Tackling The Number One Cause Of Gender Inequality At Work: Unequal Pay
Unequal pay is the top factor impacting inequality in workplaces today, according to the Randstad US, Women In The Workplace 2018report. “We need to look at what women bring to the role, beyond a few bullet points in a job description. Are we paying women aligned with the work that they are doing? I don’t think anyone does this analysis,” says Audra Jenkins, Randstad North America Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
The report finds that nearly a quarter of all female employees surveyed do not believe they are being paid fairly - compared to their male counterparts. These results are based on a survey of over 700 men and women across the United States.
Women in the United States earn on around 79 cents for every dollar that men earn but this gap is much worse for women of color. Overcoming this is critical for retaining women in the workplace. Randstad’s report suggests that about half of female workers would leave a job if they learned a male counterpart was making more.
In this interview Jenkins shares, why closing the pay gap is critical to advancing gender equality in the workplace and what companies can do to make sure women get their fair share.
Michelle King: Unequal pay structures were identified in the report as the number one contributing factor to gender inequality at work. Why is this?
Audra Jenkins: There is a lot more discussion around pay. It used to be taboo. You just didn’t talk about pay in the workplace. Now that women are wanting to understand what a role pays and where they will fit into that. Pay is becoming a bigger issue in the workplace. When you find out there is a pay gap you start to reevaluate how valued you are by your company. That is why this is at the top of the list.
King: What can companies do to close the gap?
Jenkins: You have to take a realistic view of what is required for an actual job. The problem for most companies is that they are looking at a job description from twenty years ago. They don’t look at current market trends, or what it takes to really do the job. If someone is valuable to your organization and has skills that are not outlined in the job description then that is the problem. Companies need to ask themselves if they are really paying people for the job they do? We pay people based on their job title and a list of descriptions, but is that everything they do? We all have many hats and do more than what is outlined in our job description.
King: And what about women, how can we ensure that we are being paid fairly?
Jenkins: One of the things we do at Randstad is we publish these annual salary guides. It is broken down by industry, job title and cities. I think women need to educate themselves on their value. Are we getting compensated for the work that we do?
A lot of times women struggle with this. For example, you know we might look at a job and think well I only meet 90 percent of the requirements so I better not apply for the opportunity. But men look at the same job and say I qualify for 50 percent. So, men may not be as qualified as women but they will get the role.
King: How do you see the pay gap changing in the future world of work?
Jenkins: One of the biggest challenges for women will be robotics and automation. The World Economic Forum suggests that robotics will replace women at twice the rate of men. That should be a concern for women who may be impacted by automation. Women need to start now to retrain and get the skills they need to stay relevant in the workforce of the future. One of the things we are doing is developing return-ship programs for women, so that we can support women who have taken time off to return to work or develop their skills so they can return to work.