Pay Parity Survey: Half of Companies Reviewing Compensation Policies After #TimesUp

The entertainment industry, which opened the floodgates on sexual misconduct and inequity for women late last year, will celebrate the achievements of various artists this Sunday at the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony. As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to facilitate conversations about sexual assault and misconduct, another topic will surely pervade the event: pay parity.

“Several female performers have come forward to reveal that their male colleagues and co-stars made, in some cases, significantly more money for the same work. This disparity is not limited to the entertainment industry by any stretch. Employers in all industries at companies of all sizes are examining their compensation structures to ensure their workers are being paid fairly for their contributions, regardless of sex,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

In a survey conducted among 150 human resources executives, 48 percent of companies responded that they are reviewing their compensation policies to guarantee pay parity, focusing on gender due to the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Another 17 percent are not reviewing their policies.

Twenty-eight percent responded that they are already paying male and female workers equally.

The survey was conducted in January among companies of all sizes in various industries across the United States.

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According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, on average, women in the United States earn 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. This number can be even lower in certain industries and for women of color. What makes the wage gap so controversial is that the idea of equal opportunity is ingrained deeply in American culture. People who believe the wage gap is a myth argue that women are not being paid less than men, but rather women are choosing to enter lower-paying careers and prioritizing family over career aspirations. In addition, they point out that in some positions, women make more than men.

“Most importantly, regardless of whether or not the wage gap exists in any measurable form, companies, employees, and managers should do everything they can to make sure that equal work means equal pay across the board,” said Challenger.

One way companies could ensure pay parity is by implementing salary transparency, allowing workers to see what their colleagues and superiors make. In a survey conducted by Challenger in November 2014, 55 percent of human resources executives responded that companies should practice salary transparency in some form – either full salary transparency or providing a range of compensation for each position for workers to review.

Despite the desire for salary transparency, only 3 percent of companies surveyed by Challenger in January 2018 execute salary transparency, allowing employees to view compensation ranges for each position. Ninety percent of companies do not implement any kind of salary transparency, while 7 percent provide salary information on a need-to-know basis.

“If salary transparency is not an available avenue, other tactics can help ensure employers are creating cultures that value pay parity. These include regularly reviewing job descriptions, making pay parity a priority on the Board and C-Suite level, or engaging a third party to analyze compensation structures,” said Challenger.

In fact, when asked what actions companies could take to ensure pay parity, 31 percent of respondents suggested engaging outside counsel to audit compensation structures.

Challenger offered additional advice to help combat pay disparity.

For Employees:

  • Research: When going into a new position, employees need to know how much money they should be making. Check Glassdoor or PayScale, compare with companies in the same industry, and try to find employment information within a company if it is available.
  • Negotiate: You will not get paid more money if you do not ask for it. Reasonable negotiation is key to making sure that you are not paid less than you should be.

For Managers:

  • Advocate: As you start to move up in a company, you have knowledge about how those below you are paid, and with this knowledge you have the power to enact change. If you notice that there are wage gaps within positions that you control, be an advocate and let upper management know that they should look more closely at compensation plans.
  • Vote: With higher positions in an organization often comes stock options and the ability to vote on policy. Speak up if you see something you feel marginalizes any group, and pay attention to the policy that comes to vote.

For Companies:

  • Culture: Shaping culture is not always easy, but it is a necessary part of making sure the wage gap does not exist in your company. Equality initiatives and taking employee suggestions on workplace equality can make a huge difference when it comes to closing the wage gap and making sure everyone is being treated equally.