Event Recap: Pay Inequity

WID Asks Why? Series: Pay Inequity

On April 14, 2021, a panel of non-profit professionals came together on the virtual stage to engage in a discussion on the important topic of pay inequity.

Faith Eutsay, Senior Consultant at Lindauer Global, thoughtfully moderated the discussion and asked the panel—Patricia D. Keenan, Vice President of Advancement, Community and Equity at Ellis, Ahmed Mohammed, Director of Talent Acquisition at Harvard Medical School, Andrea Silbert, President at Eos Foundation, and Sharon J. Stanczak, CFRE, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the Whitehead Institute—tough questions on the matter to shed light on the systemic problem of pay inequity.

Where are we with pay equity? Is there a problem and how would you describe it? The panelists categorized pay equity into three areas: (1) equal pay for equal work (2) gender and racial pay gaps; and (3) gap of access to opportunity. There is clearly a systemic problem, impacting people in different ways. There is little to no progress, and there is a lot of work to be done.

Is it a myth that somehow pay gap is closing fast? Myth. The Pay gap, which is defined as what the average man is making in the US vs. the average woman, is not closing fast. Data shows it is only getting wider. According to the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, in 2013, the average women’s pay was 80 cents on the dollar to the average man in the Greater Boston area. In 2020, it is now 73 cents on the dollar. Turning to national statistical data, black women are paid 62 cents on the dollar, Latina women are paid 53 cents, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women are paid 62 cents on the dollar. 

What tactics, trainings, or tools would you recommend to managers and employees to help address the problems of pay inequity? The panelists suggested the following approaches:(1) Pay Performance Review. Ongoing review amongst the organization, the manager and the employee. All three parties play an important role in the discussion and have a responsibility to participate. (2) Education during the recruitment and interviewing processProvide managers with informational materials about pay equity and pay gaps so they’re consciously thinking about the subject during recruitment. (3) Mentorship. It can be difficult for women to advocate for themselves. Be an advocate for one another through mentorship and try to embolden people to get more comfortable about having conversations about pay and how much they are worth. 

Is it a fact that women do not negotiate as aggressively and what role does that play in this pay inequity space? Fact. Harvard Business Review recently came out with a study that women who are very aggressive in negotiations can face a backlash. More organizations should get rid of negotiation for pay increases all together. But since they aren’t, we all need to know how to negotiate. Here are some helpful tips: know your self-worth, find a buddy, perhaps a male that can be an ally, that can help strategize with you and role play; always do your research and speak from a place of information; and know that it is okay to take the time to think about an offer and to counter offer.  

What must we do? Discussion, education and training. There must be a commitment from managers and policymakers and those who are in the position of power to want to make this difference. The awareness on the subject is critically important, and we must continue to keep having these difficult conversations. It is important to keep talking about all inequities. It’s a systemic problem and people can be agents to change.

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