An ideal world was in mind when the Equal Pay Act was established, making it illegal for any organization to pay employees who perform the same work different pay rates based on gender.
This Act states that people who work under similar conditions, bringing in the same skills and efforts, should be paid the same salary, whether male or female. It also states that businesses aren’t allowed to make changes or corrections by reducing unreasonably high salaries just to match those who have been unfairly paid low wages.
Despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act has been around since 1963, pay discrimination in the workplace still exists. It has been commonplace for women to earn less than their male counterparts as far back as we can remember, and this has taken a toll on many female workers. It doesn’t help that there are even wider disparities among minorities and the subpopulation.
This Act applies to just about everybody from executives, and administrative employees, to professional employees and external salespersons that have some exemptions such as overtime.
As A Business, How Do You Ensure Equal Pay?
- The first step is to be fully aware of the requirements established by federal and state laws. This will give you more information on what you need to do and what you need to avoid when it comes to hiring and pay practices. For instance, California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii have laws prohibiting the practice of employers asking candidates about their salary history.
- Though it’s easier to rely on senior leadership to ensure the culture in the organization is against pay discrimination, the effort of just one employee who manages to speak up can go a long way. The whole organization needs to be aware of this potential or existing issue and get on board to tackle it.
Often, pay discrimination happens when a company isn’t familiar with the Equal Pay Act. Once alerted, the business will need to implement preventive measures to stop this from happening.
When There’s An Equal Pay Issue Within Your Business – How Do You Fix It?
Start by running a full report on all salaries and positions within the company. Group jobs that are the same or similar and then compare employee salaries within the set.
Where do you see discrepancies? Do you see where females are paid lesser than males in these job groups? Are there legitimate causes for this such as more years of experience or a higher level of education, etc.?
Once you have a list of positions and salaries in question, the next step is to meet with C-suite executives and senior leaders from human resources, compliance, legal and administration.
During the meeting, make sure to address the following:
- Review the salary discrepancies.
- Mention the challenges facing the businesses and employees.
- Shift gears into allowing employees to voice their observations on pay discrimination, fears and ideas on improvement.
- Create immediate action steps for a more gender respectful workplace and eliminate any pay discrimination or inequity traces. Call it the ‘Equity Action Plan’ to make it official.