It’s 2017, and women who work full-time still earn an average of just 80 cents for every dollar men earn. The debate surrounding this issue continues to divide, with some skeptics arguing the pay gap is much less—and due largely to the career choices of women. Yet studies consistently show the discrepancy in pay by gender, and the gap is most significant for women of color (65% for black women and 59% for Hispanic women, according to the Economic Policy Institute).
Researchers note that many factors contribute to this discrepancy—it’s rarely a simple matter of outright gender discrimination. The pay gap can vary across ages, occupations, education levels, hours worked, experience, locations and cultural factors. But even adjusting for these factors, the gap persists.
It’s true that women tend to choose occupations in fields that pay less (like social work or teaching), while men dominate high-pay industries (like engineering or computer programming). But even within similar occupations, men are paid higher wages than their female counterparts. The same is true with education: women with advanced degrees still earn less than men with bachelor’s degrees.
So what can employers do? According to Visier Insights’ 2016 study on gender pay equity, employers can take a number of important steps to make meaningful progress:
- Implement the “Rooney Rule”: for every manager position you have open to fill, consider "at least one woman and one underrepresented minority" in your slate of candidates;
- Implement blind screening, removing names (or other gender identifiers) from resumes when selecting candidates for interviews;
- Increase measurement and awareness of gender equity in the rollout or implementation of HR policies, including compensation policies.
Meanwhile, the rest of the community can work to eradicate the gender wage gap by supporting parental leave policies for both men and women; programs that expand high-quality, affordable childcare; and long-term programs aimed at removing the gender bias and social taboos associated with career choices. It’s a complicated matter, but employers that commit to equal pay have found it improves both the bottom line and the overall work environment, with increased employee satisfaction and productivity. iBi