When we talk about the gender pay gap it’s important to put aside the political rhetoric and thoroughly examine the data that leads to a factual discussion. Worldwide, compensation for the same job or work seems to favor men, but in the United States, the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that employers pay men and women the same wages for equal work.
That said, gender discrimination still exists in the professional workplace. Being overlooked for promotions, being given unfavorable assignments, receiving less coaching from supervisors, and being paid less for the same job are all illegal under U.S. discrimination laws, including, for the final element in the list, the Equal Pay Act. According to Pew Research, about one in four women say they have been paid less money for the same job. With anti-discrimination laws on the books, those instances are less frequent—especially with companies that are publicly traded—than at any time in history when compensation of top executives must be reported. However, some privately held businesses have the flexibility to skillfully hide illegal compensation packages.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the truth and fiction surrounding the gender pay gap.
It may be easy to simply point out that there is gender discrimination when it comes to the pay gap between men and women. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 42% of working women had experienced gender discrimination at work, compared with 22% of men. This included pay inequality for the same job.
However, other factors can contribute to the discrepancy in pay, including:
For example, in the case of Jennifer Freyd v. University of Oregon, Professor Freyd filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon for paying her less than four of her male psychology department counterparts. The lawsuit was dismissed because the court said that all four of the men shouldered more varied and complex duties than those of Professor Freyd. In addition, the four male professors had all received retention raises because they had received handsome offers from other schools. In order to retain them, the university had to raise their pay. Contrarily, Professor Freyd never sought a retention raise, meaning she had never received similar offers.
So while gender may be a factor in pay gaps, it’s not the only factor in all cases where there seems to be discrimination.
As we discussed earlier, gender-based discrimination does exist. Companies have been doing it for years even though it’s illegal. If you are a woman and feel that you are receiving less pay for the same job being done by your male counterparts, you do have recourse. But here are some things you should keep in mind before assuming that you are being discriminated against:
Let’s say you do approach your boss and discover that you’re actually making MORE than many of the men who hold the same position within the company as you. Now what? What if the logical (not punitive) and “fair” remedy to the pay gap is for your employer to REDUCE your pay to their level? They actually agree with you! Now what do you do?
The better approach is not to look at others, but to look at yourself. Instead of going to your boss, there is another remedy for your perception that your pay is lower compared to your peers. Recognize the opportunity to explore ways to EARN a raise or promotion. How can you redefine your position? How can YOU add more value to your organization?
Buy putting in the extra effort, you make yourself more valuable as an employee within your current organization. Your initiative can result in the promotion or pay increase you’re looking for. If it fails to achieve the advancement you think it merits, you’ve at least made yourself more marketable elsewhere. As an employee, it’s important to understand your true value in the marketplace and develop a career strategy to better yourself without using any peer as a standard for comparison.
If you’re an employer, when you’re confronted with a pay discrimination issue, it could be an opportunity to help a talented professional grow. Ask the employee to develop a plan that outlines a path to get them to a pay increase or promotion. It may be eye-opening for the employee to discover that they aren’t delivering as much value as they thought they were. But you see their potential and are willing to show them the way to deliver the value that will fulfill that potential. By coaching them up, you can turn a potential uncomfortable situation into a win-win scenario.
Recommended Read: Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
Brookwoods Group is one of the Best executive search firms in Houston helping companies of all sizes find perfect-fit professionals across diverse industries, including change management; health, safety, and environment; corporate communications; engineering; marketing; and quality assurance. Contact our Marketing executive recruiters to get started.
If you’re not happy with your career, check out our openings to see whether there is one that’s the perfect fit for you. Submit your application and we’ll keep it on file and contact you if there’s interest. But don’t worry if we don’t reach out, keep following up with us and the right opportunity may come along.