5 Steps for Small Businesses to Achieve Gender-Neutral Salaries

There is a salary gender gap and it exists in businesses of all sizes, from international mega-corporations to some of the smallest business with only a handful of employees. For small businesses, without legal and HR resources available for guidance, it’s very easy to go astray. To avoid this, there are a few reasonably simple steps to follow to maintain gender agnostic pay policies.


Establish a Clear Pay Structure

Definite each job that will be required including all the skills necessary to properly function in that role. This includes not just technical skills, but the soft skills that a employee needs to demonstrate to be successful in the role. Determine paths for advancement, for example, from an Associate Programmer, to a Programmer, to a Senior Programmer. These allow for advancement within a discipline, without necessarily moving someone into management. Then, after the roles are determined, determine the starting pay for each role. Perform as comprehensive pay analysis as you can, including local, regional and national market trends and pay information. Next, determine annual pay adjustments. Use objective metrics, targets and information to avoid too much flexibility in guidelines. If bonuses are a part of the business, ensure that they, too, are objectively determined.

Set Up Solid Criteria for Promotions

With the roles all documented out, this part should be easy. Document what it takes to get from one position to another. If there are 5 skills in the supervisor role and 7 in the manager role, document the two remaining skills and determine the skill level necessary to advance. Also determine how the promotion process works and document it. Is it at the employee’s request? Do they need their manager to approve it? Is there a committee? Lay out the process for requesting a promotion and for having one provided to the employee.

Communicate Clearly in Writing

All of this planning and documentation will be wasted without proper communication. The above information should be shared often and widely. Prospective employees should be aware of the information relating to the position they’re interviewing for, the documents should be available for review on internal sharing systems, and the whole thing should be gone over on a regular basis so every employee knows where they are, what they need to do to improve and what where they can go from their current position.

Practice Transparency

The above steps are important but straightforward and unsurprising. This step, however, is somewhat radical and is optional. Many small businesses have found a lot of success with being absolutely transparent with their compensation, including annual raises, bonuses and the like. While uncommon, this policy not only allows employees to understand exactly where they sit and how they are compensated as related to other employees, it also pushes management to stay objective, as subjective or arbitrary increases or changes are seen by everyone and may need to be defended. Larger businesses usually opt not to enact this policy, but it has seen some success in both small and large companies.

Once your business has decided to work towards a gender-neutral salary, it’s important to understand that the process will take time. Take one small step at a time and you’ll be there before you know it.

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