Benefits and Compensation

Gender Pay Gaps—Which Occupations Are Worst?

Pat Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, was joined for the chat by Latifa Lyles, Acting Director of the Women’s Bureau (WB), and Jennifer Hunt, chief economist at the Department of Labor (DOL).

[Go here for yesterday’s questions and answers]

Question from Annalyn Kurtz: In what occupations is the pay gap the widest?
Dr. Hunt, Chief Economist: The detailed occupation with the worst pay disparity in 2012 was insurance sales agents:

  1. Insurance agents
  2. Retail salespersons
  3. Real estate brokers and sales agents
  4. Personal financial advisors
  5. Education administrators
  6. Physicians and surgeons
  7. General and operations managers
  8. Marketing and sales managers
  9. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents
  10. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

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Question from @SavanGroup: What current initiatives is DOL undertaking to achieve equal pay?
Latifa Lyles, WB:

  • Encouraging women to enter higher-paying career fields, such as science, technology, engineering, math, and higher-paying green jobs
  • Calling attention to the challenges faced by vulnerable low-wage women workers, such as restaurant workers
  • Working to promote the President’s proposal to raise the minimum wage
  • Working with other federal agencies on the President’s Equal Pay Task Force—the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, our sister agency in the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management—to strengthen enforcement of federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination in employment, including in compensation

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Question from Kristin: Most companies have a pay for performance system in place. How do you view these systems, and how do they impact pay differences between genders and ethnicities?

Patricia Shiu, OFCCP: When companies use performance to set pay, they need to do so without discrimination. Performance can be a valid basis for paying employees differently, but OFCCP will investigate and test any factors that a contractor uses to determine pay to ensure they are not tainted by discrimination. Where identified employment practices such as performance review systems show disparities, OFCCP reviews for potential evidence regarding whether the practices result in disparate treatment or disparate impact—including inquiring about evidence of validation and/or the existence of best practices to reduce adverse impact.

Patricia Shiu closed the chat saying, “… we are committed to closing the pay gap that denies millions of American workers the fair wages to which they are entitled.

Perceived fairness, or the lack thereof, is often at the root of why employees leave organizations. The idea of fairness also determines if an employee will make an extra effort to reach organizational goals or even the objectives of her own job.

For these reasons, it’s vital for organizations to ensure that their reward programs are rooted in principles of fairness to motivate employees from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures.

Don’t miss our webinar on June 4, when you’ll learn:

  • How employee demographics, organization culture, and geographic location are related to employee perceptions of reward fairness
  • How pay strategies, programs, and policies can be used to enhance employee perceptions of reward fairness
  • Whether pay differences enhance or erode pay fairness and employee engagement
  • The business impacts that perceptions of pay fairness have on organizations
  • How reward fairness should be handled in the design of reward strategies, policies, and programs
  • Common pitfalls to avoid when the importance of reward fairness is underestimated — or overlooked altogether
  • And much more!

In just 90 minutes, you’ll learn the key role that fairness plays in your reward program — and how to use it to your advantage. Register now for this informative event risk free.