How Can Small Businesses Address The Wage Gap?

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I was honored to participate in a panel discussion a few months ago, The Enterprising & Professional Women – New York State Equal Pay Day Breakfast. After listening to some of the numbers discussed, including the statistic that women average twenty cents less on the dollars than men in regards to salary, I couldn’t help but be surprised. It’s 2012, isn’t it?

In addition to my experience there, new findings based on an analysis of earnings data for full-time workers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that in 2011 the median weekly wage for full-time female workers was $684, compared to $832 per week for men.

How can small businesses help balance this out? At Advantage Payroll Services, I was able to take a unique approach to ensure equal pay. It helps that my VP of Operations is a woman and keeps this issue at the forefront for me. Every two years, we do a salary and raise comparison for everyone at the company. For those who have seen their wages/raises slow in growth versus male employees, we look at why. Was the lower raise performance based? Was this person given warnings that their performance was failing, and given every opportunity to turn their performance around? Has their salary fallen due to fewer hours worked and have we tried to accommodate a more flexible schedule for them? My staff and I strive to find and maintain a balance in ways that won’t affect the bottom line of my small business. It can be hard for a small business to keep up but our advantage is that we are more nimble than large companies. It can be as simple as letting a new mom telecommute a few hours a week so she doesn’t have to take a cut in pay or changing their hours to allow them to drop off and pick up their kids at daycare.

Do you address the gender wage gap in your office? How have you done this in the past and what’s worked for you so far?