Yesterday was national gender pay gap day or more commonly known as Equal Pay Day. This “celebration” began as a way to highlight the gender pay gap by identifying how much longer in 1 day or week a woman would have to work to make the same amount of money as her male counterparts. There is a good podcast about its origins here from the team at How Stuff Works.
But it also definitely brings more national attention to the ridiculousness that is the gender pay gap. Perhaps the most reported story of the past few weeks on this issue has been that of the United States Women’s Soccer Team, who last year won the Women’s World Cup in the most watched soccer game in American history.
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5 members of the team filed a wage complain with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, exposing that like in so many other professions in the US, there is still tremendous gender pay gap between men and women performing the same job. To further understand the gender pay gap between the Men’s and Women’s National Soccer Teams, check out this graph from Statista:
While this complaint may be noteworthy for players’ salaries, it is important for employees and employers across America. Such a high profile example should encourage employers to be more transparent about being or becoming an equal pay employer. It should encourage employees to ensure that they are paid equally for the same work as their counterparts.
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One of the biggest problems though, and this is specific to the type of industry, is that many salaries are negotiated before hire. In the ‘white-collar’ space, salary is almost completely negotiated between the prospective hire and the employer. When it comes to hourly work, equal pay may be more transparent, but employees may fear losing their jobs if they raise a fuss. In other types of work, it might just be impossible to know what the person right next to you makes, since people rarely talk about it. In most cases, it may even be taboo.
So what are employers to do?
Their employees will rarely push the issue for fear of retribution. Meanwhile, most companies would do anything to save on an employer’s salary.
This moment – the moment of hiring a new employee – is the moment for a company to stand for more than just pure profit. It is this moment that an employer can advertise a standard salary, with incentives or bonuses based on performance. While this may lead to other issues, such as how performance is measured, it will allow each employee to feel that they are given a fair shot at maximum earnings.
Transparency as Commodity
No matter the result for the US Women’s Soccer Team, the main thing for employers, recruiters, and hiring managers to take away is that transparency in this day and age is a commodity. It is one that you can use to attract and retain the best talent. When an employee feels appreciated and like he or she has a stake in the company and performance, the company will benefit financially, culturally, and across its industry.