It's a situation that's far too common today.

Jessica, a female employee with impeccable skills and a great track record, is hired by the company of her dreams. She loves her new job, and puts her heart into it.

But there's one factor that taints the whole experience:

Jessica earns considerably less than her male counterparts, despite the fact that she's getting better results.

And that's just not right.

In case you were unaware, today happens to be "Equal Pay Day". Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996, "as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages." The date, April 12, was originally chosen to symbolize how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

The good news? Some companies have finally started to do something about it. It appears that Facebook and Microsoft are two such companies.

Just in time for this year's Equal Pay Day, Facebook's Head of HR, Lori Goler, announced on Facebook (where else), that the company has managed to eliminate the gender pay gap:

 

 

Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Microsoft made a similar announcement via the official company blog.

Hogan reaffirmed the company's "deep commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce." According to the data shared, "for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the U.S. earn 99.8 cents at the same job title and level."  

According to Hogan, the announcement is another step forward in Microsoft's path toward greater diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity.

In a world where women have experienced discrimination and mistreatment throughout history, Microsoft and Facebook's announcements are a breath of fresh air.

The Takeaways for Your Business

Men and women bring different perspectives to the workplace, and that's a good thing. Tapping into that diversity can strengthen your company.

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you have control over how much you compensate your employees. Employers value skills, experience, and other intangibles differently.

But you need to ask yourself:

  • Am I paying male and female employees the same wage for the same job?
  • If not, how can I make adjustments?
  • Are there other areas where I treat my people unfairly, based on gender, race, or ethnicity?

For the last question, asking yourself isn't enough. You need to ask others whom you trust, who aren't afraid to tell you the whole truth.

In some cases, it may be best to ask your employees themselves.

By taking this issue seriously, you won't unnecessarily limit yourself or your company. Because it's not about hiring the best man--or woman--for the job.

It's about finding the best candidate.

[UPDATE: Some readers have requested to see some of the data that's out there. Fellow Inc. writer Christine Lagorio-Chafkin shares an interesting study by Hired, a company that helps match up knowledge workers with companies looking to hire. 

And here is more detailed data provided by the U.S. census bureau, focusing on the U.S. labor force and divided by occupation.]