Equal Pay Day may have started 13 years ago, but where has it gone since then? According to some reports, not very far. And that doesn’t include the federally-enacted Equal Pay Act of 1963.
In November, Bloomberg reported that even media people at various news organizations like the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal began sharing a spreadsheet that listed and showed the differences in salaries for seemingly similar positions. The union representing workers at the Washington Post also released its own findings a week earlier about what it saw as differences in pay at the newspaper, an assertion denied by a Postspokesperson.
Fatherly, an online publication aimed at offering advice to families and particularly fathers, reported that American workers are logging more hours at work today than they did 30 years ago. Three hundred ninety more hours a year is what they published. The bottom line, said Fatherly, is that families are being hurt.
It’s no surprise then that younger generations, starting with Millennials, have placed greater value on work/life balance and flexibility than older generations. What this means for companies wishing to not only hire replacements for retiring Boomers, but also retain younger employees, is reassessing and adjusting to a younger workforce.
Place instead of space
Companies that agreed to employees working remotely and/or working around a flexible schedule are reporting a more contented workforce. Another similar suggestion offered by Commercial Café, an online real estate publication are workplace gyms. Commercial Café said its nationwide survey of nearly 2,000 people discovered that 50 percent wanted an onsite gym while 34 percent wished they had standing desks. Another 5 percent expressed a desire for bicycle racks.
Commercial Café had other interesting findings, including the discovery that half the respondents wished their employers had rooftop or outdoor places in which to relax. Forty-four percent said they wanted nap rooms, while 52 percent wished there was more natural light in the office. One of the more telling findings was that 53 percent said they would take a cut in pay for more free time. Another 26% wanted onsite daycare.
Balancing equal pay with values
Based on history and the above results, companies need to step up their efforts to institute equal pay in their organizations. Their HR departments need to do a thorough inspection of jobs, job descriptions, and pay within and outside their company, then suggest and implement ways to achieve parity. The negative publicity over pay bias settlements against giants like Goldman Sachs and Dell can endure for years and have lasting effects—and even against smaller influencer marketing agencies.
Another study by Jennifer Berdahl of the University of British Columbia blamed a “flexibility stigma” as the reason many employees don’t take advantage of work/life balance policies at work, because of the fear that doing so would inhibit their chances of getting ahead. She went on to say the stigma is even greater today because it also affects fathers who could be perceived as “wimps” by placing family first and taking family leave.
Companies that have implemented work/life balance programs are a step ahead of those that haven’t. However, they need to take another giant step forward by promoting and encouraging this work/life balance as part of its culture. Articles in their employee newsletter would go a long way in affecting attitudes.
At the same time, HR should encourage refresher training for everyone in a supervisory role. This could help ensure that the managers are not only aware of the company position, but also embrace it.