To achieve equal pay for women, companies need to pay their employees fairly. Many employees are not aware that since the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, it is unlawful for the private sector to prohibit employees from discussing wages and compensation.
Salary secrecy has straightforward and concrete consequences, including wage suppression and lack of transparency around pay inequity, disproportionately affecting women and minorities. The latest census data proves that women and people of color continue to earn less than their white colleagues for the same work.
Amii Barnard-Bahn, in her piece, How to Identify — and Fix — Pay Inequality at Your Company, recently published in the Harvard Business Review, provides actionable steps for companies to make sure they have fair payrolls.
Here is what she suggests to private sector leaders:
- Start pay equity audits (PEAs): compare the pay of employees doing “like for like” work. Differentials to keep in mind include: work experience, credentials, and job performance
- Determine any operational gaps leading to salary discrepancies
- Monitor hiring, promotion, and compensation processes regularly
- Fix any discrepancies
Barnard-Bahn reminds leaders it is a matter of integrity to prove to employees that they value their work through equal pay.
Read Amii Barnard-Bahn’s full article here
And if you are an employee who just found out that a colleague earns more than you for the same job, differentials aside, there are some steps to follow recommended by Rebecca Knight, Best Practices Columnist at Harvard Business Review and Insider Inc. Senior Correspondent covering careers and the changing workplace:
- Talk to your manager
- Think of ways they can fix the gap when a big raise isn’t possible
- Meet with HR to gather context
- Stay calm and clear-headed- don’t be rash
- Don’t name your higher-earning colleague during a salary review
- If your employer refuses to pay you market value for your role, don’t stay
Suppose there is no explanation for the difference. In that case:
- Get a lawyer
- File a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
- Find a new job and quit
Ultimately, not every job is worth a fight.