Fighting the Gender Pay Gap with Transparency
Over the last few years, Glassdoor has dedicated itself to conducting research and providing tools to help employees and employers contribute to the closing of the gender pay gap. While there’s still progress to be made, transparency and data-driven research have played key roles in addressing pay inequality.
The gender pay gap has been an important topic this past decade; many public figures promoted awareness of the issue and advocated for pay equality. Even so, women today are still earning around 20% less than men. The problem has received global attention, but how much progress has actually been made?
It’s questions like this that leading economics expert Andrew Chamberlain, Ph.D., seeks to answer through his research. When he joined job and company review platform Glassdoor in 2014 as Chief Economist, “Glassdoor was essentially still a startup, but they had all of these invaluable reviews and so much detailed information about real-life working conditions.” He thought that, “that information, if used in the right way, could have a genuinely positive impact on society as a whole.”
The challenge was to find a way for the company to enter a conversation and make an impact. Glassdoor was relatively small and had little credibility at that time, so the company needed to come up with a plan that would get its voice heard.
From its start, Glassdoor has been a proud advocate for increasing workplace transparency. It was among the earliest organizations to promote the importance of equal pay—within a year of its founding, the site had published full salary reviews of over 250 companies.
To Dr. Chamberlain, the gender pay gap seemed like the perfect topic for Glassdoor to tackle.
“Company leaders, politicians, celebrities, and many others have called for an end to the gender pay gap, so we decided to use Glassdoor’s fundamental philosophy of transparency as an entry point for a comprehensive study on the issue.”
Glassdoor published a detailed and unprecedented economic study in 2016. The results irrefutably confirmed that the gender pay gap was real. Men earned more than women in every country they examined—even at the same company with the same job title and similar education and experience. Based on more than 505,000 salaries shared by full-time U.S. employees on Glassdoor, Dr. Chamberlain and his team found that, in 2016, men earned on average 24.1% higher base pay than women.
The study positioned Glassdoor near the center of the conversation on gender pay differences. To generate more buzz and push the conversation further, Glassdoor organized a roundtable event with leading female campaigners.
On April 12, 2016, Equal Pay Day, Glassdoor hosted the roundtable event in New York City. The event focused on discussing solutions to the gender pay gap problem and featured then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe as speakers. The discussions led to a unanimous agreement that the key to eliminating the gender pay gap was salary transparency, which has been shown to attract more female applicants, improve job matching, shorten periods of unemployment, and even boost productivity in the workplace.
“Company leaders, politicians, celebrities, and more have called for an end to the gender pay gap. “
Glassdoor’s Chief Economist,
Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.
“That’s why organizations like Glassdoor are important,” said Clinton. “Because you promote transparency. That is really at the root of what we’re going to be having to advocate for and what we secure.”
As a leader in workplace transparency, Glassdoor was motivated to translate the outcomes of the study and roundtable into concrete action. The company started developing tools like a free-to-use equal pay assessment app, and published guides for employers and employees to learn how to analyze gender pay gaps at their own companies.
Hillary Clinton calls for closing the wage gap at Glassdoor’s round table event for Equal Pay Day
In 2019, after joining Recruit Group, Glassdoor published a follow-up study with updated metrics on the development of the gender pay gap problem. Among other findings, the study showed that in the U.S., the gap had shrunk to 21.4%—a 2.7% change over three years.
“Although this is a promising sign that progress has been made, it should not detract from the larger fact that significant pay gaps remain around the world,” said Dr. Chamberlain. He and his team continue to examine Glassdoor’s data in the hopes of discovering more insights that could help propel society forward. “It’s great that we have many articles citing our study, but the problem still has many challenges that we have to continue to find ways to overcome.”
The campaign for pay equality and transparency is ongoing, and sustained action from businesses, governments, and individuals is still required in order to further close the gap.
“A tighter labor market and greater awareness of pay gaps will keep encouraging smarter dialogue on how to promote pay equality across the board,” said Dr. Chamberlain. “We have to continue to work hard and to broaden our focus to include other concerns if we really want to make a change.”
Soccer World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe summed up the urgency of the matter when she spoke at the 2016 roundtable: “Take action now; stand up and don’t accept something you know in your heart to be unequal.”