Today is Equal Pay Day in the U.S. It's the day that signifies how far into 2019 American women need to work to earn the amount men did for the same job in 2018. Let that sink in for a moment. Women have to work an additional three months to earn the same amount of money men are paid. Layer on the pink tax women pay for many products, and their pocketbooks get hit particularly hard.
As we reflect on the unjustness of the gender wage gap, it is important to note that this is the average of all women's salaries across the board. Break out the data among different ethnic groups and the numbers are even bleaker. Women on average earn 80 cents on the dollar compared with their White, non-Hispanic male counterparts. But Black, Native American, and Latina women earn 61, 57, and 53 cents respectively for every dollar a White male makes.
This isn't a problem just in the U.S. Worldwide, women are paid 23 percent less than men. No matter how you cut it, there is work to do.
How the gender wage gap negatively impacts your business.
Business is about belonging. And it is difficult to feel like you belong somewhere when your financial compensation is less than what others are paid for the same role. That knowledge breeds resentment. And that resentment impacts how your team shows up.
To build and grow a thriving business, you need a high-performing team that is committed to delivering remarkable experiences that make your customers feel like they belong. And it will be difficult for your team to make your customers to feel like they belong with you if they don't feel like they belong themselves.
Data from Gallup shows that 68 percent of workers are disengaged. I'm convinced that dissatisfaction with compensation is one of the reasons why.
How to get started closing the gender wage gap.
Women (and their families) around the world would rejoice if suddenly their salaries were normalized to those of men. While this is a very tangible action you could take, it is important not to overlook the factors that contribute to the wage gap existing in the first place.
It isn't enough to fix only the end result. You have to work to address the root causes--otherwise you'll find yourself in a similar position over time.
Start by doing your research. Take some time to run your numbers to evaluate where your company stands on gender equality with regard to pay. Then dig deeper to understand why that exists.
Is it because women don't negotiate their salaries as much when starting their career with your company? If that is the case, consider what mechanisms you can put in place to minimize those gaps. That may mean getting rid of the practice of basing employee's salary for new positions on what they currently earn.
Is it because hiring managers or human resources teams subconsciously feel that men should earn more? Early on in my corporate career, I remember hearing a senior leader talking about giving a promotion to one of my male colleagues because "he had a family to support." I clearly remember thinking that my career progression and corresponding salary were being penalized because I was a single woman without a family "depending on me" to provide.
If this is the case, consider administering unconscious bias training that digs into traditional gender roles, and how perceptions impact decisions that are made at work.
Perhaps one of the reasons is that childcare is an issue, which limits the amount of time women can stay in the office beyond the standard workday. If so, consider how your company culture contributes to the feeling that rewards face time and time spent physically at work, versus overall degree of impact.
You won't know what the contributing factors are that cause the wage gap at your own company until you go on a mission to discover them.
Only then will you be equipped to create an environment where everyone not only feels like they belong, but their pay reinforces that they do.