A 2020 Perspective on Equality – Gender, Pay or otherwise

How employers treat age, ethnicity, geography, race, gender equality and other candidate characteristics has always been a hot topic and it may be due for a big change in 2020. Are you prepared?

One change driver? Access to data. Solid data. Immediate data. Data loaded with insights. Data from two sources, Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index and the 2019 Candidate Experience Survey – published last week – certainly qualify but just scratch the surface. Obviously equality, gender or otherwise, is more than pay. In the case of the Gender Equality Index (GEI), there are 5 measurable dimensions that 230 employers are sharing:

  1. Leadership and Talent Pipeline
  2. Equal Pay and Pay Parity Practices
  3. Inclusive Culture (Parental leave, Insurance, Benefits & Family Care practices)
  4. Sexual Harassment Policies
  5. A Pro-Woman EB

What will certainly drive the change is a visible and growing divide between those employers stepping up to do something about the lack of equality and those with their heads still stuck in the sand. My epiphany this past year came in a CXR meeting where the diversity discussion was extended by more than an hour after someone noted that the calculations for how long Gender Parity would take (under current conditions) ranged from 70-210 years. One member responded, “I’m. Tired. Of. Waiting.” The following discussion wasn’t about the problem but what actions need to happen from all of us to change that time line (instead of waiting for action from the top). Stepping up at all levels seems to us a potential for real change in 2020. 

How can you spark change and improve gender parity?

Let us note a few facts from GEI participants.

  • There has been a 40% increase in women at exec level from 2014-2017
  • Representation of women on boards of GEI participants is 2X the global average.
  • 38% of revenue-producing roles are held by women.
  • 43% of promotions were earned by women.
  • 34% of firms have programs looking to return to work after a career break.
  • 60% require a gender diverse slate for management positions.
  • 48% have D&I inclusion goals as part of senior managers’ annual performance reviews.
  • 60% conduct compensation reviews to identify gender-based variations in pay.
  • 91% of firms that found pay gap disparities fixed them.
  • 55% of firms have Supplier Diversity programs that include women-owned businesses.
  • 68% evaluate ALL advertising and marketing content (Hiring?) for gender biases prior to publication.
  • 47% cover fertility services.
  • 11 weeks is the global average number of weeks companies offer paid primary leave (20 firms have a global minimum parental leave policy of 16 weeks or more).

[Unconscious Bias is Morphing & Better Measurement is Here]

There’s more to the report but let’s take this as motivation for some questions to ask:

  1. Where would your firm rank on each of the above? (Can you even answer each of the above questions with data?)
  2. How do you (and everyone on your TA/HR/HM team) transparently and consistently explain any lack of data or the large differences between best practice and your practice?
  3. Imagine you are a GEI participant with rapidly improving stats? How much better is your recruitment marketing campaign? How much better would you be able to close who you want to hire?

And once you consider those questions, take the time to consider this and the clear actions it defines: Has your company calculated the gender pay gap for at least the critical roles your company needs to hire in 2020?

Nationally in the US only 27% of the Fortune 500 have done so. If you have done the calculation, what are you doing about it? Have you made that calculation public? (Of the 890 largest companies in the US only 65 have shared their gap publicly). In the UK and several other EMEA countries, the gap must be calculated by law and published openly on the company website. Why wait for your state to invent a method of calculation you won’t likely agree with?

If your firm hasn’t gotten to first base in calculating the gender pay gap you are not going to be competitive. Lobby internally every chance you get with the data from Bloomberg (and so many other indices) and work with the people most affected in your firm to uncover what should define the gap. Better yet lobby to join the GEI in 2020 and beyond. [Kudos to CXR members who participated in 2019: ADP, Capital One, CVS, Davita, Fifth Third Bank, Illumina, Marsh & McLennan, Schneider Electric, Scotiabank, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Yum Brands.]

Rethink how you handle the salary question

(I’m sure you were wondering when we would get around to this.)

TalentBoards’ Candidate Experience Awards survey of nearly 200,000 candidates during 2019, included a critical question about how salary/compensation questions were handled. As shown below you can see the most frequent response for candidates that got far enough for salary to be an issue is now the workaround to what more and more states have made illegal: asking directly for the candidate’s salary.

Screenshot 2020-01-08 at 3.05.51 PM

Let’s drill a little deeper into each respondent’s answers and examine their interview and overall experience to see if the question might have been, in part, affected. We can’t, of course, draw a straight line here because we’re not dealing with a causal factor. However, we can infer that the approach used by an employer to handle salary i.e. “I was not told the salary of the position [even] after requesting it” might be indicative of other practices that are also less than satisfactory.

[Study Highlights Gender Parity Issues]

Below are the Candidates’ Overall and Interview Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for EACH answer to the salary question posted above. Side note: This isn’t the place to define NPS. Let’s just say that the closer to 100 the better.

Screenshot 2020-01-08 at 3.10.47 PM

While NPS numbers in the 40s are definitely “positive,” there is a clear statistical difference suggesting that the more transparent the employer (and the candidate) is to sharing, the better the final outcome. More study might actually identify a broader set of factors and their weighting but, for the moment, this issue will certainly play a part.

Our conclusion is that asking salary expectations is better – but not that much better – than asking salary directly. Asking for expectations is, at best, a compliance workaround, not an adoption of a candidate-centric practice. Draw your own conclusions, preferably by sharing this data with your team and recent hires. Even better, sign up for TalentBoard’s 10th year candidate experience awards survey in 2020, capping a decade of collecting data to research the quality and business impact of how we treat our candidates. That way you’ll have your own data to compare against the benchmark and who knows, you might be raising the bench for everyone.

(Full disclosure: TalentBoard is a non-profit founded in 2010. Gerry Crispin is a co-founder and current board member. He receives no financial benefit from his involvement. Gerry has no connection to the Gender Equality Index.)

Gerry Crispin

Gerry Crispin

Gerry co-authored eight books on the evolution of staffing and has written 100s of articles and whitepapers on similar topics during a career in Human Resources that spans more than 40 years from HR leadership positions at Johnson and Johnson; to boutique Executive Search firms; a Career Services Director at the University where he received his Engineering and 2 advanced degrees in Organizational/Industrial Behavior; and, GM of a major recruitment advertising firm even as he launched CareerXroads 25 years ago.

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