A year into her first tech job, Jessica Kirkpatrick, a data scientist at Hired, found out two men on her team were being paid $10,000 more than her. Even after receiving the same initial salary offer and attempting similar negotiations, her male co-workers secured a higher base salary.

"My story is frustrating and disheartening, but it's far from uncommon," said Kirkpatrick.

Unfortunately, due to a recent court decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, employers can use employees' former pay to influence their salary offer. For females like Kirkpatrick, who were already making unfair wages, this is a step in the wrong direction.

Because employers can perpetuate wage discrepancies simply because they already exist, the new ruling makes it even harder for women to close the wage gap. However, this doesn't mean employers should continue offering women less money. Instead, it should inspire us to fight even harder to gain equal pay for employees everywhere.

Here are just a few reasons why you should begin a cycle of equal pay:

Attract better talent

Gaining a poor reputation from unequal pay will spread quickly to job candidates. The best employees know what they're worth, and if they're already unsure whether you'll pay them fairly, they won't want to work for your organization.

Matthew Steinberg, an employment lawyer and creator and host of the WorkedUp podcast, understands the impact a company's reputation can have on new talent.

"Businesses depend upon a constant flow of new blood and new ideas," Steinberg said. "When a business has a reputation for transparency and equal pay, it is easier to compete for the high-quality talent it needs to be successful."

Have pay policies in place you wouldn't be afraid to share with the public or your most talented candidates. Share each step of your company's equal pay process during onboarding with a tool like Paycor or ADP to show candidates their pay and opportunities to grow are equal.

Better office morale

Doubt leads to gossip and rumors -- both of which can hurt office morale. Discrepancies in employees' pay will inevitably result in higher employee turnover. But, if you continue ignoring the situation, it can get a lot worse.

"It's never a good thing if employees are constantly speculating about the salary of the co-worker in the next cubicle," said Teresa Hudson, assistant general counsel and HR consultant for Engage PEO. "If you find out a person of the opposite sex sitting next to you -- doing basically the same job -- is paid more, the work environment becomes toxic very quickly."

This toxicity results in lowered productivity, engagement, and loyalty. Beth Zoller, an attorney and legal editor with XpertHR, believes fair treatment is key for retaining successful employees.

"If employees feel they are being treated fairly and valued for their contribution to the organization, this is likely to lead to improved employee engagement, increased productivity and morale, and reduced absenteeism," Zoller shared.

Focus on increasing office morale to help your team grow to their full working potential. Post yearly salaries to show employees what their co-workers are making and that you have a status of equal pay. While this may make you and employees feel vulnerable, it creates an openness that will stop speculation and rumors.

Higher employee retention

Having equal pay standards helps build and maintain trust with employees. That trust improves employee loyalty, making them want to stay with the company longer.

"When you prioritize wage transparency and equality, you are also building trust with your employees. Trust leads to loyalty, and there is nothing more valuable to a company than engaged, productive, loyal team members," said Amanda Greenberg, CEO of Baloonr.

Of course, employee retention isn't only dependent on employers.

Greenberg added, "Transparency also promotes trust between employees, which creates a stronger community that is working together toward the same goals."

Let your team know their success and future at the company is important to you by providing transparent, equal salaries -- no matter their age or gender.

Remaining open about salaries will encourage your team to also express their concerns or questions. Develop confident and successful employees by keeping the salary conversation open and flowing.

Published on: May 25, 2017