…So today I read a solid piece (here) from Compensation Café Founder and Editor Ann Bares. Citing research from the Harvard Business Review, Bares demonstrates that at least some of the much talked about male/female pay gap is attributable to men’s greater tendency to negotiate for higher wages when starting new roles. With this fact in mind, several employers are opting towards greater pay transparency and more uniform policies around wages and negotiation – in some cases doing away with the latter entirely.
…I think that taking salary negotiation off the table in a bid for internal equity is a bad idea. Setting aside the fact that doing so hugely handicaps an organization’s ability to compete for (and retain existing) talent in the broader marketplace, it’s flawed because it starts from the place that personal advocacy is a bad thing. After all, as Bares intimates in her piece one way to remove the effects of gender on negotiation outcomes might be to socialize both men and women to negotiate for themselves from a young age.
With that said, doing the above is a long game play that will take at least a generation to change. In the interim, as HR pros it’s our job to ensure business leaders are doing the right thing when it comes to paying each individual contributor – male or female – in line with their performance. And this doesn’t necessarily mean paying or treating everyone equitably, either… because not every situation warrants this. But it does mean stepping back and considering how treatment of any given employee fits into the big picture. The impact of differential treatment on internal equity should never be discounted (and is sometimes untenable), but dismissing the need to ever entertain it entirely may do just as much (or more) damage to a company’s ability to compete over the long term.
P.S. I will write more about this later, but it’s just after 7:00 PM central time and I have an absolutely awful case of writer’s block right now.