Here’s some good news for the still new-ish year: At our current rate of progress on closing the gender pay gap, we only have between 54 (Western Europe) and 151 (North America) years left to go to close the gender pay gap. (WEF report, 2020, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf).
These sorts of numbers and the headlines they generate are a problem in more ways than one. Of course we’ve got to speed this up. But that’s not all. The underlying problem is that the world is full of numbers ‘like this’: what is the methodology behind the WEF number? Do we know? Can we understand and replicate it? Because that isn’t the only number out there regarding how long it will close the gender pay gap. Depending on the source, it could be 60 years (Fawcett Society), 40 years (UCL Study) or 70 years (OIT, a UN agency specializing in labour policy).
Similarly, the issue of ‘how we calculate the pay gap’ and everything to do with it is based on a random and arbitrary set of assumptions, a non-uniform set of definitions and a plethora of different methodologies. In addition, because fixing the pay gap is subject to legislation, regulation and social movement pressure which is variable across nations and industries, getting it ‘done’ quickly is paramount. We all know the ‘cheap, quick or good pick two’ meme: it may be getting done, but it is most certainly not being done right. There are many challenges which include:
• We have underestimated the complexity of the issues raised and how to really and thereby not fielding the right team or engaging the right kind of external expertise to solve the problem. Pay equity is treated as a ‘tick the box’ activity.
• There are not uniform data definitions or methodologies for assessing pay equity. When organizations do analyses to validate their pay equity, cynicism creeps in about the results.
• No investment in filling equity gaps, and monitoring those gaps to assure they do not re-emerge.
• There is no monitoring over time allowing pay gaps to re-emerge. It is not one and done. We must continuously analyse pay disparities and remediate them and do root cause analysis, correcting as we go. Not making this at least a yearly process will make it 100% certain that disparities will creep back in.
• Government regulation will not solve the problem. 50 years on, despite a plethora of laws and regulations, we are where we are, which isn’t where we need to be.
With a combination of skill and will, we think that we can meet these challenges, properly address and remediate the gender pay gap WITHIN FIVE YEARS. To do this, we are proposing something EPIC: Equitable Performance-based Integrity Compensation. EPIC is another path that may, finally, allow us to achieve the goal of pay equity in the next five years. We are creating a standard, world-wide methodology and set of practices for pay equity analysis and remediation
Watch this space as my research partner, Christie Struckman, and I develop the EPIC framework, which will be part of our contribution (not just to IT/Tech) to the going progress toward diversity, inclusion and (pay) equity.