Establishing equality and fairness is a fundamental human right, yet it has been one of humanity’s greatest challenges. Although women have made many strides and gains in the workforce, “equal pay day” is no where to be seen on the horizon. During the last couple of decades, the gap narrowed gradually. However, in most countries around the world, there is still a substantial gender pay gap, except for few cases of a remarkable reduction. But even this slow progress has stalled in recent years. According to the World Economic Forum’s forecast on the average pay for both genders globally, women will not earn equally as men for 217 years.
As for the United States, in 2017 the gap was still 20 percent, and we are at least 70 years away from closing the gender pay gap completely based on the latest data. If progress continues at the alarming rate seen since 2001, pay equity between men and women in the US won’t be reached until 2119. The gender gap manifests itself across the entire economy, when the pay of all women is compared to the pay for all men.
The issue is a lot more complex than simply unequal numbers on pay stubs, and the significant contributors to disparities run as deep in our psyches as they do in the very infrastructural fabric of our societies. We reached out to more than 30 CEOs and executives and asked them what they saw as the causes for the gender pay gap, and what we can do as a society to correct this.
Harry Glaser is a co-founder and CEO of Periscope Data, an end-to-end analytics platform enabling powerful data team collaboration, with more than 1000 customers globally. Prior to founding Periscope Data in 2012, Glaser was previously a product manager at Google. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
He is an active member of Project Include, a non-profit that uses data and advocacy to accelerate diversity and inclusion solutions in the tech industry, whose mission is to give everyone a fair chance to succeed in tech. He is also part of Founders for Change, a group of venture-backed founders who are dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion within their companies, and desire greater diversity at the highest levels of VC firms.
What I Believe Are The Root Causes of The Gender Wage Gap
Wide salary bands and negotiation practices for most roles can result in wide gender pay disparities. HR departments and hiring managers will — consciously or not — slot women into the lower end of the band and men into higher ends of the band. Men are also socialized to negotiate more aggressively and more frequently for salaries, and wide bands allow companies to give into these negotiations. Companies should decide in advance how much they pay for a role, and pay everyone in that role the same.
Teams that lack diversity at senior levels also have this problem. Even if the company is relatively diverse at lower levels, when there aren’t enough senior women, the overall numbers reflect a salary gap. The solution here isn’t finely sliced salary data: It’s a more diverse senior team!
We’ve also found that the problem sometimes starts with the recruiting process. Recruiters are motivated to get someone hired for the role as quickly as possible. So, you need to make it clear that you expect to see a diverse candidate pipeline. They probably won’t give you one initially, so it’s important to ask to see the whole pipeline,Š,,Šincluding people who were disqualified,Š,,Šand discuss why and if they should be reconsidered. This shows them how important addressing gender and diversity gaps are to you, and that you are willing to put in the work to source candidates directly.
What We Need To Do To Narrow The Gender Wage Gap
Pay women and men equally for the same role. It’s not hard! This should be a continuous process: Make sure you’re constantly evaluating your departments for equal pay in the same roles, and for equal pay across genders and other dimensions. Fix those issues as soon as you identify them by truing up pay. This can help keep the issue from getting out of control, and keep the solution from being a prohibitively expensive massive pay correction.
Often these issues — equal pay as well as diversity on the team — start with the fundamental culture. Teams that have grown large without thinking hard about these issues often find themselves in a bad place. These companies feel overwhelmed by the size of their challenges around diversity, inclusion and equality. They need to recognize that it’s ok to start small. It’s ok to set one goal at a time. You’ll be surprised how quickly it turns into a flywheel. One way is to just get up in front of the company and say it out loud in front of everyone: We want to be welcoming to be inclusive and welcoming of everyone. People from all walks of life should walk into the office and feel like it welcomes them. This should explicitly be a goal and a value. And if you’re running a bigger company, get your leadership team on board. Everyone from the CEO on down should be singing the same song about the importance of an inclusive culture.
At Periscope Data, we’ve made a commitment to equal pay through the equal pay pledge: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/07/fact-sheet-white-house-announces-new-commitments-equal-pay-pledge. We pay exactly the same to each employee in the same role. We purposefully built out a pay structure that was blind , based on outcomes, not tenure or how well someone negotiates during the offer stage. This helps us attract a more diverse team, and also enables us to have conversations around work output rather than tenure.