- Jessica Scott
Closing the Pay Gap
How companies are raising the stakes for corporate responsibility
By: Jessica Scott
In the summer of 1963, America was on the precipice of cultural changes that would affect every American for many generations to come. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial; women began to publicly challenge traditional gender roles and establish independent identities as described in the novel The Feminine Mystique; and America would mourn the 4th assassination of a president with the death of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. TX. That June, President Kennedy had signed The Equal Pay Act which abolished wage disparity based on sex. In the years following however women have continued to fight for equal pay and promotions in the workplace due to barriers that stem from sexism. Here’s how three companies have begun to independently advance policies and practices to help close the gap and propel the modern workplace into a place where women and men feel equally appreciated and inspired.
Example 1 - Publicis Groupe
In February 2022, French advertising agency, Publicis Groupe, announced that they will begin giving bonuses to all employees who have been with the company for at least two years. The company had been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and the closing of their offices because of COVID safety measures. However, in 2022 the company reported a 75% increase in revenue, putting the company back at its pre-pandemic level. According to PR Week, Chairman and Executive Officer, Arthur Sadoun, said Publicis would pay these bonuses as a “thank you” for their “outstanding efforts.” This is unusual, since the employees usually receive no additional compensation with their paychecks. The gesture follows one the company made last year when it re-paid employees that had taken a pay decrease during the lockdown.
Example 2 - Starbucks
In 2018, Starbucks announced that they had reached equal pay for all men and women that perform similar jobs. This follows the company signing the White House Equality Pay Pledge which was started under the Obama Administration. “The Pay Equity Principles we signed onto today – Equal Footing, Transparency, and Accountability – were created not only to help us but also other organizations and businesses seeking to eradicate the pay gap,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. Additionally, this goes hand-in-hand with Starbucks’s enacting paid parental leave and tuition reimbursement, two programs that weaken barriers for parents and women that go beyond just payroll policies.
Example 3 - McAfee
Just like Starbucks, CyberSecurity firm, McAfee, signed the White House pledge and is actively taking steps to ensure pay equality for its employees. “At McAfee, we defined
pay parity as fair and equal pay for employees in the same job level and location,” said McAfee Chief HR Officer Chatelle Lynch. After she was brought on, her first order of business was to bring in more executives that supported equal pay and programs that would benefit their employees. With this foundation, Lynch went about auditing the employee’s job codes and determining if any gaps were present for pay between positions that were equal. Upon finding any, she then went about correcting them. With the support of the CEO and board of directors, Lynch announced that McAfee reached 100% pay parity in 2019, making it the first pure-play cybersecurity company to do so.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis, the pay gap has remained steady, with women making only about 84% of what their male peers make. Women in the 25-34 age range make $0.93 for every $1 their male counterpart makes on average. While the law has been firm since 1963 about pay parity, companies must take steps to implement policies and procedures that will benefit their employees independently in order for there to be real change. While the steps taken by companies discussed above are positive, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what companies can do to have equal pay for both genders.
About the Author
Jessica Scott is a public relations professional living in Dallas, TX. Jessica majored in Journalism with a concentration in PR and a minor in Marketing. She is anticipating graduating from the University of North Texas in May 2022.