Equal pay laws have been around for decades, but the gender pay gap persists. Women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns—but some groups fare much worse. Black women earn 62 cents, Native American women earn 60 cents, and Latina women earn 55 cents. Working moms earn 72 cents for every dollar working dads earn. LGBTQ+ women in tech earn 90 cents for every $1 offered to non-LGBTQ+ men. 

Men are offered higher salaries than women for the same job title, at the same company, 63 percent of the time—and women are learning about these pay disparities. When negotiating for a pay increase, men are 7 percent more likely than women to get that increase, while women are more likely to get improvements to benefits, stock options, or their job title.

The pay gap can also be partially attributed to an opportunity gap. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted. The share of women in SVP roles is 28 percent, and the share of women in the C-suite is 21 percent. Only 3 percent of C-level executives are women of color, while 66 percent are white men. 

It’s time to close the gender pay gap. If you’re ready to take action, here’s a 3 step framework to help you get started.

1. Begin with your data

We recently sat down with Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar, Chief People Officer at Minted, to discuss the best strategies for championing diversity & inclusion. His first piece of advice? “In order to set D&I and organizational change up for success, HR leaders must act like data analysts.” He encourages leaders to review people data at every stage of the employee lifecycle to get a holistic view of the state of D&I at your company.

Here are a few areas to think about in regard to the gender pay gap:

  • Pay equity analysis: Run a pay equity analysis to learn where you stand in regard to the gender pay gap. Look at your company-wide average salary, and compare it to the average salary for both men and women. Break down average salaries by department, manager, job level, and role.
  • Hiring pipeline: Your pay gap could be due to occupational segregation or an opportunity gap. If women are underrepresented in certain roles or job levels, take note of how many women and men you have at each stage of your recruitment process. Are women applying for your roles, or being proactively sourced? Are they being screened out at higher rates during certain parts of your recruitment process, and why? Are offer acceptance rates similar between men and women? Can you identify any factors that may be contributing to suspected inequities?
  • Promotion rate: Promotion inequities can contribute to a company-level gender wage gap. Look at your promotion rate overall, and compare it to your promotion rate for men versus women. Break it down by job level, to see the percentage of female individual contributors that are being promoted to managers, how many managers are being promoted to directors, and so forth. How does this compare to promotion rates for men at your company? How does the time to promotion differ between the two groups?
  • Turnover rate: Review your average employee turnover rate, and compare it to the average turnover for men versus women. Then dig into your exit survey data to learn the reasons your female employees are leaving.
  • Employee surveys: Women may not be staying at your company long enough to climb the ladder. Learn about employee needs and challenges before they leave through regular employee surveys. Find out what they think about company culture, compensation, and opportunities for development and advancement, among other things. See how answers differ between women and men to learn how you can better support each group. 

Next, take an intersectional view of each of these areas to see how different aspects of an employee’s identity may be impacting their experience. For instance, calculate the promotion rate Black women, Black men, mothers, fathers, LGBTQ women, and so on. Each will experience the workplace differently.

2. Set goals

Once you know where you stand, you can set appropriate goals for your organization. As Jay shares, “The more defined the problem, the more measurable it is. Then you don’t have to debate the key metrics.”

Goals will vary based on the specific issues you uncovered through your data, but may include:

  • Strategic compensation adjustments: Once you’ve identified gender pay gaps, make a plan to improve them. This may be immediate, during your next compensation cycle, or over the course of several compensation cycles. Then make it a point to continue conducting regular pay audits and making necessary adjustments.
  • Rewriting job descriptions: If an occupational segregation is to blame for your gender pay gap, you will want to diversify your candidate pipelines. Gender-neutral job descriptions can increase the number of female applicants for your roles. Make it a goal to re-write job descriptions for your evergreen roles, for your leadership roles, or for all new requisitions. 
  • Keep “two in the pool”: If you only have one female job candidate in a pool of four finalists, her odds of being hired are statistically zero. But having two female finalists increases the chances of hiring a woman. Make it a goal to keep “two in the pool” whenever you can.
  • Career pathing: If lack of advancement is an issue for women at your company, manager KPIs should include goal setting, employee development plans, and career paths for all employees. It should be clear what it takes to advance to the next level, so employees, their managers, and company leaders are all on the same page and more objective decisions can be made.
  • Mentoring and sponsorship: Similarly, mentoring and sponsorship can improve career advancement for women. Make it a goal to identify high-potential female employees, and set them up with mentors and sponsors who can advocate for them and help them along their career paths.

3. Implement processes to close the gender pay gap

Armed with data and goals, you can now implement processes, strategies and tactics that will help you close the gender pay gap. These may include:

  • Building salary ranges: Never ask a candidate’s salary history to determine their compensation, as this will only perpetuate the gender pay gap. Instead, build salary ranges for each role or group of roles, and ask about salary expectations if you want to be sure they align. 
  • Internal mobility: Fix the “broken rung,” or the step between individual contributor and manager by prioritizing internal mobility. Managers should be trained in goal setting and career pathing, and regularly review progress with their reports. When the skills needed to progress are clear, more objective decisions can be made. 
  • Training: Voluntary training around diversity, equity, and inclusion can help make people more aware of their unconscious biases—so they can overcome them. Training may come in the form of workshops, webinars, speaker series, or employee mediated roundtable discussions.
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): ERGs are voluntary groups that build community between employees with shared characteristics, interests, and issues so they may support one another. This may provide a natural opportunity for mentorship and sponsorship between company leaders and individual contributors.

Final thoughts on the gender pay gap

The gender pay gap is a persistent issue, which will require an ongoing effort to overcome. As Jay said, “It’s important to understand that when it comes to D&I, this isn’t something you just start and finish, it’s a never ending journey for People Ops or HR teams. When you decide to make a change, it’s often harder and slower than people expect. It’s something you have to sustain, you can never take the pressure off the pedal.”


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A 3 Step Framework to Closing the Gender Pay Gap