As part of organisations’ Diversity & Inclusion agendas, we have witnessed some companies go beyond their commitment to only improving women representation in the workforce and further address the hot button issue of the gender pay gap as part of the persistent pay equity challenge.
Although pay equity has been most commonly used in the context of sexual discrimination, in relation to the gender pay gap where historically women were generally paid less than men, it is also true that there is still a crucial factor for this gap that has been slightly overlooked and is as important in solving the pay equity problem applicable to both men and women. This factor relates to the way we still design our offers to candidates. How can play a part in solving this genderless problem?
Traditionally and as a standard process in many companies, salary offers have been designed by considering the candidate’s current salary and apply adjustments seen suitable for his attraction. In some instances, this approach has been perceived as taking advantage of candidates to save money and support the business, while in other instances, it has been rationalized by the need to keep room for the candidate’s negotiation.
As a result, candidates, men or women, have been held back by their current or previous salaries, bringing this gap into the next organization creating discrepancy in the internal equity and a greater pay gap among candidates who have similar profiles and are seen fit for the same job. This approach has only helped prolonging the cycle of wage discrimination.
To address this problem, recently asking the interview question “what is your current salary?” has become illegal in New York City, California and several other states with plans to prohibit it across the US. This law bans employers from asking candidates about their salary history and focuses instead on offering candidates what they are really worth.
Letitia James, New York city’s public advocate addressing this issue has rightfully and beautifully stated it:“Being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity!”
Knowing that some countries have moved quicker than others in addressing this problem, I call for us in the Middle East, as HR, recruiters and business professionals to move away from the practice of asking candidates about their previous salary information and instead focus on offering them what we believe they are worth. All offers should reflect the true value of the role while accounting for the business affordability.
Let us all work together to break this cycle of a genderless inequity that has been prevalent for so long in our organizations!