Addressing the Gender Pay Gap

Today, women in the workforce are as common as men.  However, even though a woman may perform the same job as a man, she is often paid less simply because of her gender.  The gender pay gap is real – and on average a woman earns 20% less than her male counterpart on an annual basis. One startling fact is that the gender pay gap between men an women in California is approximately $79 billion per year.

Employers may pay women less for a variety of reasons. And although women tend to ask for lower salaries than men, employers also offer lower salaries to women for the same role, compared to men. The Equal Pay Act (EPA) was created in 1963 to ensure that a person be paid fairly and appropriately for their designated job title, regardless of gender. Nonetheless, women are still being paid significantly lower than men over 50 years later.

Below are some tips to ensure equal pay amongst employees regardless of their sex:

1.  Create a Policy Ensuring Equal Pay – In order to guarantee equal pay amongst employees, employers should create and enforce a policy prohibiting compensation/wage discrimination based on an employee’s gender.

2.  Make Decisions Based on Performance – Employers should make all employment decisions regarding promotions, raises, bonuses, etc., based on concrete factors such as skills, accomplishments and performance rather than an employee’s gender.

3.  Be Aware of State and Local Laws Prohibiting Wage Discrimination – Employers should familiarize themselves with the laws of their state to avoid any legal issues, in addition to the ethical implications of such discrimination.

4.  Do Not Prohibit Employees from Discussing Wages – Employers should not prohibit employees from discussing wage information amongst themselves. Each employee should be entitled to fair and equal pay and should be compensated appropriately.

5. Base current and future salaries on an employee’s experience and capabilities and not their salary history from a prior role – Massachusetts and Philadelphia already have laws to support this and in May of this year, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new law prohibiting employers from asking candidates about salary history.  More than 20 states (including California and Vermont) are considering similar legislation.

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