Gender discrimination in the workplace has been a topic of discussion for decades. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 theoretically means that men and women must be paid equal amounts (a primary concern when it comes to gender-based discrimination), yet hiring discrepancies and pay discrepancies remain—so this topic continues to be in discussion at the regulatory level and in workplaces across the nation.
This year in particular, several measures have been enacted at the state level that are aimed squarely at reducing the prevalence of gender-based discrimination in the workplace. For example, both California and New York’s Equal Pay Acts went into effect in January 2016. Another example is that Massachusetts passed a law that will ban the practice of asking for salary history during the hiring process. The theory is that systemic lower pay gets reinforced when employers ask for salary history and base new salary decisions on what they discover.
That said, pay is just one aspect of gender discrimination. There’s also the issue of gender discrimination that results in unequal representation across genders in some workplaces, industries, and levels within organizations. Organizations need to address multiple aspects of this issue simultaneously. Employers need to ensure that all genders are represented at all levels in the organization and also make sure equity exists in pay, benefits, and opportunities.
How Recruiters Can Eliminate Gender Discrimination in Hiring
Studies have shown that workplaces that embrace diversity (including gender diversity) perform better on average than those that don’t, and many employers are trying to do exactly that.
For any employer or recruiter trying to eliminate gender discrimination in the hiring process, there are actually a lot of things you have control over that can make a big impact and help the organization take steps toward that goal. Here are a few examples:
- Ensure that pay rates are set by role and not by the applicant’s salary history. Setting pay rates based on the applicant’s salary history only serves to reinforce past salary inadequacies that may have been gender-based.
- Train the entire hiring team on how to combat bias in the hiring process. There are unconscious biases we all harbor, even without intending to do so. We must actively work to ensure we do not allow these inherent biases to cloud our judgment during the hiring process. Training can help.
- Also train the entire hiring team on avoiding discriminatory questions during the interview process. This one may seem obvious, but it’s unfortunately quite easy to inadvertently ask a potentially discriminatory question—it could even come up as small talk, such as asking about an applicant’s family while you’re getting to know the person. Everyone involved in the recruiting process needs to understand this and understand how to avoid mistakenly (or intentionally) asking such questions.
- If you have influence beyond the recruiting process, work with the rest of the HR team to conduct pay audits and make amends where inappropriate differences are found. This can help reduce gender discrimination beyond just hiring.
This list is just the beginning. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at even more ways that the recruiting and hiring team can work toward reducing gender discrimination in the recruiting and hiring process.