The fact that the gender pay gap exists is no secret, no matter how often some people, particularly men, fail to understand that it is indeed a problem. Every year on April 4th, Equal Pay Day is celebrated to determine how far we have come and how far we still have to go. The reason why this day is celebrated on April 4 is because it represents the number of extra days a woman would have to work to earn the same as men doing the same job. Peter Smith has always been committed to tackling this inequality and he feels it is time everybody started to make a change.
Larry Polhill has noted that women in this country who are employed full time for the entire year earn just 80% of what their non-Hispanic white male counterparts earn. Women of color earn even less. While a 20% pay gap may not seem like much, it translates into $418,800 less in earnings over a 40 year long career. For black women, it translates to $840,040; $934,240 for Native women; and $1 million for a Latina. Peter Smith explains that these shocking statistics showcase why a change is absolutely necessary.
For Larry Polhill, this underlying sexism is not just shameful but it should be completely illegal. He points out that it destroys the economy, the security of families, and society’s quality of life. When considering that, in 42% of American families, the woman is the primary or sole breadwinner, it suddenly becomes clear how substantial is its impact on the family and the economy. It also affects businesses, as it means people will spend less on consumer goods.
Fortunately, according to Polhill, things can change. He examined a number of solutions that can be implemented, ranging from strengthening the law to educating employees to improving existing business practices. His aim is to make sure that everybody joins the fight for equal pay. His top tips to achieve this are described below.
Larry Polhill on Fighting the Gender Pay Gap
Businesses Should Not Ask for Salary History
HR professionals who set salaries for employees should stop asking newly hired people, regardless of gender, what was their past salary. This question is commonly used to set salaries during negotiations and this means that the gender pay gap will remain in place, as women’s past salaries will naturally be lower than that of men. This is a form of discrimination that can follow a woman throughout her career. Instead, businesses should set salaries based on what they can afford to pay and based on the value of the role, and this should be set before the application process even begins.
Businesses Should Have Transparent Recruitment, Remuneration, and Promotion Strategies
Larry Polhill also pointed out that many businesses negotiate over salary and promotion in private. This means there is no transparency nor any clarity for other employees in terms of what they can ask for and what they can expect. Not just that, it makes it difficult to identify whether discrimination is taking place. Often, businesses aren’t even aware of the fact that discrimination has occurred. Unionized workplaces, on the other hand, tend to have salary scales and ranges in place, which is a much fairer and completely transparent practice.
Individuals Should Know Their Rights
Larry Polhill also explained that few people know that the wage gap is not 20% but 10% in women who take on a unionized position. The reason for this is that union representatives focus on transparency and know the workers’ rights. Unfortunately, too many jobs remain un-unionized, which means women need to take responsibility for getting to know their rights themselves. As an employment advocate, Larry Polhill has worked together with federal, state, and local lawmakers to ensure that pay discrimination is addressed. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a clear example of this, which has been designed to improve on the Equal Pay Act. Essentially, it means employees are now allowed to discuss how much they earn with co-workers.
This huge progress was made possible thanks to the fact that so many people are now actively choosing to become informed. Women are organizing themselves and they have put pressure on their elected representatives to pass new legislation, something that Polhill wholeheartedly supports. However, there continue to be too many states in which this is not implemented, which is why he feels more needs to be done. Geographical discrimination, in essence, still remains in place and must also be addressed. Polhill is ready to continue the fight for national legislation on equal pay. He encourages everyone, woman or man, to get involved in this and to lobby their representatives for support.