Analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data from 2017 show that women, as a whole, earn 81 cent for every dollar a White man earns — White women earn 77 cents, Black women 62 cents, Native women, 58 cents, and Hispanic women 53 cents. While there are a number of factors that contribute to the wage gap, such as occupational segregation, pay discrimination is a large part of the problem.
- Eliminate requests for salary history during hiring to ensure that past pay discrimination that women and people of color may have faced does not carry forward to the next job.
- Develop equitable and transparent pay structures and merit raise matrixes. Employers should review hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers. The Society for Human Resource Management’s Managing Pay Equity toolkit can provide guidance and best practices in promoting pay equity.
Representation in Leadership
Women only represent 36 percent of first or mid-level officials and managers in S&P 500 companies, 25 percent of executive and senior-level officials and managers, 20 percent of board seats, and 6 percent of CEOs. Researchers have found that companies with higher shares of women in leadership positions perform better across a range of metrics including productivity, innovation, and employee retention and satisfaction. Moreover, research has found that sexual harassment of women is more likely to occur in male-dominated workplaces; diversity throughout and at all levels of organizations has been found to be a protective factor.
- Hire and promote women, people of color, and individuals from other marginalized groups into key roles throughout an organization. Examine what roles women and people of color hold in your workplace and identify potential leaders in the pipeline. Cultivate potential leaders with specific leadership development and mentorship opportunities for women, people of color, and other marginalized workers.
- Address unconscious biases that impact culture, opportunities, and pathways for women and people of color.
- Consider how policies are harming the advancement of potential leaders and make reforms. Access to paid family leave, flexible work schedules, and teleworking allow caregivers (who are often women) to be productive at work while still fulfilling their obligations to family and loved ones.
Paid Family, Sick, and Safe Leave
An estimated 20 percent of all women workers in the United States are family caregivers. Without paid family leave, many women find themselves losing wages and jeopardizing their employment because they have to take time off to care for a loved one. Nearly half of caregivers who took time off to fulfill their responsibilities at home reported losing income. When confronted with a lack of leave policies and workplace flexibility, 52 percent of caregivers reported needing to leave the workforce entirely.
- Institute comprehensive paid family leave policies including expansive definitions of family to include close relatives and chosen family as well as a broad range of qualifying events to include gender-based violence.
- Provide for greater workplace flexibility, including flexible scheduling, teleworking options, and dependent care accounts to help with the cost of child or elder care.
Addressing Violence and Harassment
The scope of domestic and sexual violence in the U.S. is staggering, and its impact on workers, undeniable. A poll of 1,200 employed adults across the U.S. found that 44 percent of respondents experienced the impacts of domestic violence in the workplace; moreover, 21 percent, both men and women, identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence. In addition, working women experience rates of sexual harassment ranging from 25 percent to 85 percent. Violence and harassment negatively impacts the well-being and productivity of all workers. In one study, 60 percent of the domestic violence survivors surveyed reported losing their jobs, and 96 percent reported their work performance suffered because of the abuse. Those who experience sexual harassment and violence face similar consequences – 80 percent of women who have been harassed leave their jobs within two years.
- Establish prevention and response policies that address all forms of gender-based violence, regardless of whether or not it occurs within a workplace setting. Tools to create safe and equitable workplaces, including model policies, trainings, and climate surveys can be found at Workplaces Respond, www.workplacesrespond.org.
- Partner with local domestic and sexual violence service providers to develop and implement education and response programs.
Chelsea R. Willness et al., A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Workplace Sexual Harassment, 60:1 Personnel Psychol. 127 (2007). Meg A. Bond; Prevention of Sexism in Encyclopedia of Primary Prevention and Health Promotion (Thomas Gullotta & Martin Bloom eds., 2014).; Mary M. Meares et al., Employee Mistreatment and Muted Voices in the Culturally Diverse Workplace, 32 J. of Applied Comm. Res. 4 (2004).