5 Initiatives to Close the Gender Gap, Boost Revenue

In this guest column, Amanda Wright of the web site Better Buys, details five tactics that, while simple, can go a long way toward establishing gender equality in your company.

Today, many people believe the gender gap is shrinking due to the number of companies touting their progressive efforts toward diversity.

But the reality is that positive progress has stalled since 2015, limiting the female’s potential in the workplace. Women still make only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, and only 38 percent of managerial positions are held by women. It’s almost unsurprising, then, that some projections predict the gender gap to persist until 2070—that is unless employers do more.

Closing the gender gap for the sake of workplace equality is a priority, but it’s also in your company’s best interest. MIT economist Sara Ellison says a mixed workforce provides a “more diverse set of skills” and fosters a “greater spread of experience.” Shifting to an evenly split office can boost revenue by 41 percent, according to McKinsey, improving your company’s bottom line.

If your office has an imbalanced workforce, you might inadvertently be limiting your staff’s professional potential. Here are some ways a Human Resources Management System can help you solve workplace gender disparities without interrupting your own day-to-day responsibilities.

1. Analyze Employee Salaries on a Regular Basis

One of the biggest indicators of a gender gap is an unexplained discrepancy between the paychecks of employees with nearly identical responsibilities—otherwise known as the “pay gap.” But it’s crucial to distinguish between employees who hold the same title and those who do the same work. For instance, office managers Tina and Mike may share the same position, but Tina may have more experience, justifying a pay difference.  

You might be concerned that routine salary checks will create extra administrative work for HR. Fortunately, an HRMS automates much of the process. Its built-in payroll modules track salary fluctuations over the course of an employee’s term at the company.

The software even allows you to focus on specific parameters. In this case, you might be interested in comparing salaries based on gender, job position and history. Doing so will highlight any discrepancies, saving you the trouble of digging through years’ worth of dusty records.

2. Compare Yourself to Other Organizations

Salary bench-marking is a process used to determine the market rate—or a position’s value in the job market—for each role in your organization. This involves looking at positions from other organizations with similar job descriptions, then comparing salaries while accounting for external influences like education and experience requirements.

If you consistently offer less than your competitors, employees are likely to negotiate for higher salaries—if they don’t just up and leave. But according to a Harvard experiment, men are significantly more likely to engage in salary negotiations. Therefore, a company that skimps on its salaries may be self-perpetuating a cycle that generates a pay gap.    

While free web sites exist for comparing salaries, they’re not always reliable. On the other hand, some HRMS solutions that specialize in compensation management only use data compiled by professionals. Sizing up your salary numbers ensures that your company pays everyone fairly by cancelling out the urge to negotiate.  

3. Open Yourself Up to Salary Negotiations

While you can reduce the likelihood of salary negotiations by offering competitive pay, doing so won’t change the fact that men are more inclined to negotiate. Is it just inevitable that some men at your company will end up earning more simply because they ask more often?

According to the same Harvard experiment: No. Gender differences in negotiation disappear almost entirely when employers explicitly mention that wages are negotiable.

If an HRMS salary analysis finds that your company has pay discrepancies for different genders, explicitly state that salaries are negotiable. This can eliminate any salary gaps at your organization caused by a lack of female-initiated negotiations.

4. Strive for Pay Transparency

Transparency is a strong weapon against the gender gap. When employers aren’t upfront about compensation, candidates may be unhappy with the salary they’re offered.

If an HRMS salary report reveals that your company offers higher starting salaries to men, include a salary range in your job listings. Doing so will keep your hiring team from offering different salary amounts based on gender. Some female candidates are wary of the hiring process since existing data says they’ll be paid less. Pay transparency can help with this.    

5. Examine Promotion Patterns

The “position gap,” or gender disparity in promotions, is also an issue for many companies. Position gaps exist even in companies without pay discrepancies.

An HRMS will help you see an employee’s progress and promotions. If you track the progression of employees who were hired around the same time, certain gender-based trends may pop up.

Unfair promotion patterns can indicate bias within upper management. Many companies have this problem, which is why a handful of HRMS solutions have implemented diversity training features. These features identify and resolve implicit gender biases. Building a more open-minded team will help level the playing field for qualified women at your company.

Diversity Doesn’t Equal Inclusion

Bridging the gender gap in the workplace is an impressive feat, but an even greater challenge is creating a workplace without any gender-based discrimination or microaggressions.

Unfortunately, just because you make the effort to include women in the workplace doesn’t mean your employees will. Male workers who are accustomed to being at the top may be hostile toward female-focused equality efforts.

While the big picture of the pay and position gap is significant, workplace culture is equally important. It’s not enough to just have a diverse workplace—that workforce must also accept the people who make it diverse. Otherwise, your company might end up with a nasty harassment or discrimination lawsuit.

Moving forward, it’s key to foster an environment that promotes equality in all areas.

Amanda Wright is a content editor for Better Buys, a web site that helps companies find and select the right software solution. She covers a variety of industries including HR, Business Intelligence and ERP. This guest column adheres to our editorial guidelines but does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors.

Image: iStock

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