Inequality in pay between female and male employees is a reality in most industries. The gender pay gap, however, is a complex issue that is often misunderstood and misreported. People on both sides of this issue attempt to oversimplify it in order to either say there is no real inequality in pay at all, or to suggest that it is a problem in every single situation. The reality is that it is much more nuanced, and impossible to accurately discuss broadly. Instead, it is best to look at specific industries to see where problems may exist.
In this article, we’ll look at the inequality in pay within the HR industry. This is an especially important area since most people turn to human resources for solutions to pay inequality, but the fact is, this industry has a lot of problems when it comes to payday inequality.
Female and Male Pay in Human Resources
According to the most recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, female human resources managers get paid just 73 cents for each dollar that males make. Since this is looking at one specific job, it is easy to compare ‘apples to apples’ when it comes to the gender pay gap. If the typical arguments against the gender pay gap were true across the board, one would expect that the gap in this specific role would be minimal. Even when factoring in things like time outside the workforce due to having and caring for children, a 27% lower rate of pay is completely unjustifiable.
Number of HR Managers by Gender
What makes this pay inequality even worse in the HR industry is the fact that females account for the majority of the industry. The data mentioned above looked at 294 separate human resources managers. Out of those, 221 were female and just 73 were male. Given these facts, it is disappointing (though not necessarily surprising) to find that the pay difference is still so lopsided in favor of men.
The Irony of the HR Industry
Human resources is supposed to be the team within any company that helps to provide protections to all employees (regardless of gender). They are responsible for ensuring employees aren’t mistreated by the company, by other employees, or anyone else. Despite this fact, however, when it comes to inequality in pay, this field is one of the worst.
Other than the fact that it is human nature to not want to look at ones own faults, there is no clear indication on why the HR industry is lagging behind when it comes to payroll equality. In many ways, this field should be the easiest to ‘clean up’ since HR managers have easy access to all the necessary data. Of course, it may appear to be self-serving if an HR manager presents a CEO or business owner with a proposal to give females a raise of up to 27%, but taking the potentially challenging stances is an important task of those working in HR.
Protecting Businesses from Legal Challenges
One potentially effective approach that an HR manager should take when attempting to eliminate the pay inequality within this department is looking at the exposure to a lawsuit. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal to base pay on gender, yet despite this fact it is a widespread (though unacknowledged) practice in the HR industry. If female HR managers who are getting paid less than their male counterparts were to file a lawsuit, the liabilities that a business would be exposed to could be quite significant. These liabilities would include the obvious expenses associated with litigation, the potential settlement or judgement against the company, and the negative reputational exposure to the public. HR managers need to be leaders and remember that part of their job is minimizing exposure to this type of risk, and therefore must take the necessary steps to help their own company identify differences in pay between females and males in the HR industry, and address these inequalities in pay as quickly as possible.