The tagline of the Washington Post newspaper is “truth dies in darkness”. I have taped this phrase to my computer screen. It reminds me, my job is to say what I believe to be true. Because if I don’t there is a consequence. I might not always know the consequence, but I know there is one. My colleague Debra Logan and I are working on our EPIC project which is solving the data and analytic problems that exist when assessing and remediating gender pay equity. We have put together a framework and are hashing out the details as I type.
The Sticky Challenge
The sticky challenge is not about the data or methods. It is about how to report the results of an analysis. And why is this sticky? Let’s say we all work for a company that completes a gender pay analysis (following the EPIC model of course) and the results show there are some roles where a set of women are paid less than they should be. The organization would be reluctant to report those results. Why? Because what would stop the women from filing a lawsuit demanding that those wages get remediated? Nothing.
And that is the sticky challenge. We are putting together a program so that all companies, across the globe, follow the same methodology for assessing pay equity. But while they are doing the analysis, in the time between identifying the pay gaps and closing them, there is a vulnerability. A legal vulnerability to the companies.
The Sticky Challenge Has A Solution
We need safe harbor provisions that protect organizations who are striving to do the right thing. Currently only three states in the US have put these provisions into the equity pay legislation (Massachusetts, Oregon and Colorado). And not nearly enough other countries are doing the same thing. But I would argue we shouldn’t need legislation.
If we want to fix pay equity, we need to tap into our Nelson Mandela-ness who in creating a safe place to investigate the human rights abuses from Apartheid avoided civil war and bloodshed. We need to tap into our motherhood-ness by saying we need to sacrifice now to provide better for our daughters. We need to tap into our father-ness/brother-ness and demand our organizations assess and remediate pay equity. If COVID taught us anything it is that we are in this together. And together we can get to a different place.
Because “truth dies in darkness”, let’s require our organizations to assess and remediate pay equity. But commit to not dragging these into the courts for resolution. Of course there needs to be a time limit. That is why our EPIC program’s goal is for pay equity to be achieved by 2025. That is only four years away. We can do this.