Gustavo Linares
Expert Contributor

How HR Can Help Eliminate the Gender Gap in Pay

By Gustavo Linares | Wed, 03/24/2021 - 09:08

One year ago, Mexicans all over the country experienced something that has never before happened in the nation’s history. On March 9, women from all around the country held a peaceful national strike that sought to prove the crucial contributions of the female population in the social, economic, and political spheres in Mexico, as well as demand solutions to the wave of femicides, harassment, inequalities, and abuse against women in private and public spaces throughout the country. Millions of women decided not to go to work, regardless of their profession, for one day, creating a substantial economic impact on many businesses and the country's GDP. 

Over MX$200 million was lost on that day, which opened the eyes of many politicians, CEOs, and business owners nationwide. Women are essential to any country's economy. Even if neither males nor females created an impact on the economy, we all deserve to be treated as equal; we all have the same human rights.

As an HR specialist, I would like to emphasize equal pay in this month's article. It’s not a secret that the perceived notion that men should earn more than women because they are the “bread winners” and women can depend on their husband’s salary is an unfortunate reality that many people in the world actually believe. According to the International Labor Organization, women earn between 50 percent and 96 percent of men's wages, depending on the country. This is outrageous. I cannot believe that in the 21st century, women must struggle to get equal pay. However, what can we as CEOs, HR directors, HR managers, and business owners do to tackle this issue? We can all make a difference; we do not have to wait for government regulations to be implemented. We can start creating internal policies and procedures in the HR department to help prevent any salary gap within your company or organization.

Start by setting base compensation for the job, not the gender that is applying. If there are no salary ranges established in your company, that is one of the first steps you need to take to ensure equal pay for all staff members. Set a salary range for the position and stick to it. This will not only make your life easier but will level the playing field both on age and gender. Most startups and small businesses do not have salary bands; however, you can still research the salaries of all your staff members and analyze the gap. Once you get the results, bring this to the attention of the CEO or any superior and work on a plan to stabilize all the salaries accordingly and fairly.

A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with another HR director and he mentioned that men are better at negotiating, especially in regard to salaries. My thoughts? Stereotyping and thinking that it makes it OK to pay men more just because women do not negotiate salaries in the recruitment process is not an excuse to discriminate. What we must do in the HR department is to use technology to our advantage and track all of the salaries being paid, including bonuses and other benefits and compensations. Once all the HR analytics are in place, you can determine whether or not women are being underpaid for the same role as men and do something about it.

Another strategy to reduce this gap is to fully train all the hiring managers. Many of them may not know the current market and what their competitors are offering to potential candidates. Work on a plan to match pay directly to market value, which will leave minimal space for negotiation and will help close unfair pay gaps. Provide diversity and inclusion training to hiring managers to make them fully aware that women can do the same job as men and that being on maternity leave is not a disability.

Regarding fair bonuses and pay increases, this could be solved quickly. Create a Management Committee, which should have the representation of both males and females, where you can all discuss and defend salary increases and bonuses for staff members. This will not only make it transparent and ethical, but it will also help reduce favoritism and help fix the gender pay gap. I can go on with different ideas that can be implemented by the HR department to help eradicate gender pay gaps. The real question here is, how many people want to start change and help make a difference within your own organization or company.

There are many ways that we as citizens, HR professionals, and CEOs can help eradicate gender pay gaps. We should not wait for the rest of the world and politicians do something about it. We can start by doing it within our own companies and businesses. The path to pay equity involves all of us: HR departments, hiring managers, CEOs, and organizations correcting their systems and processes.

Photo by:   Gustavo Linares