SHRM: Most HR pros say women face pay discrimination at work

More than 70% of HR professionals agree that women face discrimination in the labor market, according to a March 12 report from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Although 75% of organizations regularly audit for pay equity, disparities exist in how pay equity is evaluated, the report found. For instance, gender is accounted for in only 80% of pay equity audits, race is included in 68% of audits, and age is included 62% of the time.

“Our findings suggest a strong awareness of pay equity issues among workplaces, while also uncovering a lack of training and unity among HR departments regarding this topic,” Johnny Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of SHRM, said in a statement. “We hope our efforts to bring awareness to this dichotomy will inspire organizations to take action toward pay equity among all demographics.”

In a survey of 777 HR professionals, 81% expressed confidence and trust that their organization pays workers equally regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, age and sexual orientation.

However, people managers are often left out of the pay equity discussion, according to the report. Although they serve as important advocates for equal pay, only 68% said they receive formal training on how to make business-related pay decisions. In addition, only 36% receive training on the importance of pay equity.

About two-thirds of women don’t believe they’re being paid fairly for their work in 2024, according to a Glassdoor survey, increasing from 60% of women who said the same in 2023. In addition, 43% of employees said there aren’t enough women in leadership at their company, which climbed to nearly 60% among Generation Z workers.

The recent trend of pay transparency can play a role in narrowing the gender pay gap, particularly during salary negotiations, although transparency doesn’t close the gap entirely, according to a study by University of Delaware researchers. Other factors, such as aggressiveness, competitiveness and social comparison, can affect how job candidates approach pay discussions during the hiring process.

More employers in 2022 than in 2021 said they’re addressing pay equity because “it’s the right thing to do” and to build a culture of trust, according to a survey by WorldatWork and Fidelity Investments. At the same time, 71% cited “mitigating legal risk” as an influential factor in their decision to pursue pay equity. Transparency is still an issue, too — only a quarter of companies share high-level results with employees, and only a third tell employees they’re doing a pay equity analysis.