000 to $60,000), the gender ratio was equal. While the data shows that women did enjoy larger salary hikes during the study, their total compensation package suffered because they received consistently lower bonuses. Men received bonuses an average 17 percent higher than their female counterparts.
There was encouraging data for new hires. In the youngest age group (20 to 30 years), 121 women were hired for every 100 men. Meanwhile, their base pay was 99 percent that of men. However, these women earned an average 95 percent of what men of the same age earned, again because of bonuses. The authors of the study felt that the disparity was “…likely to represent some form of systemic gender bias in the workplace that may occur due to recruitment, promotion, performance review, or pay practices.”
It is unlikely that most employers, especially women, are deliberately discriminating against females; managers prefer to reward and retain their most capable employees. However, subconscious bias is just as detrimental. More importantly, it is just as susceptible to litigation and bad publicity. Responsibility lies with the manager and leadership to redress imbalances in pay equity. The right decisions have the power to boost morale and productivity while decreasing turnover. Many of the possible initiatives are as simple as they are effective:
- Ask the HR department for a review of staff pay, including bonuses. Assess whether gender bias exists after accounting for industry experience and individual capabilities.
- Review promotions for evidence of pay bias. Are talented individuals being overlooked because they earn less in favor of others who already earn more?
- Evaluate recruitment policy and procedures to identify any intrinsic bias in both hiring and the calculation of starting salary.
- Provide gender bias training to HR staff involved in hiring so they can address shortcomings in their own procedures. It should cover both hiring policy and remuneration.
- Initiate the creation of a transparent hiring and assessment roadmap that addresses gender bias. Place the emphasis on criteria that deliver tangible results for your company.
- More women are entering the workforce and bring with them an immense capacity to multitask, manage, and bring balance. Tap into their potential by ensuring that their contributions are duly rewarded.
Contact DeSantis Trusted Advisors today if you have any questions about eliminating gender bias in your organization