Workplace Inequity is Increasingly on Employees’ Minds

A new report finds that current events and trends are much on the minds of employees these days and are affecting the way they think about their employers. Specifically, employees are asking for more from their organizations, especially with regard to pay equity. The study (conducted by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Analytics & Research Institute and based on a survey of 3,600 people in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Ireland) finds that men are more likely to agree they are paid fairly (70 percent) compared to women (61 percent).

“The forces shaping our societal landscape–calls for fairness, equity, transparency and trust–are driving an awakening in the workplace,” says Derek Irvine, senior vice president at Globoforce. The survey findings suggest employees are eager to make an impact but are less likely to stick around if inequity and “bureaucratic processes” get in the way, he adds. Other research has also found that job seekers are placing a high premium on how companies respond to instances of bullying and harassment.

The ramifications of inequity are certainly being felt today at Google: More than 1,500 employees there plan to walk out today in protest of the massive payouts the tech giant made to a number of senior male executives who’d been accused of sexual harassment, as reported by the New York Times last week. Google later disclosed that it had terminated 48 employees over the past two years for sexual harassment–none of those employees received an exit package.  The walkout will take place at nearly two dozen Google offices around the world, the Times reports.

The Globoforce survey found that more women than men reported not receiving any bonus. In the U.S., nearly two times as many men as women reported getting a bonus greater than $5,000, while three times as many men as women in the U.K. received a bonus greater than £5,000. Women are also less likely than men to feel safe speaking up in the workplace, the survey found 60 percent of women said they felt safe, compared to 70 percent of men.

Even women who work in high-status occupations, such as a surgeon, are less likely than their male counterparts to actively pursue higher salaries. A new survey from nonprofit research organization LA BioMed of approximately 400 surgical residents at residency programs around the U.S. finds that female surgeons, on average, listed an “ideal” salary that was $30,000 less than what the male respondents listed. Why? One reason uncovered by the survey was that female surgeons were significantly less likely than males to feel they “had the right tools to negotiate their salary.” They were also less likely than male respondents to negotiate salary or to look for other jobs as a negotiating tactic.

By undervaluing their future earnings potential, the women in the survey were potentially cheating themselves out of a sizable long-term sum. Over the span of a 30-year career, $30,000 less per year adds up to nearly one million dollars, says Dr. Christine de Virgilio, LA BioMed researcher and UCLA-Harbor Medical Center surgery chair.

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.