From positive PR to boosted retention: The intangible benefits of striving for pay equity

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Public Relations

Typically, pay equity gets billed as the right thing to strive for from an ethical, legal, and financial standpoint. However, what usually gets left out when selling leaders on audits and policy upgrades are the unintended positive domino effects that organizations often experience as a result. 

We are talking about the injection of motivation that comes when employees know leadership has their back, the talent retention payoff when inclusion sets in, and the innovation uptick once hidden talents are given room to shine. Let’s not forget the positive PR benefits too. 

Leaning harder into pay equity as a community experience vs. a routine compliance unlocks significant intangible returns that can deliver serious competitive advantages for companies across all industries. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

From positive PR to boosted retention: The intangible benefits of striving for pay equity

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Boosted recruitment and retention

When it comes to talent attraction and turnover mitigation, pay equity initiatives deliver a one-two punch. Carrying out an annual salary evaluation and upgrading compensation practices to promote fairness across demographics sends a clear signal that an organization walks the diversity, equity and inclusion walk—not just lip service. This positioning provides magnetism to top talent from underrepresented backgrounds during recruitment. It also boosts loyalty among existing staff that their employer has their back. 

  • Companies are seen as progressive organizations that underrepresented groups want to work for
  • Access to an expanded talent pipeline and applicant pool from previously overlooked or discouraged communities
  • Outsized retention returns from equity investments demonstrating inclusion in action
  • A more invoice culture that gives employees a sense of true belonging 

Remember, replacing an employee can cost as much as three or four times their annual salary (when accounting for things like lost productivity and recruitment expenditures). So it’s definitely worth investing in pay equity initiatives just for the retention pay off alone. 

Increased innovation from diverse perspectives

Here’s a not-so-secret benefit from committing to fair compensation practices: innovation potential goes through the roof when you open up leadership lanes previously gated off due to inequity. Think of all the cognitive diversity flowing into your brainstorming sessions once pay disparities no longer block people of different genders, races, orientations or abilities from reaching decision-making positions.

More lived experiences mingling together in the boardroom sparks fresh discussions and breeds new ideas. Products get fresh revamps from perspectives finally weighing in on designs that had previously been excluded. 

Even nuts and bolts processes level up when barriers lift and more voices join to poke holes or suggest improvements grounded in firsthand insight. The takeaway? Enabling more identities to help steer the ship results in a wider range of ideas, more creativity, and solutions catered to neglected customer segments.

Avoiding reputational damage

Pay equity is an important consideration when it comes to reducing PR risks down the road. By proactively addressing compensation transparency expectations now, your company can position itself well and build reputational goodwill. It’s much better to get ahead of these issues than deal with blowback later on if inconsistencies come to light.

No company wants to see their name trending on social media for the wrong reasons. While talking a big game on social issues is easy, real progress requires effort—even if incremental. Small, consistent steps show sincerity and can have a positive ripple effect when it comes to external perceptions. On the other hand, defending an unequal status quo is likely to attract criticism.

The goal is to be seen as innovative rather than outdated. While doing right by your employees is reason enough on its own, it’s also a smart business move. External audiences will reward real, demonstrable actions over empty words. A fair and thoughtful compensation structure isn’t just an ethical standard—it offers reputational protection in today’s transparent world. It’s all about avoiding unnecessary headaches down the road.

Aligning with socially-responsible consumer beliefs

Here’s another under-appreciated bonus that comes with making pay equity a priority: it helps attract socially-responsible buyers who really care about issues like inclusion and social justice.

Think of influential demographics like progressive millennials, vocal Gen Z consumers, and purpose-driven buyers of all ages who vote with their wallets. For these groups, compensation fairness isn’t just about HR software—it signals an organization’s true values and priorities.

Once again, brands that walk the diversity walk by digging into their pay gaps and improving parity metrics appeal to buyers seeking to support companies that align with their values and share a similar moral compass. 

In an era where consumers actively screen brands based on ethics and impact on marginalized communities, progress made towards equitable compensation keeps companies relevant with an increasingly vocal and values-driven customer base. These consumer behavioral shifts make diversity and inclusion commitments more than just feel-good PR statements.

Wrapping up

Wrapping this up, the key takeaway here is that pay equity pays dividends well beyond compliance or abstract notions of “doing the right thing.” When companies get serious about evaluating compensation practices and making upgrades where needed, they set off a chain reaction of intangible returns that boost the bottom line in unexpected ways. Employees feel valued, morale lifts, and previously untapped perspectives flow into innovation and problem-solving. 

Communities open up, reputations improve, and brands better appeal to growing numbers of conscious consumers. So while compensation fairness is crucial for ethical reasons first, it’s also just good business overall—especially in today’s environment that increasingly rewards equity and inclusion initiatives.

Lucy Manole
Lucy is a creative content writer and strategist at Marketing Digest. She specializes in writing about digital marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and education. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking and traveling.


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