Say what you will about women in the workplace, the fact of the matter is, there’s a considerable difference between men and women’s salaries in the US. The answer to why that is, is complicated and difficult to explain. What we do know, is that year after year, the BLS comes back with data reflecting the fact that women earn less than men. According to BLS’ data, since 2003, women earn 80%, more or less, of what men do each year. Aside from cite depressing statistics, what can those of us in HR do to change it? A lot, actually.
3. Don’t participate in “subtle sexism” when hiring.
More people participate in subtle sexism in hiring than would care to admit. Imagine there are two hopefuls for an entry-level position, both qualified, eager, unmarried, young professionals, one’s a man, one’s a woman. They’ll both undoubtedly get married and start a family in the next ten years, but it’s the woman who will likely have to take time off, which can be draining for a company. Don’t be daunted by potential issues that could arise with female employees. Instead embrace them, there’s plenty of information out there about the benefits of maternity leave, look into it. Hire based on quality of the candidate, simple as that. Don’t let gender based biases effect your decision.
2. Promote a women, instead of hiring a man, for C-suite positions.
Much of the problem with the wage gap, is that there are far fewer women in powerful positions than men. This could be due to the lack of women in MBA programs, or a number of other issues. One way to remedy this complex conundrum: promote a woman from within, instead of searching for a perfectly qualified candidate, when hiring for a high level position. Because women often lack the graduate degrees and years of experience at the C-suite level, needed for these positions, a promotion is the perfect opportunity to move a woman into a more powerful role. It will also save you in hiring costs.
1. Speak up about income disparity between genders.
This one may seem obvious, but it is the most important. If you see major income gaps between men and women doing pretty much the same thing, or women getting passed over for the more lucrative clients, positions, or deals, say something! Make the promotions, or salary adjustments needed, and fix the problem. A culture of unspoken sexism, is unethical, to say the least, and it’s your job as an HR pro to correct this.
Very few people want women to earn less than men in this day and age. Few people take the steps needed to change this reality either, however. Instead of wondering what you can do to make a difference, take these small steps, to making big changes.