Back in late 2015, I reported on proactive moves by Salesforce to do pay equity increases across its workforce to eliminate any and all gender pay issues, job by job. Here's a rundown from the post:
"In a panel at a conference organized by Fortune last week, Marc Benioff, the CEO of the cloud-based software company Salesforce, said that he recently ordered a review of all 17,000employees’ salaries to see if female employees’ pay was in line with those of male employees doing similar jobs. According to Fortune, Benioff said that the company is spending about $3 million extra this year on its payroll to make these adjustments. “We can say we pay women the same that we pay men,” he said the conference. “We looked at every single salary.”
Salesforce has declined to clarify the $3 million figure or provide further details—the size of the average adjustment, how many employees saw their salaries changed, and how they reacted—but is going to put out a report with more information next year."
At the time, I thought the move was brilliant, as it changed the conversation about workforce diversity to one of workforce equality - an equal goal that once achieved, was bound to change the narrative related to how much slack the world was going to give Salesforce for having some work to do on the diversity front.
Well, here's another reason to go for pay equity if you're a company like Salesforce - to keep the DOL from knocking on your door and playing hardball, like they just did at Google.
"In their efforts to bring wage equality to Silicon Valley, government officials have accused one of the tech industry's anchor firms of large-scale gender discrimination.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), available data suggests that women who work at Google suffer from "systemic compensation disparities" compared to their male peers. As part of an ongoing lawsuit, the DOL alleged that the company, a frequent recipient of federal contracts, has violated federal law by discriminating against female employees in the salary department.
In recent years, Google has reportedly been well averse to sharing such data with the DOL, which seeks to compel the company to disclose wage and other information under federal employment laws. Testifying in San Francisco on Friday, DOL regional director Janette Wipper told the court that the government had uncovered "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce" in its investigation of available company data from 2015, The Guardian reported."
The fact that Google's taken this DOL charge show's how brilliant the 2015 move by Salesforce and Benioff was. Not only did they change the narrative related to diversity (important, but so it equality, people!), they didn't get sued.
Did Google have the money to do something similar to the Salesforce move on pay? Of course they did. But leading means you're proactive, even when you don't have to be.
Well played, Salesforce. Good luck, Google. You'll likely end up making the same equity increases Salesforce did, but it will look forced and you won't get credit for leading.