Talent Acquisition/ Leadership/ pay equity/ Diversity/ gender

Gender Pay Equity: The Fuse is lit; Fireworks to Commence

Gender Pay Equity: The Fuse is lit; Fireworks to Commence

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Capture5Last year California, our favorite ‘Bellwether State”, seriously considered making it illegal for recruiters to ask candidates their current salary before making them an offer…or not. It went nowhere (although they did shift the burden of proof to the employer to prove they weren’t discriminating vis-à-vis pay equity)

They lit the fuse.

A CareerXroads post we published in February, 2016 about the lack of concern among many employers to aggressively address the gender gap- Gender Gap Closed? Really? Who Thinks So? included this quote taken from a SHRM article

…another bill is, right now, ‘winding its way through the Massachusetts Legislature [it] would prohibit recruiters from asking prospective hires about their salary histories’

Last week (8/2/16) the New York Times reported that Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, signed Bill S.2119 into law.

It goes into effect July, 2018. In addition, noted as a footnote but, in our opinion of equal importance, the Bill prevents any employer from establishing restrictions or penalties if employees discuss or share their salary information.

If you are not employing people in Massachusetts or hiring candidates from Massachusetts, don’t get too comfortable. That fuse is now burning in your state.

We’ve seen half a dozen LI and Facebook posts this week about the new law. Recruiters are quick to point out all the ways the law is flawed. True. All laws are flawed.

What is missing in all the discussions is that laws like these are driven by our failure (HR and Recruiting) to self-regulate.

We have national training firms actively teaching recruiters to avoid any candidate question related to salary in order to ‘engage’ their interest. Surely these firms train these same recruiters to avoid asking what they don’t want to answer.

Recruiters wouldn’t routinely use salary to screen (disposition) candidates out without considering the institutional bias that action might have on the pool of candidates…or would they?

The majority of self-aware recruiters recognize their unconscious bias when asking salary questions, and they clearly know how to counsel hiring managers when constructing offers. No doubt they have, as part of their learning, a thorough understanding of compensation valuation as it is applied to their jobs.

Ok, maybe not.

As we said in February, employers should aggressively conduct their own internal research (analytics to the rescue), determine for themselves what pay gaps exist for gender, race and, other protected classes and, develop reasonable solutions. Failure to do so will ensure similar legislation in every State (maybe Federal) sooner rather than later.

Data and action to address real inequities, not complaints about unfair laws, is going to dictate how this issue gets addressed.

At the very least, Talent Acquisition/TM leaders should:

  • Establish a clear, written policy and set of common practices around pay offers to selected candidates.
  • Train recruiters and hiring managers on the practices that impact unconscious bias in exacerbating gender pay equity at key touchpoints in the candidate/employee life cycle.
  • Eliminate requests for salary/compensation history on applications.
  • Learn compensation theory and practice or hire someone who does.
  • Absent a law driving everyone nuts, Recruiters should not ask salary/compensation history at all or, do so only AFTER first sharing the salary range of the position and the variables considered in establishing an offer. (Perception of Fairness is a critical Candidate Experience factor).
  • Ensure recruiters guide and counsel ALL candidates by transparently describing what can and cannot be negotiated and what historically (data again) has been negotiated so that all (men and women) are on the same page.
  • Audit offers, increases, promotions etc. for pay disparity. Publish results to your employees. (Takes guts but it would be a competitive practice.)
  • Link the gender pay issue to other areas of diversity and inclusion training.

We would be interested in knowing any CXR member firm conducting training on gender pay equity that is willing to share how they approach this subject, who they use etc. We would love to Spotlight their practice.


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