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End The Wage Gap

Want To End The Wage Gap? You Need To Do These 5 Things

The cat’s out of the bag: it’s 2016 and there’s still a wage gap between the genders. A recent survey from Glassdoor found that before adjusting for factors like age and occupation, women on average only make 75.9 cents for every dollar a man makes.

When you account for employees’ industries, education level, etc., men still make 5.4 percent more than their female equals. That means it’s not just outright bias that is leading women to make less money — at least not completely. But it does means there are a variety of factors causing the wage gap.

With so many pieces to the puzzle, many people are confused about where to start to create more gender equality. Why not begin with the hiring process? How an employee becomes part of an organization and the salary they are given can make a big difference in wage equality.

Here are five ways to fix the wage gap with your hiring process:

1. Have diverse hiring teams

The Glassdoor survey found that 54 percent of the wage gap is caused by industry and occupation sorting. Basically, that means as a society we tend to encourage women to pursue lower paying degrees and professions. We give little girls dolls and tell them what great teachers they’ll be when we see they’ve set up a classroom for their Barbies. On the other hand, we give boys toy rockets and tell them they’re budding rocket scientists.

So it’s no surprise, once they grow up, women are more likely to go into fields like education or caregiving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women make up 83.8 percent of social workers, 94.5 percent of administrative assistants, and 96.8 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers. Women only make up 37.9 percent of surgeons and doctors, 27.9 percent of chief executives, and 15.1 percent of architects and engineers.

The fact that kindergarten teachers make nothing close to what a CEO makes is the biggest contributor to the unadjusted wage gap.

Luckily, there has been a movement lately to encourage young girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects as a way to get more gender equality in higher paying fields. The next step is to get them actual jobs in those industries.

By having more women on hiring teams, female job seekers will see it is possible to succeed in the company and even become a respected decision maker in their department. It also means there’s a decision-maker who’s incredibly familiar with what a qualified female candidate looks like for the position. There’s less of a chance of gender bias, intentional or not, from affecting whether or not a woman has access to the position she’s earned through years of studying and hard work.

2. Incorporate video interviews

Women’s responsibilities to the family can make it difficult for them to be successful professionally. A 2015 study from the Pew Research Center found 23 percent of both men and women believe having to devote substantial time to a family is one of the reasons women have been held back in business.

But family obligations not only impede women trying to work up the corporate ladder, but also makes it more difficult to go after better, higher paying opportunities. Whether a woman is trying to re-enter the workforce after having a child, or is a single mother who feels like her company isn’t paying her fairly, it’s not easy to add the time commitment of an interview process into the mix.

When a woman has to care and provide for children, the jobs she can apply for are limited. She can’t just drop everything to fly across the country for a job interview. That makes it more difficult to leave a low-paying job or one with no future.

Using video interviews as part of your hiring process allows women to go after more opportunities that could better their lives, without having to squeeze multiple interviews into a hectic schedule. Video technology allows female candidates to complete a job interview whenever and wherever is convenient for them.

3. Be transparent about salaries

There’s a lot of confusion about what a fair salary actually looks like. For example, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 35 percent of employees who are paid above market value for their position think their salary is below a fair level. On the other end of the spectrum, 14 percent of people being underpaid think they receive market value pay.

For women, there’s even less clarity about what a good salary looks like. A recent study from found that on average women set their expected salary $14,000 lower than men do.

So, if no one really knows what a fair salary is, how do we ensure women receive the pay they deserve? The answer is salary transparency.

Convention tells us what we make is private information. It’s not something we’re supposed to discuss openly. But if we’re going to end the wage gap, it’s a conversation we have to start.

Being more transparent about what we pay employees and why is the only way to ensure everyone is being paid equally. During your hiring process, be specific about how salary level is determined by sharing your criteria in your job descriptions. Be clear how much you value different skills and years of expertise. That way, during your hiring process, everyone is on the same page about salary expectations.

You might be surprised what you discover by being more transparent about your pay. While you may think there’s no wage gap in your company, you won’t know for sure until you compare what everyone is really making. You might find that, while your base salaries are equal for different employees in the same role, you’re giving bonuses in a way that is overlooking high-performing talent.

4. Encourage salary negotiations

Salary negotiations are a logical way for women to begin to close the gender gap. The problem is many employees, male and female, either don’t know how to ask for higher pay or are scared to. A 2015 NerdWallet survey found that when it came to their first job offer, 62 percent of new graduates did not attempt to negotiate their salary.

For women who did negotiate, 42 percent said the situation made them feel anxious — most likely because they were worried that they’d be punished for asking for more money. Put job seekers of both genders at ease by letting them know you not only expect candidates to discuss their pay, but encourage them to.

When you present them with an offer ask them what parts they feel are fair and which ones they’d like to be improved. Have a conversation about what is important to them and why they feel they’re worth the extra money. Talk about what options are available to enhance the offer, like additional help with health insurance or more vacation days, if a larger base salary isn’t possible.

Being the one to initiate salary negotiations will not only make candidates more comfortable in the situation, but also show them your dedication to making sure they are compensated fairly.

5. Include career paths

An interesting finding from the aforementioned Glassdoor study is that the wage gap is not steady throughout the course of an employee’s life. There’s almost no wage inequality among young professionals. Just a 2.2 percent difference exists between what men and women under the age of 24 make. However, by age 55, the gap has grown to 10.5 percent adjusted wage gap.

This could be due to several factors. On the one hand, having more equality among younger employees might mean women who are now entering the job market are facing less bias. While that suggests great progress in eliminating the wage gap, there’s a more likely explanation.

Over the course of the livetime, the factors creating the salary inequality compound making it harder and harder for a woman’s pay to keep up with a man’s. The fields women are funneled into don’t always have as much room for growth and advancement, so compared to their male peers, salary increases are minimal. Taking time off from work to raise children can also mean being passed over for promotions. Given these factors, by the time women are nearing retirement, their income is significantly lower than their male counterparts.

Employers can help counteract this by having clear career paths in place for all employees. Begin showing women they have a chance to advance during the hiring process by letting them know the options available to them, as well as the steps they can take to prepare for each phase of their career.

Also, be aware of biases that keep women from developing their careers. The aforementioned Pew Research Center found the number one reason both men and women feel there aren’t more women in top positions is that they are held to higher standards. That means when considered for promotions, raises, or performance reviews in general, they are judged more harshly than men.

In many cases, this might not be a conscious decision, but it does happen. The best thing you can do is to educate leaders in your organization about possible biases that might be in play. Make sure there is an established rubric for determining who deserves and receives promotions within the company.

We’ve come a long way in closing the gender gap for good. But there’s still more work to be done. That means considering how each aspect of your business might be making the inequality better as well as where there are opportunities to correct the issue. Since the hiring process is the foundation for each employee’s experience with your company, it’s a great place to start.

What are some other ways the hiring process can be used to end the wage gap? Share in the comments below!

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).