Women have come a long way since we first entered the workforce in mass in the middle of the last century. We have achieved higher overall earning potential, improved pay and opportunities, better working conditions and protection from harassment and higher rates of promotion and career advancement all around compared to even just ten years ago. And yet… while huge advances have been made, the race for gender pay equality is far from over.
As of 2014, women still take home only 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Organizations like the Institute for Women’s Policy Research work to find new ways to improve working conditions for women at the policy level, but while legislators and policymakers sort out the top level details, there are concrete, actionable things you can do right now as an employer or hiring manager to help shrink the gender gap from the bottom up.
If you are an employer:
- Run the Numbers. Do women at your company make less money than men who do the same job? How do you know? The gender pay gap is not just the result of overt discrimination. Much of the difference comes from either unintentional or internal bias or from differences in how men and women negotiate. Whatever the cause, you can help identify any potential issues with a simple spreadsheet. Women are typically much less likely to speak up and ask for a raise than their male counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be rewarded for quality work.
- Increase Pay Transparency. Gone are the days of corporate mandated salary secrecy. Allowing and even encouraging employees to compare salaries helps reassure everyone that your policies are fair and above board. Implementing pay transparency practices not only helps prevent wage inequality, but it also forestalls the appearance of inequality even where none exists. If your company still keeps salary information under lock and key, consider lightening up the security.
- Offer Childcare Support Incentives. Difficulties in arranging and paying for childcare keep many talented women out of the work force. Make it easier for moms to go back to work by including childcare incentives in your employee benefit package. Giving your employees access to a Dependent Care Reimbursement Account along with your usual benefits package allows them to use pretax dollars to help pay for qualified childcare expenses. Even something as simple as adding a little flexibility to the work day can make a huge difference to parents working around school bus or daycare schedules.
“However, the case for the social and economic empowerment of women far transcends the importance of social justice and its siren call for greater gender equality. It’s about harnessing the full quota of talent, creativity, and emotional intelligence and ingenuity that women possess in abundance to ensure a better future for everyone—men and women alike!”