Football pay equity lawsuit settlement draws attention to simmering workplace issue
Last week’s $24 million settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation over a lawsuit over unequal pay for players on the women’s team made national headlines and renewed attention to a simmering problem in the workplace.
CNBC reported that “the historic settlement was announced on Tuesday, years after a group of five players from the United States Women’s National Team filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission on job for unequal pay and treatment. Under the terms of the settlement, US Soccer will pay men and women an equal rate going forward in all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup.
Pay equity is certainly not a new issue on another kind of playing field: the corporate workplace.
According to a Payscale report:
- In 2021, women earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. When men and women with the same job characteristics hold similar jobs, the women still earn 2 cents less than an equivalent man.
- Assessing lifetime earnings offers a broader picture of economic gender and racial disparity in the United States. Even a question of being within pennies of a dollar can mean tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 40-year career. For women of certain racial ethnic groups, catching up with men’s earnings would mean working two or more extra years.
- Equal pay for equal work is not a reality for many people of color. When we control for education, years of experience, occupation, and other compensable factors, most men and women of color still earn less than white men.
Renewed focus on the workplace
Pay equity issues, which can create crisis situations for businesses and organizations – such as the lawsuit against US Soccer – are expected to be front and center for a growing number of employers in 2022.
A new survey from Payscale found that 66% of employers plan to address pay equity this year, a 20% increase from 2021. More than half said they plan to conduct pay equity analysis. pay equity based on gender or race, the highest this measure has been in the survey’s 13-year history.
In other major discoveries:
- 38% of organizations said they were doing something to close their pay gaps.
- 36% of respondents knew their gender pay gap
- 29% knew their racial pay gap.
- 9% of respondents said they wouldn’t do an equity analysis “because executives think pay gaps are nonsense.”
the 2022 Compensation Best Practices Survey collected responses between November 2021 and January 2022 from 5,578 respondents.
Tara Jaye Frank is an equity consultant, strategist and author of The Waymakers: Leading the way to workplace equity with skill and confidence. She observed that “employees are demanding greater transparency around compensation, opportunities and employee commitment to equity. This forces companies to decide whether they will take control of their fairness narrative by providing information voluntarily now, or whether they will be controlled later when transparency is no longer voluntary.
“Great companies learn that even if their data isn’t where they want it, trust is built through transparency, an expressed commitment to progress and accountability,” Frank noted.
Advice for entrepreneurs
She said, “There are a growing number of tools that offer employees a channel to publicly share information about their employee experience, including compensation.
“Companies always have the opportunity to write their own story about their current state and put that story in the context of their choosing. By clarifying their aspiration for fairness and openly sharing plans to achieve it, they can anchor current data and do two things: mitigate the reputational risk associated with it and hold themselves accountable for improving it,” advised Frank.
“Collect intersectional compensation data when auditing. Your gender pay equity outlook may be masking significant gaps for black and brown women, resulting in an unfortunate loss of the very talent you are trying so hard to recruit. Equity, or valuation, is most closely tied to intention to stay,” she advised.
“Compensation gaps are an even bigger problem when people feel overworked – the combination of overwork and undervaluation has spelled the death knell for various talent in companies.
“As employees have been asked to take on more over the past two years, paying people fairly is even more critical. If you find any discrepancies, reconcile immediately. The more time you give yourself to close the gap, you will increase inequality and worsen the wealth gap for all women,” Frank concluded.