As an employer, there may be more you can do to support equal pay for equal work. Perhaps it’s time to create a workplace policy that bans recruiters or hiring managers from asking job candidates – specifically women and minorities – about their salary history.
Many times, a job candidate’s salary is based on the individual’s previous pay. Consider a woman who’s well qualified for a job, someone who sails through the interview process and possesses the skills and experiences needed to perform the position’s responsibilities.
So far, so good. But then she’s asked to produce her salary history. That’s when problems can start. She may point to a long trail of lower paying salaries despite her work accomplishments. In reality, the recruiter should offer her a salary that reflects the job’s worth, that’s commensurate with her competencies and experiences, and not based on her previous pay. But that doesn’t always happen.
That’s among the reasons why Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill last year requiring equal pay for equal work. It also banned employers in the state from asking job candidates for their salary history, making the Commonwealth, “the first state in the nation to enact such a law,” according to PayScale, an online salary, benefits and compensation information company.
Gov. Baker may have launched a national trend. In Jan 2017, according to Talent Daily, Philadelphia became the first U.S. city to impose a salary history ban despite opposition from local employers like Comcast, a giant in the cable industry that threatened legal action. Likewise, NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo followed suit. Even House Democrats proposed a federal ban last Sept. However, it fell flat and is likely to remain on life support during President Trump’s administration.
Still, you don’t need to sit on the sidelines. There are some things you can do to start pushing double standards involving pay practices out your front door.
Start the process by becoming better informed about the issue. PayScale mentions five factors that affect gender wage gap:
- Job Type: Jobs and industries with higher pay are often dominated by men.
- Job Level: The gender pay gap increases as you climb the corporate ladder.
- Compensable Factors: In order to identify pay inequity between similarly qualified men and women, control for factors like experience, education, hours worked, and location.
- Marriage and Family: Even though more men say they prioritize family over work more often, married working mothers have the highest pay gap compared to married working fathers.
The last one is unconscious bias, which has been referred to as hidden discrimination or social stereotypes about gender. They are subtle. They are harmful. They are in every industry. Most people don’t even realize they possess these beliefs or worse, actually apply them to job candidates.
As recruiters, you can lead the way. Educate your peers about problems created by salary questions. Work with human resources to draft a policy. Solicit buy-in from hiring managers based on how this practice can negatively impact your corporate brand and ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
The market needs to dictate salary, not someone’s gender or race. While this may be a radical departure from how pay decisions have been made in the past, how many more years or decades do women or people of color have to wait for their fair share?