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Breaking the Glass Ceiling: What Will it Take for Your Company?

In Human Resources — by Dave Anderson


The gender pay gap is one of the most talked about examples of inequality in American society today. Hillary Clinton has made the issue a focal point of her presidential campaign, calling for an increase to the minimum wage and federal legislation that protects workers from employment discrimination. During the recent Republican National Convention, Ivanka Trump told the audience her father pushed for equal wages throughout his business career and will continue to do so as president.

Legislative action has already started on the state level. Just last week, Massachusetts became the first state to bar employers from asking about salary history in job interviews. Maryland and California also passed laws earlier this year explicitly stating males and females must be paid equal wages for doing the same job. Expect the momentum to continue as other states pass similar laws this year and beyond.

Real progress starts with companies

Even with strong words for candidates and new laws in a handful of states, there is still much progress to be made and government can only do so much. The legislative process moves at a glacial pace and new laws aren’t always effective.

It’s really up to individual companies to collectively take on income inequality. Executives and HR Departments have to confront and fight gender pay disparity within their organizations. These four companies already are, each using an unique approach:

  1. PricewaterhouseCoopers

The global accounting firm identified a wage gap in their company ten years ago when they started conducting annual salary studies. They publicly released pay inequality data last year, in an effort to increase transparency and accountability.

PwC has a long-term plan for solving the problem outlined on their website.

  1. Arjuna Capital

The Boston-based investment firm has stake in many well-known tech companies. They’ve used their seats in various boardrooms to force companies like Expedia, Amazon, Apple, Intel, and Ebay to commit to resolving pay discrepancies in their companies.

Director Natasha Lamb said in a statement that without direct effort from companies, the gender wage gap could live on until 2058. “Another 40 years is an unacceptable timeline that places not only women at a disadvantage, but keeps businesses from realizing their full potential and the financial benefits diversity affords,” she said.

  1. Salesforce

After analyzing wages company wide, Salesforce spent $3 million last year increasing the salaries of female employees to the same level as their male counterparts.

In an interview with CNN, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called out other companies for not doing the same. He pointed out that it’s easy to look at salaries by gender and job title using modern HR software. “This is so easy to do,” he said. “With just the push of one button, every CEO in the world can know exactly what their pay discrepancy is between men and women.”

The company also has plans to increase the percentage of females in tech and leadership roles over the next five years.

  1. The Gap

The clothing retailer and parent company of Old Navy and Banana Republic has long made gender equality a centerpiece of its culture. They publicly announced in 2014 their organization was free of income disparity and released data to support the claim.

A section of The Gap website is devoted to educating people on the issue. Women can estimate the wages they’ll lose throughout their lifetime using an interactive calculator. They also encourage visitors to raise awareness on social media using the hashtag #CloseThePayGap.

Take on your company’s wage gap

These are only a few of the many companies that have stepped up and committed to eliminating internal pay disparities. The White House announced in June that dozens of other large employers signed an Equal Pay Pledge.

The time is now for your company to join the fight. Paying employees equal wages attracts top talent to your company, motivates them to do their best work, and is quite simply the right thing to do.

Are you interested in learning even more about gender pay disparity? If so, check out our Business Guide “How to Close Your Company’s Gender Pay Gap”

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