Pushing for Equal Pay: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding the causes of the gender pay gap is the key to achieving pay equity in the future. This article will help you understand the importance of salary transparency, provide tips to negotiate equal pay properly, and ensure that your salary doesn’t reflect a pay gap.

Although the “smoking gun” of overt workplace bias was the main driver of gender pay inequity in the early 1960s, today, the main causes are subtler. The data show that outright discrimination isn’t likely the main driver of today’s overall gender pay gap. Instead, it’s mostly due to occupation and industry sorting of men and women into systematically different jobs. But even after those factors are accounted for, the remaining 5.4 percent “adjusted” gender pay gap in the U.S. is a significant workplace problem all Americans should be concerned about.

What policies can best address the remaining gender pay gap? One solution may be promoting greater pay transparency in the workplace—something new rules recently proposed by the White House aim to accomplish. Plus, other third-party research clearly shows that embracing salary transparency can help eliminate hard-to-justify gender pay gaps in the workplace. Without access to pay data for specific job titles at specific companies, it’s easy to understand how gender inequities could persist for years undetected on employer payrolls.

As America strives toward gender equality in the workplace, pay transparency can play an important role in helping traverse the last mile toward full equality in male-female earnings in the workplace.

According to the Equal Pay Today Campaign:

  • American women earn 82 cents for each dollar their male counterparts earn.
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander women earn 85 cents on the dollar.
  • African American women earn 63 cents on the dollar.
  • Native American women earn 60 cents on the dollar.  
  • Hispanic American women earn 55 cents on the dollar.

Salary transparency drives accountability.    

Sutherland-Wong captured radical transparency as a means for equity: “Our vision is for a world where transparency ensures everyone is treated and paid fairly irrespective of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or any other factor. Our vision is for a world where transparency holds companies accountable and motivates them to become better employers. Our vision is that transparency changes the world so that everyone loves their job.” In 2020, Glassdoor moved one step further in our goal of radical transparency. We revealed salary ranges for every role at our company, and we disclosed the specific salary for Glassdoor’s senior executive team. “Increasing transparency is critical for employees and job seekers to make informed career decisions and help ensure pay equity.  It is why we reaffirmed our commitment to providing greater transparency. . . We are leaning into our strengths and pushing ahead to unlock information that shines a brighter light on culture, diversity & inclusion, and our own business performance alongside compensation.” Sutherland-Wong shares.

In 2017, Glassdoor interviewed Lilly Ledbetter, an important figure to learn about during March, as a key piece of equal pay legislation was named for her. Ledbetter worked as an area manager at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama, for nearly 20 years. She was near retirement when she learned, via an anonymous tip, that she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts over the entire course of her career with Goodyear. She sued the company, and ultimately her case went to the Supreme Court.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was President Barack Obama’s first piece of legislation. Ledbetter explained to Glassdoor why equal pay is so important: “Women are still underpaid. When women get behind, it is a snowball effect because your raises are percentages of what you’re earning if your wages start low. That keeps them lower than they should. You can’t catch up. It also affects your retirement because if a company has retirement benefits, it’s based on what you’re earning your 401K or whatever the retirement plan is based on what you’re earning matched by a percentage. Of course, social security is based on what a person earns. When you’re short-changed like I was and so many other people across this nation, it’s for the rest of your life.”

How to know if you’re underpaid

Past Glassdoor research revealed that average Americans are earning as much as 13 percent less than they’re worth because they accept the first job offer presented to them without negotiating a better deal for themselves. Although nearly 1 in 3 (31%) employees accepted their salary without negotiating in their current or most recent job, new survey data shows, a slightly larger portion of women than men are accepting an initial salary offer: 33% of employed women say they accepted their salary for their most recent position without negotiating compared to 29% of employed men. A study conducted by George Mason University and Temple University found that being underpaid and failing to negotiate your salary can cost an employee $600,000 over the course of your career.

Sure, it was once considered awkward to discuss money, but whom does that benefit? It would be best if you had answers, resources, and a strategy when it comes to ensuring that you’re properly paid for the work you do. Review this guide if you’re concerned that you’re being underpaid.

Salary Ranges: Know your Worth

As you prepare for your next performance review or job interview and consider your salary range, make sure to do your research. That means looking at what other professionals who do your job earn. There are some other important factors to consider, like where you live and how many years of experience you have. Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool can help you calculate where you fall in the range.

Remember that if you were underpaid in a previous role, you don’t want to carry that deficit into your future roles. So rather than basing future salaries on past pay, get a fresh start by doing your research to learn your skills’ market value.    

Negotiating your salary can sound intimidating, but it’s an important skill to get confident talking about compensation. Do your research and practice. Also, recognize that talent is a hot commodity, and you’ve got it! Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t know what to say? Look to our salary negotiation scripts for inspiration.

Check your employer and prospective employer’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion metrics:

Glassdoor recently launched new tools to help employees and job candidates see their employers’ and prospective employers’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics. According to Glassdoor research, 76 percent of job seekers and employees identify a diverse workforce as an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. To help provide deeper insight into the diversity, equity, and inclusion at a company, Glassdoor has introduced three new product features:

Diversity & Inclusion Rating: 

Glassdoor’s newest workplace factor rating enables employees to rate how satisfied they are with diversity and inclusion at their current or former company, based on a 5-point scale. The rating appears alongside the five existing workplace factor ratings.

