To do the same job in the U.S, women are paid about 83% of what men are. This has mostly stayed the same over the last decade. There have been a few suggestions to help change the problem. None has worked. However, Microsoft’s effort at improving the percentage has been met with some success. The median pay for women is 90% of what men make to do the same job, according to its Diversity & Inclusion Report.
The lesson from the Microsoft effort is that it can work if companies seriously try to improve women’s pay. The report lists several initiatives, and it is clear senior management must make them part of their regular work. Executives are held accountable for including women and people of color in their workforces. And Microsoft makes it clear that evaluations of these efforts matter when the executives are graded.
The evidence from many other reports conducted company-wide, especially at tech companies, is that their pay ratios are closer to the national figure. It is almost certain that they don’t have serious management consequences if these figures are improved.
Across a much larger pool of companies taken as a whole nationwide, ratios are much closer to the national average. Otherwise, the “83%” problem would have changed.
This problem leaves open the question of whether the federal government would act to change the situation. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a real option. Efforts at a higher minimum wage nationwide have gone nowhere. Congress has blocked this effort for years. While pay equity would seem to be a basic right, cementing it in law won’t happen.
Because no national effort will work, the change will need to be at the company level. Microsoft has shown a company can at least make an effort and have some success.
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