Fifty-five years after the Equal Pay Act passed, women earn about $0.80 on the dollar to their male colleagues.
Progress on wage equality for women in the United States has been demonstrably slow in recent years — but a number of companies have taken matters into their own hands. High-profile companies like Starbucks, Apple, Salesforce, Intel and Adobe, among others, have recently reached full pay parity for women and underrepresented minorities in the United States. These companies are also taking steps toward creating a better workplace for women and minorities to thrive, advance their careers and move into more leadership roles.
“If you fundamentally believe that people are the most important asset to your company, why wouldn’t you seek to establish practices and programs, and have a principal that you should compensate fairly based on their contribution?” Donna Morris, executive vice president of customer and employee experience at Adobe, recently told Fortune.
Pay equity practices come from a combination of payroll audits, committed leadership and policies that promote equality and diversity in the workplace. In Adobe’s case, a third-party review of the company’s pay practices in 2016 found U.S.-based female employees were paid $0.99 on the dollar of their male coworkers. While not a stunning difference, it was still a wage gap, Morris said, and the company closed it by 2017.
“It’s not sufficient for companies to not address pay anomalies that exist between men and women or between ethnic groups,” Morris said. Adobe also closed the pay gap that existed for its workforce based in India earlier this year.
More recently, Starbucks announced it reached 100 percent pay equity for women, men and underrepresented minorities — ending a 10-year process to end pay differences among its employees. Back in 2015, Salesforce, a San Francisco-based cloud computing company, announced a $3 million initiative to close its gender pay gap after analyzing its payroll. After the company acquired several others, Salesforce combed through those new employees’ salaries to ensure any pay gap was entirely eliminated.
“Every CEO needs to look at if they’re paying men and women the same. That is something that every single CEO can do today.” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said at the World Economic Forum in January 2017. “We all have modern human resource management systems, but as a CEO are you willing to step up and say I pay men and women the same?”
In 2015 and 2016, more than 100 companies — including Salesforce, Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Intel and more — signed former President Barack Obama’s Equal Pay Pledge. The initiative required companies to review their hiring practices, create policies to ensure equal pay and conduct an annual analysis on the gender wage gap.
Recently formed companies are also taking notice of the push toward equality in the workplace. Companies like Rent the Runway, the online rental service founded and run by women, had equal pay practices from the get-go when it launched in 2009.
Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have also put the onus on companies to change their policies and practices to better create workplaces that value women and people of color. And equal pay, for that matter, will be expected from the future employees growing up in this era, said Jennifer Hyman, the CEO of Rent the Runway.
“Unless business leaders understand the future of their employee base is not willing to accept the unequal environment that has perpetuated in the past,” Hyman said, “they’re not going to be around in the future.”