If you ever heard, “well, you came into the role at a low salary” to justify why you are not where your peers are currently. Or if a boss has ever told you, “you aren’t ready for a promotion, you need to prove yourself,” yet a male peer, with fewer accomplishments somehow, is maneuvered to a higher role after a few rounds of drinks or golf. If you have ever watched someone take all the credit for your work because what they produced or didn’t produce wouldn’t sell their skills, you are likely a woman who is underpaid or in a lower title compared to your peers.
Believe it or not, a lot of managers and recruiters bring women and minorities into roles lower with the intent for them to “show their skill.” As though their resumes and background do not justify the proper pay and title as would a white male colleague.
COVID19 can change our past narrative of the pay gap and correct many wrongs that women and minorities have experienced throughout their careers. Here are four ways I believe COVID19 can have a positive impact:
Rehiring staff after the pandemic
Employee screening may be streamlined, but it isn’t wholly different from the initial onboarding process. Now is an opportunity to update job descriptions and pay scales to align employees upon return. The pay gap only exists because men come in higher and achieve bonuses and promotions more often. This is not because they do more work, better work, or something different; instead, the assumptions of their commitment due to children, pregnancy, or work/life balance are held against women. Minorities, on the other hand, often walk into corporate jobs through entry-level roles. Meaning they start substantially lower than others and move slower through the promotion process.
Restructuring Roles and Responsibilities
If roles will change due to the number of employees or the ramp-up period for business, now is the time to document those expected changes. Leverage a pay scale that reflects the business goals going back to 100% operational. Please note, this includes management roles, many companies make the error of ignoring lousy management due to relationships they have with the person. A company that disregards management issues fails top-down, develops a laughable reputation, and will return with the same rate of turnover they had pre-COVID. I have witnessed managers reviewing survey results and interpreting who said what and why—opposed to addressing the underlining issue that the employee is stating. Assuming everyone that works at the company is wrong on the survey because management thinks they do a great job is an ongoing issue in top-down control. The people working at all levels are reflective of the success of the company, don’t alienate them by not performance managing at all levels.
Recruiters have a responsibility to screen candidates for their capabilities and not their past earnings. It is well known that men often enter roles with less experience and more money because it is assumed they need to make more being breadwinners. I am here to tell you that many women are breadwinners too, and despite having to write that down, you should know their position in the family shouldn’t determine their salary. Skill, knowledge, and capability to do the job in its entirety qualify the person, and the pay scale should not be a range so vast that management is told to say “there is no scale.” That is not only irresponsible but see through. There is always a scale, and you cannot justify paying women and minorities less by stating one doesn’t exist, especially if your outliers only represent women and minorities.
Add a minority to your Board or Senior Management Team
Now is the time, no more excuses as to why your board of directors has not one minority on it, or your management team, which has direct access to the board, has only one minority or none at all. Why? Different perspectives, different understandings, and a representation of society as opposed to your circle of friends. Consider all cultures when making decisions on how to performance management. Consider the communities that support your business products and services. Build communities as opposed to isolating them. Every minority that is hired into a salary band that they not only deserve but are entirely qualified for opens a door of hope to a minority child that thinks your company is the standard of success. That child can witness a new truth vs. the one many of us have had growing up when we realize that most corporate companies have a glass ceiling for women and a brick wall for minorities. Don’t make fictitious walls and ceilings your company legacy instead focus on unlimited potential.
Dr. Amera McCoy is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist who is the Owner and Founder of McCoy Consulting LLC, an organization that offers a suite of services for businesses including advisory, lending, coaching, writing and employee workshops.
Facebook page: @mccoyconsultingllc