Is Equality in the Workplace Ever Possible?

2022-06-30T14:01:03-05:00August 4, 2020|Opinion|

Equality noun. The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. “An organization aiming to promote racial equality.” Similar: fairness, justness, impartiality

Equal pay, for equal work. That’s what the law says. That’s what it should be. But no bill, nor statute, can legislate against inequality. Not really. Bias — whether implicit or systematic — exists in the workplace, from the board room to the factory floor.

  • Women earn around 80% of what men earn.
  • People with “white-sounding” names, male or female, are more likely to get a job interview than people with “black-sounding” names.
  • People who migrate to the U.S. are more likely to work in “unskilled” jobs than people born in the U.S.

(Source: Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality)

This is the tip of the iceberg. Millions and millions of people face obstacles in the labor market because of their…

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Ancestry
  • National origin
  • Immigrant status
  • Sexual orientation
  • and more

It sucks. But it’s real life. And it’s happening right now.

Pay gaps

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Inequality shows up in various guises. Sometimes, it’s subtle; other times, it’s obvious. But it’s always ugly. And it’s always wrong.

Sometimes inequality shows up in a “pay gap” — the difference in pay two people receive for doing the same job (or practically the same job.)

There’s a gender wage gap. And a racial wage gap. And an astonishing wage gap between U.S. citizens and immigrants. There are a lot of gaps. They all need closing.

The average gender wage gap in the U.S. is around 20%. This means…

  • If a man earns $100,000 a year,
  • A woman earns around $80,000 a year. (For doing exactly the same job.)

Economic inequality varies by state and industry and many, many other factors. But it exists, nonetheless.

How do pay gaps happen?

We know what you’re thinking… How can a woman earn $20,000 a year less than a man for doing the same job? It’s against the law!

Yes, but inequality is sneaky. Inequality bubbles under the surface. Inequality lurks and lingers and shows up in unexpected places.

Resumes are unequal

Resumes with “ethnic-sounding” names (names that don’t sound white) are much more likely to end up in the Trash folder. This is because of implicit racial bias.

Job searches are unequal

People from different backgrounds apply for jobs differently. Take someone following up with an employer after a job interview. The applicant thinks she’s being enthusiastic; the employer thinks she’s being too pushy. These cultural differences put some people at a disadvantage.

Benefits are unequal

Some employees don’t have access to certain benefits, such as healthcare, telehealth, paid time-off, etc. This puts some candidates at a disadvantage.

The whole recruitment process is unequal

Some employers have misconceptions/assumptions/apprehensions (tick one or tick all) about female employees, especially when it comes to childbearing. This puts female candidates at a disadvantage.

Ableism is a real thing

Some employers are ableist and discriminate against people with disabilities. For example, claiming that lifting 50-pound boxes is essential for a role when it’s not. Or not allowing remote work or teleconferencing. This puts disabled candidates at a disadvantage.

Closing the gap

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If the entire labor market is unequal, there’s no hope, right? Wrong!

We just need to close the gap. Close the gender gap. And the racial gap. And the immigrant gap. And all the other gaps…

Diversity training for everyone

Diversity training facilitates positive interaction by coaching people on how to work together. If employees are working from home, consider a webinar or video conferencing series.

Enforce anti-discrimination rules

Strictly enforce anti-discrimination in the workplace against all individuals, even people not (yet) protected by the law. Make the change. Foster better relationships. Don’t ignore differences, celebrate them.

Seek out diverse hires

Diverse hires bring new perspectives to businesses that want to change society. How to do it? Audit job ads, offer internships and roles to targeted groups or use alternative recruitment sources.

Acknowledge disparities

Compare the salaries of employees in the same (or similar) roles and acknowledge wage disparities. Close the gaps. Promote diverse voices on your blog and social profiles, which also improves thought leadership. (Use a content marketing solution to help you.)

Use an expert

Bring in an expert on subjects such as anti-discrimination, disability advocacy and gender equality. This inspires new conversations, reduces inequalities and improves integration.

Be transparent

Tell customers, partners, investors and the world about your diversity shortcomings. Apologize. Explain. Communicate how you’re going to make changes.

In response to the ongoing George Floyd protests…

  • Apple vowed to increase spending on black-owned suppliers as part of a $100 million racial equality/justice initiative
  • YouTube said it will spend $100 million on black content creators
  • Mastercard declared June 19 a holiday for its employees — “Mastercard Day of Solidarity”
  • Bank of America plans to spend $1 billion over four years to combat racial/economic inequality

(Source: U.S. News)

Use a socially-conscious content marketing solution to communicate future changes on your website, blogs and social media pages. You need to communicate these important issues properly.

Create a statement

Tell employees how you plan to make changes by crafting a statement. Don’t use the same statement you plan to post on your website or social media pages. Make it personal to employees.

Include the following:

  • Your plans for helping people from diverse backgrounds succeed
  • Accept previous misunderstandings of equality
  • Give examples of these misunderstandings. Be honest. Be specific

Again, use a content marketer to convey your message. 

Keep talking

Equality in the workplace is much more than following anti-discrimination legislation. It’s about making real, proactive changes that truly tip the balance. Understand that inequality exists. Review your policies. Invest in training. Change perceptions. Communicate properly.

Using a content marketing platform helps you improve inequality in the workplace. There are other benefits too, such as lead generation and better online visibility. Learn more here

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