Equal Pay...What's Up in Your Company?

April 9, 2013 is Equal Pay Day so we thought we'd share information that might spark a conversation in your company.

Last year, through the work of an amazing group of women and the participation of key HR professionals, Vision 2020 RI surveyed many of Rhode Island's largest employers about their gender equity practices.  Here's what we discovered about equal pay.

What Vision 2020 Asked

1.     Does your Human Resource function conduct wage equity audits that look for inequities in compensation between men and women at the same level/position?
  • Yes, annually.
  • Yes, every other year.
  • Yes, less often than every other year.
  • Yes, we conducted a one-time baseline.
  • We don't do wage equity audits at this time.

2.     Without divulging any confidential information, please indicate the results of your audits.
  • We have not done wage equity audits.
  • We have frequently made adjustments to restore wage equity.
  • We have occasionally made adjustments to restore wage equity.
  • We have rarely made adjustments to restore wage equity.
  • We have never found inequities and therefore have not made adjustments.

Why Vision 2020 Asked

While the size of the wage gap has diminished over the past 4 decades, the gap persists across for and non-profit sectors. The WAGE Project estimates that over the course of her life a high school graduate will lose $700,000 in earnings, a college graduate $1.2 million and a woman with a graduate degree nearly $2 million.

The implications for women and their families are significant. Four out of ten women are equal or main breadwinners for their families. These lost earnings impacts the well-being of not only the women, but entire families. And because future security in the form of pensions or other retirement vehicles depends on compensation, the wage gap threatens women’s security in old age.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that at the current slow rate of closure, it will take nearly another 50 years (estimate is 2056) for women to reach pay equity.

What Vision 2020 Learned

Organizations are aware of and actively work to diminish the wage gap. Seventy percent of for-profit respondents of our survey have conducted such a study and 31% conduct them annually.  Of the non-profit respondents 88% have conducted such studies with 28% conducting them annually or every other year.

There is much controversy about whether the wage gap is fact or fiction. Our data suggests that organizations recognize it as fact. Thirty nine percent (39%) of for-profit respondents and 50% of non-profit respondents have found and corrected inequities. Only 30% have never or rarely found inequities. This number is higher among non-profit organizations where 50% have made adjustments on occasion.

Recommendations for Action

Since the 1970s, organizations have conducted analyses of compensation to determine pay equity for women and men performing in the same positions (with similar tenure and performance).  Today’s sophisticated Human Resource information systems make it easier than ever to conduct such wage equity audits.  Making these audits a regular part of HR’s compensation analysis cycle would ensure that the wage gap in for-profit and nonprofit organizations is eliminated well before 2056.
 What's up with wage equity audits in your organization?

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono, CEO and Founder Leading Women
Author of No Ceiling, No Walls and Make the Most of Mentoring. Underway is her new book, Network! What corporate women need to know about strategic relationships and success
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