“Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost.” – Sheryl Sandberg, CEO, Facebook
Now that the brouhaha raised over the statements of Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has brought the matter back into focus, we want to take a dispassionate look at the larger question about the fairness of the paychecks being received by the ‘fairer sex’.
Women get paid less than men, even at white collar jobs. This has been proved time and again by various surveys and also from the anonymous information hosted on sites like Glassdoor. According to a report published by Glassdoor, women earn 77 Cents to every dollar earned by men. What is more, at least 42% of them are completely aware of this unfair practice of their employer! In a study by Hannah Bowles, senior lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, both men and women were asked to seek pay raises using identical scripts. While the men continued enjoying their original standing, the women were looked upon as aggressive and their reputations took a beating. The study goes on to propose tactics that can be adopted by women when seeking a raise, like negotiating for their whole team or using their feminine charms when they bring the subject up.
No one can truthfully claim that women are less productive, less qualified, or less capable than men. According to numbers tracked in 2008-2009, In the United States, women earned more bachelor’s (57.2%), master’s (60.4%), and doctoral degrees (52.3%) than men.
So, why would they settle for less pay? Why would anyone offer them less pay, and how can they get away with it? Are women being held back by cultural expectations which prevent them from standing up for themselves – afraid that they would be perceived as too aggressive? Are employers taking unfair advantage of this aspect of women’s workplace behavior to keep them from achieving their true potential?
Nearly every major company around the globe will find in its statement of values or code of business ethics a sentence that speaks to “respect for all workers” and “merit-based compensation”. What can be done about the gap between corporate desire and actual business practices? As is true in any change management initiative, companies require fact-based decision-making, leadership, communication, and training.
On a regular basis, at least once each year, companies should analyze worker compensation. Comparisons must go beyond company-wide statistics, evaluating differences within each function and location. Analyses should go beyond salary to look at frequency and amount of bonuses and other rewards for top performance. Today, this information is tightly held within the Human Resources organization. It should be shared with line managers, with drill-downs into major discrepancies.
Clearly, legislation that has been passed over the past fifty years, including the Equal Pay Act, FMLA, and other laws, establishes a basis for equitable treatment and compensation. The vast majority of companies fully comply with these laws. Unfortunately, strong evidence indicates that regulations aren’t enough to truly close the gender gap. Corporations need to establish and execute plans to address this issue.
Share with us some successful initiatives that your company has implemented.
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