How to set up Gender-Blind pay Benchmarks

The fact that women are paid unfairly in comparison to men in India has been a point of contention for decades.

According to a recent study:

  • Women in India still earn 19 % less than men.
  • Men earn INR 242 median gross hourly salary while women earn only INR 196.3.

The gender pay gap is real.

Politicians and reformists have often voiced their opinion against the pay gap. And while this move does bring the problem at hand to the fore for all to see, there have also been outcries against companies for not ‘doing enough’ to bridge the gap.

How you can set up benchmarks for gender pay gap?

Companies have gone out of their way and hired consultants to understand the reason behind the gender pay gap and the possible solutions from an HR and legal perspective.

But companies need to do more — benchmarks need to be set.

And again, it’s not that simple.

These benchmarks — given below — must measure the gap, fix it (by helping underpaid women), without ballooning the wage bill, creating legal liabilities, and wrecking the entire incentive structure.

  1. Understand your pay gap

Begin with analysing where the pay gaps exist in your organisation.

For this, you can divide employees — of the same attributes, position, experience, market value, performance, and qualifications — in groups and find out if they’re paid fairly.

This must necessarily be conducted when the organisation is contemplating incentives based on merit. Adjust and structure the pay to close the gap. If you cannot do so, consider yourself accountable and clearly explain the reasons.

2. Tweak your hiring process

Because you don’t only want to know about the pay gap but also address the core — where it all begins?

While recruiting women, do not base your decision around their marital status, their past salary, or their work-family life balance.

Give them a fair chance depending on their skills and abilities.

Why should you do that?

Because it is seen that women who get past these initial prejudices often end up suffering the burn of the gender pay gap. So, make sure you pay women on based on the value they bring to your organisation.

To begin, establish clear and non-discriminatory hiring practices and diversity goals.
A great example is that of companies like BBC and Deloitte which implement blind hiring wherein HR’s anonymize the applications so that their subconscious bias doesn’t affect the final results.

3. Reprogram yourself

Let’s face the fact — it’s usually understood that certain job roles belong exclusively to men.

This happens majorly in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are also male-preferred policies wherein only men are chosen for certain roles; for example, sales jobs as it’s travel intense.

Also, when closing a business deal, clients still expect men in senior management positions.

All this wiring paves the way for gender pay gap.

And women who do manage to get into these roles are paid less even when they outperform their male counterparts.

This is where you must include women across all roles and levels of the organisation so that there’s no chance of discriminatory pay.

4. Flawed career advancement

Men are traditionally given the responsibilities of fulfilling challenging and ambitious roles while women are given supporting roles.

This leads to experienced women in the organisation never reaching the leadership positions.

Even with the same qualifications, performance, and skills they’re slotted into supporting roles and face gender pay gap.

To address this, make arrangements to impart leadership training to women, set women-networks for added support, and create ecosystems that encourage women to attain top positions when they deserve it.

5. Support transparency in compensation

There’s a dire need for organisations to be transparent about their compensation policies.

Truth be told, not all organisations support full disclosure of employee salaries.

But you can atleast start by disclosing the criteria and formula to calculate employee pay, merit increases, and bonus and your pay range within the organisation.

This way, you’ll not only create a transparent culture in the organisation, but also set a benchmark for gender-blind pay.

To set standards of gender pay equity, you must have dedicated members in the organisations who are accountable for the same. These individuals should include HR managers and individuals and employees responsible for remuneration.

Of course, the government also needs to take countermeasures and set up rules for you to incorporate gender-blind pay measures.

But understand this — it starts with you.

Eliminate the conscious and subconscious biases, analyse the process, and have review systems in place to identify your organisation as a benchmark for closing the gender gap.

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