We’ve Won No Salary History in Illinois! So What’s Next for Equal Pay?
Today, we are celebrating a victory in closing the gender wage gap in Illinois with the Governor’s signing of the No Salary History bill, prohibiting employers from asking for salary history (current and past) from job candidates — a practice that perpetuates pay inequity and compounds it from job to job. This impact of job-to-job pay discrimination is especially great for women of color, who often experience even larger wage gap. Many forward-thinking employers have already eliminated the practice. While this legislation is a significant step forward in getting to equal pay, there are still a number of impactful actions that employers can do to ensure an equitable workplace when it comes to compensation:
- Provide transparency through providing salary ranges and openness about wages. Knowing salary ranges gives candidates and employees the information that helps them understand whether they are being paid fairly. Ensuring that there is no retaliation or discriminatory action against employees who discuss compensation is critical. While transparency about pay doesn’t close the gender wage gap on its own, it does ensure that everyone is on the same page and able to point out discrepancies.
- Conduct regular pay audits and advancement analysis, address any compensation differences that are uncovered and publish progress reports. Companies can conduct an internal pay-equity audit to ensure that there is not a gender wage gap in the organization and/or to understand the gap. Bringing in a consultant or external expert will help to validate the findings. If there is a gap, it is essential that the company take action to correct and prevent it in the future. The analysis should extend to hiring and promotions, which includes evaluating recruitment, retention, and advancement practices to make sure that decisions are based on skills, experiences, and qualifications rather than biases and barriers. Some sources indicate that about 40% of the gap is due to “unexplained factors” like discrimination and 60% is due to other social factors such as career choices, lack of access to paid leave, leaning out, child care, etc. The information gleaned from regular audits and analyses empowers employers with an understanding of what’s actually happening, and what needs to change. Publishing the progress made towards correcting this inequity demonstrates the employer’s commitment both internally and externally.
- Analyze compensation decisions before they are finalized. Unlike the popular belief that women don’t negotiate, women ask for raises as often as men, but they are less likely to get them. In fact, there is evidence that a gender bias influences how employees negotiating their salaries are seen: when women negotiate for higher salaries, people may react more negatively than to men who ask for higher compensation. Adding a step of having a third party analyze these compensation decisions before they’re finalized may help to disrupt the impact of this bias.
Many of these practices, including the prohibition on salary history questions, are part of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation which Women Employed supports because it eliminating loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, helping to combat the wage discrimination that has prevented women from attaining economic security and equity for too long.
We still need people like YOU to stand up and speak out for equal pay, whether that be advocating for the measures above in your own workplace, or by taking action to support legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act. Get involved with Women Employed, and we’ll keep you informed of ways to make a difference!