Employees & Job Seekers Can Now Voluntarily Share Demographic Information: 

With these demographic contributions, Glassdoor now displays company ratings, workplace factor ratings, salary reports, and more aggregate, broken out by specific groups at specific companies. This information will equip employers with further data and insights to create and sustain more equitable workplaces.

Diversity FAQ Across Companies: 

This tool provides easier access to relevant reviews about D&I at specific companies. 

“Job seekers and employees today really care about equity, and for too long they’ve lacked access to the information needed to make informed decisions about the companies that are or are not truly inclusive . . . By increasing transparency around diversity and inclusion within companies, we can help create more equitable companies and more equitable society, too.” Sutherland-Wong shares.

Encourage your company to do a pay transparency self-audit:

Encourage your employer to commit to equitable pay by conducting a self-audit and lead the effort if you’re in a position to do so. It stands to bolster the corporate brand, ensure equity, and increase retention as well. Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, explains: “According to a recent Glassdoor survey, nearly three in five employees (58%) said they would not apply to work at a company where a pay gap exists. Today, the gender pay gap is more than a social or legal issue. It’s an issue that can affect the ability of employers to attract and retain talent.All organizations can talk a good game, but which ones are stepping up to the plate to pay fairly and offer benefits that support all employees. Take a look at the benefits tab on any employer profile on Glassdoor. Please scroll down to see their values, benefits, and perks. Compare the company values to your own. Depending on your interests, ask questions like, Do they offer adequate maternity and paternity leave? What do employees say about job training or diversity initiatives? Could those professional support tools help me get promoted? 

Glassdoor provides a step-by-step guide for conducting the audit. The results that your company finds stand to be illuminating. They certainly were for Glassdoor when we did our pay check-up in 2020.

Transparency can be humbling and hard, but when employee equity is at stake, it’s worth it. Sutherland-Wong explains: “We believe in the power of transparency.  It may make us uncomfortable at times, but we can and should learn to work through that discomfort.”

Comb through available salary reports:

Check Glassdoor to figure out what the average salary for your position is in your area and read what current and former employees have been paid. For example, you can see that a Delta flight attendant can make $40,645 per year, while Southwest flight attendants report making $57,230 per year. Dig deeper to see qualifications, perks of the job, and benefits.

We’ve even got the highest paying companies in America listed for a handy reference, for those who are research-averse.

Read what others say about their interview and negotiating processes:

After interviewing at Airbnb for a role as a customer experience specialist, one Oregon employee revealed, “The process took a few hours, was less scary than I’d worked myself for, and involved some role-playing, survival team-building scenarios, and short one-on-one interviews.” He/she then added a tidbit about the negotiation, writing, “I know salary is set in stone and is competitive!” Getting insight into HR practices and how others interact with hiring managers is super helpful information to know when you’re preparing to interview for a new job or negotiating at your current gig.

Get tangible advice:

Sure, the data is great, and the feedback from others is uber helpful, but when you’re ready to seal the deal and need to know what to say, Glassdoor has got you covered. Check out our dozens of articles dedicated to salary negotiation—how to make the case, what to say, what to wear, and even how to follow up if the negotiations don’t work in your favor initially. We’ve got the ultimate guide to asking for more and getting more.

Don’t sell yourself short:

A key cause of pay gaps within the same major is that men tend to enter higher-paying roles than women. Many studies have observed women not applying to positions unless they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. But many companies are willing to negotiate on which “requirements” are actually necessary. So the next time you encounter a “stretch” position, don’t be afraid to apply for it — you may be more qualified than you think.

Know your rights:

If you think discrimination might be holding you back from your full earning potential or advancing in your career, do some research into what your options are. Discrimination based on sex, race, religion, disability, pregnancy, and certain other traits are forbidden under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and you may have grounds for a lawsuit (or at least a stern talking-to with HR).

Level up your skillset:

College is a great place to learn the skills that will serve as the foundation for your career, but it’s not the only place. Online courses, certificate programs, apprenticeships, and similar programs can all help you learn in-demand, precious skills, often at a significantly lower cost than a college degree. If you find yourself drawn to a field, you don’t have a degree in exploring the available resources.

Women’s History Month and Equal Pay Day

Women’s History Month gives us the chance to honor women’s role in shaping our country and to examine women’s place in culture today. We recognize the brave women who demanded a political voice and equal educational and professional opportunities. March is our annual opportunity to take stock of our gender equity efforts to recalibrate and build a more inclusive culture.

Women’s History Month was first recognized in 1987 when the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) lobbied Congress to “write women back into history.” Founded in the early 1980s, NWHP recognized that women’s important contributions were missing from American history texts. The NWHP was committed to “honoring women of diverse cultural, ethnic, occupational, racial, class, and regional backgrounds.” Congress concurred and designated March as our month to “celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and [to] recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.”

Two important days in March are International Women’s Day on March 8 and Equal Pay Day, which falls on March 24, 2021. Each year, this important day marks how far into the year women have to work to earn what their male counterparts earn. Glassdoor is committed to closing the gender pay gap through our Salary Transparency Mission. Our CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong explains: “We believe transparency is one of the most powerful forces for good in the world. At its core, transparency empowers people with the right information to make the right decisions. . . Greater transparency leads to better decisions.”

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About the author: Shandra Johnson
I love to research and I'm very organized. I've worked in retail which is enjoyed. I wish I could find a job that allowed me to have more time with my son.

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