The gender wage gap is real, complex and nuanced, and it exists for many reasons and in many sectors, including finance and accounting.
Naturally, not all of the reasons for wage variation are a consequence of gender. Some other reasons could be differences in the career paths typically chosen by men and women or that some women might pick more flexible jobs or schedules to accommodate their families.
However, these examples do not account for the widespread gender pay disparities that exist in the business world.
People might disagree on the specific reasons why gender pay inequity exists within the accoutning or finance sector - and how much of it is based on gender alone, but almost everyone recognizes that it is a problem that has been around for a long time and needs to be addressed.
Accounting firms who want to remain competitive need to have practices, policies and strategies to show all their employees that they matter, regardless of gender, and prove it by aiming for wage parity.
An example of how businesses are addressing the widespread problem of pay inequality took place in Silicon Valley on Equal Pay Day.
A recent panel of HR leaders was assembled by Hired to discuss specific strategies and suggested solutions they are implementing to close the gap.
Panellist Yuki Horiguchi, Global Head of Total Rewards for Dropbox recommends defining clear reasons "why we may differentiate for pay in comparable levels across the org."
Accountants who want to be successful and have a satisfied workforce must do whatever they can to make sure that men and women are paid fairly for the work they do and have the same opportunities.
Satisfied employees who feel they are fairly compensated will have a higher level of commitment and do a better job for the company.
Varies by Industry
The gender wage gap varies by profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the occupation with the most substantial pay gap is financial advisors.
It also found that the top ten occupations that have the highest gap are in the financial industry. One reason might be that more men are working in this business sector.
The reverse is true for the real estate industry, where women earn more than their male counterparts. This is likely because there are more female brokers and agents than male.
What are some of the ways companies can show their commitment to closing the gender wage gap?
Offer Flexible Schedules
As mentioned above, one possible contributing factor to the gender wage gap could be that some women might choose jobs where they can have flexible schedules to accommodate family obligations.
Technological advancements and innovation have changed the way employees get their jobs done. The ability to work remotely enables staff, regardless of gender, to find a better balance between their work and personal lives.
Companies who offer flexible work arrangements and schedules are showing their employees that they are valued. This type of company culture benefits the workers while meeting the demands of the business.
Awareness and Fairness
Before a company can take steps to provide equal pay for equal work, they need to understand how much they are currently paying their employees by gender. This can be accomplished by conducting a pay audit.
Analyze and get a clear understanding of how your current compensation processes are implemented once the audit is complete.
This includes looking at the criteria for internal promotions. Team leaders and managers should be trained to help them not use gender bias when making staffing decisions.
Opportunities for advancement should be based on skills, knowledge and work performance - not gender.
Women need to understand that they have the same chances of getting promoted as their male counterparts.
After your audit, you will know precisely which areas need improvement. Below are some of the actions your company can take to remedy gender pay gaps:
- If you find an employee with the same job performing at the same level with the same tenure as another employee, but they are paid less money, raise their compensation.
- When hiring new employees, recruit those who are most qualified, regardless of gender.
- Provide equal training to those who are on the path to management positions.
- Don't base hiring salaries on previous wage history. Many women have already experienced income inequality in previous jobs. If you base your offer on what they made in past positions, that inequality will be carried over into your company. Offer salaries based on qualifications and what the job is worth.
Be transparent with staff members about the steps you are taking to overcome gender income disparity. Provide regular updates and share your company’s progress with your employees.
Some of the above suggestions can be implemented immediately, such as raising the pay rate for those who are underpaid.
Others will take time as you train your account management and hiring teams to work with you to implement and improve new policies and strategies.
About David Trounce
David is a small business consultant based in Australia. David works in Publishing and Small Business Management. He also writes for Business.com and Born 2 Invest.