Updated: Mar 10
It’s 2019 and women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to PayScale. Data from Pew Research gives it a marginal bump up to 85 cents and further notes it would take an additional 39 days per year for women to earn the same as men. Younger workers fare somewhat better at 89 cents, but no matter how you look at it, there’s still a pay gap.
To be clear, it is not because women take time off to raise families. In fact, female new grads without children still only earn 93% of what their male counterparts do, per AAUW. It is also not because women take lower-paying jobs than men. The disparity is seen even in fields like food service, where women only earn 87% of what men do, per the New York Times.
Research from Pew indicates 42% of women have faced discrimination at work. While the most common is pay, an alarming 23% were treated as if incompetent, 16% experienced repeated small slights, and a whole host of other issues, like receiving less support, being passed over for assignments and promotions, and feeling isolated were also reported. How would your company fare if female employees were asked if they experienced these issues? If you can’t provide a statistical answer from your last round of employee surveys, you’re not asking the right questions yet.
2) Correct Disparities
If you find reports of discrimination, correct it. Easier said than done, but if you struggle to find female employees, as some schools say frequently occurs in particular STEM fields, change up your hiring strategy or work with a staffing firm to even things out. If women are feeling unsupported, create a mentorship program. If you don’t have a way to fix it, bring in expert help.
3) Offer D&I Training
Diversity and Inclusion training can help employees understand the value in diversity and improve the way they interact with your organization. This may help clear up other issues you uncover in surveys, like feelings of isolation or being passed up for assignments and promotions.
4) Offer Transparency
Be authentic and let employees know what’s happening and why you’re making changes. It’s also a good idea to set up transparent pay scales and establish ways to provide raises and promotions is a manner which is not subject to unconscious bias.
5) Diversify Leadership
Data from Pew indicates women hold just 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. American Progress takes this a step farther and points out that the number of Black female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies is precisely zero at the moment. This isn’t good for women and it isn’t good for the companies either, as gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers, per McKinsey, and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to. That said, diversifying the leadership team encourages diversity within the rest of the company too.
6) Offer Paternity Leave
One primary argument as to why women earn less is due to time away to care for families. A huge part of this is that women receive maternity leave and men do not. Offering paternity leave is good for male employees, but it also takes the strain off female employees too.
7) Provide Flexible Work Arrangements
Realistically, all your employees can benefit from flexible work arrangements, be it looser scheduling, telecommute days, or remote opportunities. However, this specifically benefits female employees as well because they’re statistically more likely to have familial obligations, per the BLS, like taking care of sick kids and other family members.