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Using Human Connection to Fix Pay Equity For Good

Organizations need to step up and shine a torch on all areas of their businesses, even the dark corners, to uncover pay inequalities and find solutions.

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@criene via Twenty20

Unleash Your People Niamh Graham, Vice President of Global HR, Workhuman, talks to UNLEASH about how companies can leverage technology and data to boost pay equity and level the playing field for good.

  • Businesses that are outperforming others know their humans are their greatest asset
  • In order to overcome pay inequity, we must recognize employees for what they are – human beings
  • Data gives HR the power to identify red flags and move towards a more equal organization

“One cannot simply outperform inequality,” said the US professional soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, when she testified during a hearing held to shine the light on economic harm caused by gender inequalities. Rapinoe has been a World Cup champion, twice over and has continuously sold-out stadiums across the world, and yet she is still significantly underpaid compared to her male counterparts.

If it can happen to people like Megan Rapinoe, it can happen to anyone and gender identity is only one of the causes for pay inequalities. In fact, a recent study by Workhuman found that 1 in 4 workers have felt discriminated against over the course of their career for a multitude of reasons including age (52%), gender identity (30%), race (29%), political views (20%) and sexual orientation (9%).

It’s time organizations step up and shine a torch on all areas of their businesses, even the dark corners, to uncover pay inequalities and find solutions that will put an end to them. And organizations shouldn’t just be relying on the regulations to catch-up, it should be an inherent focus for all organizations.

UNLEASH spoke to Niamh Graham, Vice President of Global HR at Workhuman to talk about how companies can leverage technology and data to remove pay biases, inform their pay strategies, boost pay equity and ultimately level the playing field for good.

Human beings require human pay

One of the greatest tests of the last 12 months has been on our humanity. Bound by one shared situation, people and organizations around the world have had to work together to overcome a common challenge of the pandemic. As a result, humanity has come together in a number of ways, and social injustices like racism, poor mental health, and gender inequalities have come to the fore. We’ve witnessed a growing awareness that we are all connected, whoever we are and wherever we are in the world.

Human beings require human pay – and equal pay at that.

Workhuman is on a mission to help HR and finance leaders, as well as their own practices, to ensure not only that every person in their organization is paid an equal wage for equal work, but also that everyone is rewarded fairly, and without bias, for their discretionary effort. We’ve seen this also weighing heavily on the minds of those responsible for making decisions about equitable pay in our HR community.

Niamh and her colleagues believe that unconscious bias – and even conscious bias – is an inherent part of workplace culture that needs to be identified and addressed. While there is no simple solution for mitigating the bias that can lead to pay inequity, a modern total rewards strategy can be a smart step in the right direction.

At Workhuman, they believe that one step to bettering the workplace is to put the human connection at the center of work. They believe that now is the era for a human-centered approach and this is ingrained in their company culture, where they insist on treating everyone fairly and equally. One of their core values is “Respect for All” and this is also reflected in their methodology for certification, which is a way for Workhuman to recognize those organizations and individuals harnessing the power of human connection and striving for a more human workplace for all – one that’s fueled by social connection, diversity, individual empowerment, community, positivity, belonging, and a sense of meaning. 

Niamh told UNLEASH that the first step towards achieving an equal approach to pay is to shift your mindset towards recognizing your employees for what they are – human beings. Graham says, “When I think about pay equity, I think about human beings and that human beings require human pay – and equal pay at that.”

Data is power

Tackling pay inequality requires a rigorous, accurate understanding of what exactly is going on in your organization. This can only be done by looking at your empirical data and doing thorough internal audits to find out where the red flags are. Niamh told us how Workhuman does regular internal and third-party external audits to uncover actionable insights on how they are compensating and paying their employees. It’s important to note that pay equity needs to be a constant focus within an organization and needs to be redressed constantly to continue to improve and to continue minimizing the pay gap.

Looking at your own data – that’s the critical aspect of things. Auditing your own data, being true and authentic to yourself and your mission as a company

Organizations are often afraid to closely look at their organization because they are afraid of what they might find. But unless you take a close look at your data and what is really happening in your organization it is impossible to move towards a better, fairer future. “Looking at your own data – that’s the critical aspect of things. Auditing your own data, being true and authentic to yourself and your mission as a company,” commented Niamh.

Data, according to Niamh, can also enable transparency in your workplace culture around equity and demonstrate to your workforce that you are making conscious efforts to better pay equity. Even if you aren’t getting things right at this moment, being open and honest about shortcomings and plans to better these through figures and data can bolster colleagues to appreciate that change is afoot and equity is being worked on. Workhuman also uses technology and data where they collect information from continuous check-ins and conversations around employees’ developmental journeys and create reports on this information that is inter-related to compensation.

Niamh told UNLEASH that in addition to considering market adjustment data within their remuneration planning, HR and finance leaders need to be using data to be able to forecast if any adjustments are going to be made.

Recognition is the future of compensation

Just looking at your current data might not be enough to get a full view of your company. In order to really understand what is fair and equal, you need to extend the range of data points that you examine. Workhuman’s social recognition tool breaks down hierarchal structures of recognition and takes a crowdsourced approach with more peer-to-peer reviews. This reduces the reliance on one single relationship and gives a more accurate, reliable view of where inequalities lie.

“Recognition is a very agile, modern, future way of compensation,” said Niamh. Not only does social recognition uncover pay inequalities it also builds authentic, meaningful relationships which drive purpose in the workplace and leave employees feeling more engaged, connected, and fulfilled.

These tools have enabled Workhuman, and the companies they work with, to create a difference to their culture and change the relationship between employee and employer for the better.

See more from Workhuman and UNLEASH here.

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