What’s blocking gender pay equity?
Timed for International Women’s Day, Lululemon reported that it had reached 100 percent gender pay equity — or equal pay for equal work — for the third year in a row.
The retailer worked with an external organization to review factors like location, experience level and performance when assessing compensation.
“We’re proud that over time, that investment has declined as our programs for diversity and inclusion have become stronger,” said Lululemon. “Even so, re-evaluating gender pay equity has been built into our annual plans to ensure consistency year after year for all our people.”
In 2014, Gap Inc. became the first Fortune 500 firm to publicly confirm it pays men and women equally for the same jobs. Amazon.com, Nike, Starbucks, Costco, Target and Nordstrom are among others that have achieved that status.
The retail industry, however, generally doesn’t get good grades for pay equity.
Glassdoor’s “Progress on the Gender Pay Gap: 2019” found retail and media tied for the largest gender pay gap across industries. In both industries, women in the U.S. earn on average 93.6 cents per dollar earned by men working in the same job title, same company and with similar background and experience. Other recent studies indicate that the pay disparity for retail may be much worse.
Factors causing the disparity are varied.
- Family caregiving responsibilities, particularly motherhood, can lead to interruptions in career paths for women that may impact pay rates. Offering childcare benefits is seen as one solution.
- Women also tend to undervalue themselves compared to men when applying for jobs and are being encouraged to more forcefully negotiate employment packages.
- And discrimination hasn’t gone away. A new United Nations Development Program index on social norms related to gender found 91 percent of men and 86 percent of women held at least one clear bias.
Companies are improving their diversity hiring programs to address the problems, as well as using data to remove biases. New data from PayScale finds openly sharing employee salaries could be a top solution to closing the gender pay gap. PayScale’s CEO Scott Torrey told CNBC, “Most employers want to pay all employees fairly. But it is clear to us that unconscious bias is part of human nature.”
- Equal Pay for Equal Work – Lululemon
- Lululemon Athletica Achieves 100 Percent Gender Pay Equity – WWD
- Nordstrom Achieves 100 Percent Pay Equity – Nordstrom
- Gender Pay Equity In Retail: A Long Way To Go – Retail Insights
- Progress on the Gender Pay Gap: 2019 – Glassdoor
- 20 jobs with the largest gender pay gap for women – USA Today
- The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay – Pew Research
- Gender wage gap narrows but shows no signs of going away – CNBC
- Almost 90% of Men/Women Globally Are Biased Against Women – United Nations Development Programme
- Data show pay transparency could be the No.1 solution to closing the gender pay gap – CNBC
- Closing the Gender Gap Is Good for Business – Sloan Review
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see retail being more prone to gender pay inequity than other industries? What do you see as the main obstacles to achieving gender pay equity and what steps can retailers take to close the gap?