Recent changes in Gender Gap Wages
At the end of 2021, we wrote an article on the gender crisis that arose out of 2020. And at the time of reporting, a Pew Research Center survey showed that women on average earned 84% of what men earned. However, recent updates from the Pew Research Center revealed some new information that may surprise you. According to their study examining the wages of young women and men working in large corporations across metropolitan centres in the United States, women are actually out-earning men! Of course, this does not mean all women are earning more than men. In fact, the Pew Research Center website makes clear that women in the U.S. still on average earn less than men. But their most recent study shows that metropolitan areas are making waves in encouraging equitable pay to decrease the differences in gender gap wages.
While improvements in some way or another are always encouraging, this change in salary seems to be limited to a certain age group. This means that although young female workers may earn similar salaries to their male counterparts, the wage gap will increase as they age. By the time female workers reach 35, they on average tend to earn only 80% of what males do. So, how can we continue fighting against the gender gap? How can we ensure that everyone is earning fair and livable wages? Let’s start by opening up the conversation.
Why You Should Discuss Your Salary with Your Colleagues
It may seem like a taboo topic, but discussing your pay can be a life changing discussion. If you feel you are putting far more work into your job than a peer who is paid far more than you, it will cheapen your work. You may even start to resent towards or feel unvalued at your current workplace. Try discussing your wages with peers, particularly with those with similar seniority and responsibilities. You can even use this information as leverage when asking for a raise. This is particularly important if you feel regret for not having asked for a higher wage during your interview process.
Confidence can be a major factor in your projected self-worth and even your value to your employer(s) and colleagues. Often times, recruiters and HR professionals make salary decisions based on first-impressions, like if a candidate seems to have low-confidence and/or asks for a low salary out of desperation for the position. And unfortunately, often, companies will accept these low salary requests happily, even if they had budgeted to pay more for your position.
Workers have even been known to ask for paycuts themselves out of poor confidence in the workplace. And this all boils down to having poor communication between employees and employers. That is, instead of sharing information openly, misinformation can spread about salary, position responsibilities, and values within the company. So while it is crucial to discuss salary amongst yourselves if you are an employee, it is equally as important to enforce the right kind of environment if you’re an employer.
Worker Rights in the U.S. and in Canada
Although this topic is starting to gain traction in some workplaces across the U.S. and Canada, many workers are still not discussing their wages at work. Many assume that if their workplace does not offer a policy that defends their right to do something, they may be punished for doing so. But the truth is, many companies do not have a policy against it. Or if a company does, they may be violating laws and legislation that are made to protect workers.
With that said, the reality is, having an open policy about discussing wages is beneficial for employees and employers alike. In fact, an article from the Harvard Business Review from 2019 reveals that when companies disclose wages, their gender gaps are able to shrink without any significant income losses. So, there truly is nothing to lose—only things to gain!
What Employers Can Do to Improve Gender Gap Wages
1. Enforce a fair policy
Whether or not you work in a country that enforces it by law, having a policy that allows for regular discussions of salary (if employees feel comfortable doing so) is a great start. As mentioned previously, as well, open discussion can work towards closing the gender gap. It can also improve overall morale and feelings of equality.
2. Negotiate fair salaries before hiring
Often times, in interviews, candidates are simply aiming to please. They may feel like they might have a better chance at getting a job offer by aiming low. And even if this saves the company money, this can be a very dishonest and unfair practice to perpetuate. Sometimes, this can even lead to a worker’s low confidence and low self-worth in a position. This can lead to them seeking work elsewhere, meaning you’ll have to start the hiring process all over again.
3. Offer open communication on salary discrepancies
Make sure that your employees know, both before and while they are working for you, that they have the right to request a reasonable pay increase with each passing year. This will encourage an open opportunities for honest discussions so you know exactly where you stand with your employees. After all, a well compensated and respected employee is a happy employee!
4. Reevaluate salaries regularly
If your employees do not take the initiative to do so themselves (which we encourage them to do), take the initiative yourself! Nothing says you care about your employees and appreciate their hard work than recognizing when they deserve a raise. This can show that you are willing to invest in keeping them in the company. It can also show that you value their time and efforts, and that their hard work does not go unnoticed.
These are just a few of our favorite tips, but there are so many more things you can do to help decrease the gender gap. How are you as an employee or employer working to remove unfair wage discrepancies in your organization? What can others do to improve their workplace, too? Let’s keep the conversation going.