Rest in Power RBG: The Fight for Pay Equity Continues

This past September the world lost a champion of social justice. A pioneer for women’s rights, someone who spent her life fighting for equity and making lasting change for those who came after her: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Notorious R.B.G., as I like to call her, was evidence that just one person can have a massive impact in making the world a more equitable place to live in. 

During my career, the conversation around pay equity and fairness has been of utmost importance. In the past century, we have seen progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Mind the Gap

One of Europe’s largest workers’ unions recently released new data that the gender pay gap wouldn’t be eliminated until 2104. Similarly, in the United States, recent census data shows there hasn’t been progress in closing the gender pay gap. 

It’s easy to look at these headlines and instantly lose hope. But what if we rather look at it as motivation? After all, these numbers are only valid if we don’t take action. Maybe we don’t all hold the power of RBG, with the ability to influence new legislation for the causes that are important to us. But no matter where you are, the position you hold in a company or in your own family, you have an impact. Whether we like it or not, our actions and beliefs influence those around us. As a collective we are powerful.  

In companies, efforts for gender parity start at the top and I strongly believe leaders need to be the change they want to see. For me, a key factor in reaching equity, equality, and fairness in the workplace without leaving anyone behind – is transparency. 

A Transparent Future

Culture has already shifted. We’re in the information age and younger generations are more likely to discuss pay details openly with colleagues. Platforms like Glassdoor and HM Revenue & Customs’ gender pay gap comparison service, too, are adding to the transparency trend. The demand is already there. So how can companies move forward in a more transparent and equitable way?

First, it’s important to recognize that by design we all value different things, have different viewpoints, and pay fairness might hold a different meaning from one employee to the other. 

For this reason, internal surveys can be extremely valuable to understanding what’s important to your employees. Internal equity, pay for performance versus role expectations, and pay transparency are all topics that hold different weight with each person. At SAP, our internal surveys have encouraged employees to share what ‘fairness’ means to them. This has guided us in creating clear frameworks that support pay fairness and inclusion. Here are some of our guiding forces:

·       Be consistent. Defining a clear reward framework that is based on fair design principles.

·       Stay objective. Fostering equitable decision-making by utilizing data, reinforced by continuous management training.

·       Be transparent. Encouraging a culture of openness is extremely important and can be enabled by user-friendly tools for managers and employees.

So what does putting these principles into action actually look like? 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Pay equity is defined as ensuring an unbiased and unprejudiced approach for determining pay. Focus here is on legislation and looking at equal pay for equal work. However, unlike pay equity and equality, pay fairness is a subjective construct. For this reason, at SAP we continuously evaluate pay fairness with clear frameworks, provide ongoing education for management, and aim to foster a culture of transparency.

Intelligent rewards are a big one for us too. Finding recommendations internally for individualized rewards and consistently appreciating employees with global recognition programs. Having team-based bonuses, with pay information accessible to all. 

Rewards transparency is always the goal, and intentionally utilizing internal anonymous surveys to validate efforts, and make changes as needed. 

One of the key indicators of a company’s willingness to support inclusion is if there is an internal focus on pay equality. Inclusion and equality in the workplace are no longer an option, they are imperative. There is a responsibility for individual companies, but also in how we think collectively as a society. This will shape what we fight for, what we vote for, and what ultimately changes. Remember one person has the power to make a difference. We can do this, together.