Does Santa arrive on February 24 with Christmas presents for your daughters?
As parents we strive to treat our children the same, after-school activities, homework, pocket money, household chores – boys and girls get the same, the thought of making our daughters wait until almost the end of February for their Christmas presents whilst watching their brother open theirs on Christmas Day seems unthinkable!
This unthinkable however becomes a reality once we enter the grown up world of work. The average women in Switzerland needs to work 551 days longer than a man to earn the same salary, for the same work – this year’s equal pay day was on February 24. According to the European Commission, at the current rate of progress, the salary gap will close by 20772, by then my daughters will be 78 and 76 years old! And I (probably) sadly will not be around to witness this fundamental measurement of equality take place.
Government legislation regarding non-discrimination has been in force for years, and 73 countries in Europe have even gone so far as to legislate the representation of men and women on company boards. How come in-equal pay is still acceptable for equal work?
We can all make a difference to closing the gap by carrying out these conscious micro-actions every day:
1. Set starting salaries based on internal benchmarks – not previous salary levels
As human beings, we are all susceptible to unconscious biases, one of these is called ‘anchoring’. This is where our mind gets fixed on an initial number (the previous salary), with the result that when it comes to offering a new salary, there is a tendency to anchor too much on someone’s current salary instead of what the job is actually worth.
A micro-action Google has taken is to exclude the candidate’s previous salary data from the hiring process. The results are clear – during 2015, women hired at Google received a salary increase on joining that was 30% higher on average than their male counterparts4.
Another simple action is to use pre-defined salary grids, the pay gap starts when people enter the workforce (in the UK, male apprentices are paid upto 2.0oo GBP p.a more than their female colleagues)5 widely communicating and tracking the adherence to these starting salaries will level the playing field.
2. Regularly track and monitor your workforce pay – know your numbers
Take emotion out of the equation by monitoring on an ongoing basis the compensation of your talent to identify and action any discrepancies. Research shows that 25% of Companies5 are not regularly tracking this data. In addition, we all want to attract the very best talent to our organization, over 90% of potential candidates will choose to work for an employer that publically states they pay equally.
3. Be aware of the “Breadwinner” bias – seek a challenger for your pay decisions
Have you ever awarded a higher pay rise to a man because you knew they were the sole income earner of the family? I know this is a hard question to answer no to truthfully. A solution could be to benchmark and seek input and challenge from peers and HR. When comparing multiple data sets, unconscious biases are mitigated and decisions based on fact and proof.
4. Review your reward policies to ensure fairness in remuneration practices
HR policies are the building blocks of how we manage the hire to retire cycle of our employees, often they can be: written, published and then set in stone. I encourage you to review these policies and practices to ensure there is fairness in all remuneration and recognition procedures. Be transparent with your workforce, clearly stating what you value and recognize, and how they will be assessed and rewarded. This ensures everyone has the tools and knowledge at their fingertips of what it takes to “get on”.
5. Become an EQUAL-SALARY employer
Finally, and most importantly, “Talk the Walk” – by becoming an EQUAL-SALARY employer. Every company and culture has a different approach to how they talk about salaries, for some it is taboo and others a dinner party conversation topic. The key is to recognize and understand where are the gaps (for top earners the gap is higher than low earners – 20% vs 5%7) and put in place process interrupters (e.g. user salary grid when discussing promotions) to permanently ensure we are proactively and objectively rewarding and promoting the men and women who deserve it.
Through these micro-actions every one of us can ensure Santa arrives on the same day for everyone.
PwC are partners with the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation – certifying companies that pay men and women equally around the globe.