On April 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7). If it becomes law, this legislation will require employers to prove that pay disparities between men and women are job-related. It would also prohibit employers from screening job applicants based on their salary history or asking about their previous salary during the hiring process. Additionally, it would prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay with other employees.
Passing in the House is an important first step to narrow the wage gap nationally. In California, where Connect to HR is located, the state passed two measures that strengthen California’s commitment to achieving gender pay equity. When California passed the Equal Pay Act in 1949, it was considered a pioneering piece of legislation meant to address pay inequity. A few years ago, the state passed The California Fair Pay Act which went into effect on January 1, 2016. The purpose of this law was to help eliminate the longstanding loopholes around pay equity and move toward eliminating the gender wage gap.
Although at both the state and Federal level there is current or pending legislation to create more pay equity, employers do not need to wait any longer before taking action to support female employees.
Here are some things you can do:
- Implement parent-friendly policies with access to paid sick days and paid family leave that go above and beyond what the state mandates. Often women are punished for taking time off to care for their child or family members.
- Consider job applicants’ experience and value to the organization when setting compensation rather than basing it on salary history. In California, salary can’t be your only basis for making hiring decisions.
- Eliminate the employment gap penalty that often results in women being paid less than their worth. Take into account and give credit to non-professional experiences that an applicant has that can translate into the workforce, e.g., running volunteer events, holding leadership roles on the PTA, budgeting, etc.
- Initiate an annual compensation review and make adjustments to achieve pay equity.
- Promote more women to leadership positions.
Women: you can also help yourself by being more vocal about the value you provide and by advocating with your employer for equal pay. I heard a really good example of this recently during a forum I participated in on professional women returning to work.
The closing speaker, Raylene Nisbet, told us how she returned to the workforce after being out of it for more than 10 years. Prior to her interview, she did some research on the salary range of the job she was applying for. She got the job, but at a salary she knew was in the mid to lower range of the scale for that job. She accepted that salary because it offered her an entry back into the workforce. She justified it based on her employment gap. This is a typical situation for women who have been out of the workforce.
After only a few months on the job, Raylene had already demonstrated her value by her personal results and the results of other team members, whom she was coaching and mentoring. She went back to her boss – with data – and asked for and received an increase in pay to where she should have been in the first place!
- Do your research – know what the job should pay
- Recognize and articulate your value
- Keep track of your accomplishments
- Consider hiring a coach, finding a mentor or sponsor for support
- Prepare your case and have the conversation!
If you would like to learn more about this very important topic, plan to join me at a legal seminar where we will discuss pay equity from both a legal and HR perspective. The law firm of McManis Faulkner will host the seminar on May 19, 2021. I will be co-presenting with my colleague, Michael Warren, who leads the firm’s labor and employment litigation and compliance practice.
Additional information and how to register for the seminar will be announced soon. In the meantime, please save the date.