- The gender pay gap closed slightly, with women earning 80.5 cents — up from 79.6 cents in 2015 — on every dollar men earn, reports Fortune, citing 2016 U.S. Census Bureau numbers. But the pay gap narrowed largely because men's earnings decreased, despite the rise in women's earnings being the most significant since 2007.
- Key factors that usually contribute to the gender pay gap are career options open for women, decisions to have a family and sex discrimination, says Fortune. But last year's relative pay increase for women is largely due to decreases in take-home pay for men. Women's median wage increase is 2.3% more than in 2007. During the same time period, men lost 1.1% of their earnings.
- Fortune says to continue closing the wage gap, employers can offer paid family leave, more-effective anti-discrimination policies and affordable childcare.
The narrowing of the gender pay gap, however slight, would be a significant break-through if the reason was fair pay practices rather than earning losses for men. Since women's wages lag behind men's in similar occupations, laws that forbid employers from asking about pay history and basing salaries on past earnings could further narrow the gap.
Several states and municipalities have adopted salary-history bans to help close gender pay gaps, but these laws aren't without opposition. Illinois's governor recently vetoed the proposal in his state and, in May, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an employer using job applicants' salary histories to set pay. Recent studies have also thrown into question whether such policies actually help women at all, especially if systemic bias already exists in an organization.
HR is now called upon to analyze vast amounts of employee data to improve business strategy, and pay is no exception here. HR managers can access pay-range data based on occupation, region, education and other variables to see if pay rates in their organizations are fair and competitive — a by no means easy feat, but an increasingly necessary one if employers want to keep retention high.