How to make equal pay a reality

Gianna Driver, Chief Human Resources Officer at Exabeam discusses why there has been little progress on closing the gender pay gap & how we can change that

When the 20th of November came around last year, it marked the day when women effectively stop earning due to the pay gap. That we still have such a stark gender pay disparity in 2023 is stunning given the attention this subject receives. However, it is one thing to hold a symbolic day underlining the issue, but the real question is: what can we do about it in practical terms? Here are a few simple suggestions that can be effective in the workplace.

Sharing your experience

The first step is to identify the obstacles that are impeding progress and share these experiences to raise awareness. One way women can do this is to ensure their voices are heard within the workplace and that feedback is shared directly with leaders who are in a position to offer more transparency, impact decisions, and make positive, more equitable changes to pay practices. Do you understand how merit increases are done? Are promotions viewed through the lens of gender equity? If not, bring these concerns to leadership. Help amplify the voices of others, take action on social media platforms, and engage in conversations to bring more awareness about the importance of fair and equitable pay. By bringing the right people together who can influence change and share the experiences of women, you are more likely to build empathy and inspire action toward initiatives that can help level the playing field.

Demand pay transparency

Calling out the gender gap means pay transparency is essential. The EU Directive on Equal Pay and Pay Transparency, published on 21st December 2022, is a great example of how the government can lead in making such transparency a legal obligation. Indeed, countries such as Norway make all salaries publicly available. When you have a clear idea of what others are earning, including people at a similar level of responsibility and qualifications, you can negotiate fairness in your own position more effectively.

However, it remains a contentious subject: many people are uncomfortable discussing money in any form, least of all their salary, so it can be an uphill struggle to get people on board with the notion of self-advocacy when it comes to remuneration. Nevertheless, pay transparency moves us along the continuum of truly equitable treatment. 

Hold senior leaders accountable

Visibility helps us hold our leaders and organisations accountable and helps us measure progress. Accountability is important because with accountability comes ownership, and ownership begets action. How do we hold leaders accountable? Ask for more visibility about what is discussed in senior-level meetings about pay transparency and equitable pay practices; encourage the creation of a committee or group dedicated to DEI and/or pay equity; share concerns openly when targets are not reached and have a solution-oriented mindset when making suggestions. By holding those in charge accountable and engaging in active dialogue, we can ensure these important issues receive the attention they deserve and generate actionable steps that advance pay equity. 

Encourage regular internal reviews

Organisations should hold regular reviews of their pay and total rewards practices, while paying specific attention to reviewing data through the lens of DEI, thus ensuring there aren’t disparate treatment practices accidentally occurring between groups of individuals. That way, we can ensure that everybody, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race, is being fairly remunerated. It’s easy to backslide on pay promises, so regular, transparent reviews are the best way to ensure the issue always remains in focus and is addressed as disparities arise.

These are just a handful of ideas that might help begin the conversation in the workplace. As we dive into 2023, now is the time to look ahead and work hard to ensure that come November 2023, we won’t have to mark another Equal Pay Day. A stretch aim, perhaps, but it is important to aim high and remember that, when it comes to pay, you’re worth it.


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