Amazon has prohibited its hiring managers from asking job candidates in the US about their previous salaries, Caroline O’Donovan reports at BuzzFeed, citing a post on an internal company message board:
According to Amazon’s message, which was posted Tuesday, hiring managers and recruiters can no longer “directly or indirectly ask candidates about their current or prior base pay, bonus, equity compensation, variable pay, or benefits” or “use salary history information as a factor in determining whether or not to offer employment and what compensation to offer a candidates.”
The instructions also explicitly ban the use of tools like LinkedIn Recruiter to estimate or otherwise ascertain an individual’s prior salary. According to an Amazon spokesperson, these rules were shared with all Amazon recruiters in the US, and apply equally to salaried employees like software engineers and hourly workers like call center employees.
This change comes in response to a wave of state and local laws banning salary history inquiries in the hiring process, including in California, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon, as well as New York City. California’s salary history ban, which came into effect at the beginning of this year, could have a particularly significant impact as that state is home to many major employers, including the tech giants of Silicon Valley. Facebook and Cisco have both announced that they will stop asking about salary histories, not just in California but throughout the US, while Google has already abandoned them nationwide.
As an early April deadline draws closer, reports continue to trickle in from organizations in the UK with over 250 employees that are now required to publish their gender pay gaps under rules that came into effect last year. The full list is available for download from the UK government and the press has been busy digging through it to see what the gap looks like at large, household-name brands, as well as to identify the worst offenders. Sky News reported last week that, as expected, most of the reports so far show male employees earning more, including those of some familiar companies:
Government figures show that men are paid nearly 65% more per hour at high street fashion store Phase Eight and nearly 52% more at EasyJet. Organisations with 250 or more workers must publish their figures by April, and so far 527 firms have done so. Nearly half of the organisations pay men at least one tenth more per hour and 426 of them pay men more, on average, per hour. …
Public sector bodies that show a wide divergence in pay per hour include the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham (men paid 34.8% more than women), and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (32.9%). Many of the firms in the top 20 in terms of those with biggest gaps are in financial services, including Virgin Money (32.5%), PriceWaterhouseCoopers (33.1%) and asset management firm Octopus Capital (38.1%).
In addition to financial services, businesses in the construction and information and communication technology sectors are reporting some of the widest gaps, the Financial Times has also reported. They add that a scant 70 employers, or 14.6 percent of those that had released their figures as of earlier this month, reported negative pay gaps as of January 1, most of which are smaller organizations working in health care and education. Nationwide, the median gender pay gap stood at 18.4 percent for all employees and 9.1 percent among full-time employees only.
Citicorp Headquarters (Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.com)
In response to pressure from activist investors, Citigroup recently conducted a pay survey of its workforce in the US, UK, and Germany, which found very small (1%) pay gaps based on gender and race. In response to these findings, the company announced on Monday that it would adjust salaries to close these gaps, becoming the first major US financial institution to do so, Reuters reports:
On average, Citi found, women and minorities are paid 99 percent of what men and non-minorities are paid, respectively. Compensation would be raised based on the pay gaps identified in the survey, Citi spokeswoman Jennifer Lowney said. …
[Activist investor Arjuna Capital] asked Citi’s shareholders last year to vote in favor of a proposal requiring the bank to address the gender pay gap. But on Monday, Arjuna withdrew that proposal, saying that Citi’s announcement represented a major shift for U.S. banks and credit card companies.
Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers Inc, has been using shareholder resolutions to push for action to address gender pay gaps at a number of large US companies, including other big names in finance and tech. Last year, Arjuna succeeded at pressuring Amazon into conducting a pay gap study, which found that women earned 99.9 cents for every dollar that men earned in the same jobs.
Roughly 40 percent of expatriate professionals working in Japan say they feel discriminated against at work on account of their nationality or gender, Chisato Tanaka writes for the Japan Times, citing a recent survey by Adecco Ltd.:
Responding to a multiple-answer question on what they do not like about working in Japan, 43 percent cited gender inequality. Around 40 percent said they have trouble with indirect or nonverbal communication with colleagues.
Asked how they see their Japanese colleagues’ performance, 80 percent said their Japanese peers are precise in their work. But 72 percent complained that there were too many pointless meetings. … According to the survey, 47 percent of respondents also felt they are not given equal opportunities compared with their Japanese colleagues.
Nonetheless, the survey found that 77 percent of respondents were satisfied with their current work conditions and 88 percent wanted to keep working in Japan.
Screencap/Times Up Website
On January 1, a group of over 300 women in the US entertainment business, including prominent actors like America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon, announced the launch of a massive, nationwide initiative to address sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault in their own workplace as well as other industries. Their effort, entitled Time’s Up, is a leaderless, volunteer-powered campaign to put pressure on employers to take action against harassment, connect victims to legal resources, and protect them from retaliation for speaking out about their experiences of harassment and abuse. As the New York Times’s Cara Buckley reported when the initiative was launched, Time’s Up is starting out with four key components:
- A legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women — like janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.
- Legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.
- A drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway.
- And a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black.
Central to the endeavor is a focus not only on the rarefied world of these Hollywood stars, but also—especially—on women who lack their power, privilege, and wealth, such as domestic and agricultural workers, who suffer extensively from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace but often lack the resources to fight back. The Time’s Up legal defense fund, which has by now attracted over $16 million and counting in crowdfunded donations, will be housed at and administrated by the National Women’s Law Center and led by Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, and Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued before the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
A new law came into effect on Monday that makes Iceland the first country in the world to explicitly outlaw paying men more than women for the same work. Under the law, the government must certify the pay equity policies of all companies and public agencies with at least 25 employees. Those that cannot prove that they pay men and women equally will face fines, Al Jazeera reports:
“The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations … evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally,” said Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.”It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally,” she told Al Jazeera. “We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap.”
From Pind’s statement, Iceland’s law appears to apply to role-to-role gaps, where employees of different genders are paid differently for doing the same job—as opposed to group-to-group gaps, where differences exist but are based on something else like title or experience, which is what media reports often mean when they refer to the “gender pay gap.” As we know from our research at CEB, now Gartner, these gaps have different implications, while the latter is much harder for employers to close than the former, regardless of government policies encouraging pay equity.
The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission on Tuesday unveiled its enforcement plan for ensuring that organizations required under new regulations to publish their gender pay gap data do so by the deadline of April 4, 2018:
The Commission’s policy – which is open for consultation from today until 2 February 2018 – explains how the Commission will use a range of its powers:
- it may investigate suspected breaches of the regulations by private and voluntary sector employers and offer them the opportunity to enter into a formal agreement to comply as an alternative to continuing with the investigation. Such agreements can themselves be enforced if not complied with
- it may issue unlawful act notices against employers who do not accept the offer of an agreement and who are found to have breached the regulations as a result of the investigation. These unlawful act notices will require employers to comply with an action plan which can be enforced through court orders
- it may seek summary convictions and an unlimited fine to those who still refuse to comply with a court order
Similar enforcement powers exist in relation to public sector employers.
The reporting mandate, which went into effect this past April, applies to all organizations with over 250 employees, who must publicly report any gender gaps in their pay data based on a “snapshot” of pay data from the year leading up to April 5. Employers have been slow to report, perhaps out of fear that attention to their pay gaps will harm their reputation and ability to attract talent. Among those that have reported, those that published suspiciously small or nonexistent pay gaps have had their data scrutinized in the press and in some cases amended their reports afterward.