Gender or racial pay gaps, or wage gaps, are common today, but they aren't always intentional. That's why it's so important for leaders to pay close attention to each employee and their income, and to ensure there are no disparities.
Sometimes, workers don't feel comfortable asking for a raise. But it's your responsibility as an employer to pay your employees for the work they do and the value they add to your team. Here are four questions to ask yourself when determining whether or not there is a wage gap problem in your company.
1. Are highly qualified individuals making more than less qualified individuals?
Qualified workers typically understand more about the business they're involved in, and they should be rewarded for it – so long as they are leveraging their knowledge and putting the work in.
"Qualifications are multidimensional and not limited to years of experience," said Trent Blanchard, vice president of people and culture at SecurityScorecard. "Mastery of relevant competencies, subject matter expertise, and depth and breadth of experience are key drivers of level determination, in addition to years of experience."
If an employee went the extra mile to earn higher education or certifications, or has more experience in the field, their salary should be higher than a fresh graduate at entry level. They've worked their way up and earned it.
2. Are you keeping up with competitive rates in your industry?
Every industry has an average salary range, and you want to make sure you match it, or at least come close. Failing to do so will not only hurt employee recruitment and retention, it might also support a negative culture, breeding aggressive or spiteful employees.
To gain insight on the typical rates in your industry, leverage resources from investors, the Bureau of Labor statistics and platforms such as Glassdoor, said Blanchard.
3. Is the amount of work being properly rewarded?
It all comes down to the quality of work each employee maintains. No matter how skilled or trained someone is, how high their position is, or how long they've been at the company, if they aren't performing as well as the person below, next to or above them, then they shouldn't earn as much.
Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics, said to ask yourself if the right people are making the right amount of money for their track record and their role in the company.
"If an employee is fully qualified in their field but doesn't put in the time and effort to implement those skills, then it is obvious they may be paid less," he said.
4. Is there equal opportunity among employees of all backgrounds and genders?
Men and women of all backgrounds should have the same opportunity for promotions and raises. It's often up to management to ensure each individual is fairly compensated and has the ability to thrive within the company, said Kristin Hull, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital.
Also, Hull added, be transparent with your team to encourage open communication and the chance for each worker to negotiate or ask for a raise or promotion.
"We have salary bands for each level within the organization, with the level being defined by key competencies," Blanchard said. "These bands and level definitions drive compensation determinations to create and maintain parity."