As the financial services industry becomes more digitally-driven, it should be looking to accelerate digital literacy and technology enablement. As financial services firms seek out high-quality talent, they should be looking in the direction of both men and women. As human resources professionals chartered with people development, we should be looking to help all employees reach their full potential. All of these endeavors happen to dovetail very nicely into the effort to close the gender pay gap―faster.

In my previous post, I discussed the three essential and powerful equalizers―digital fluency, career strategy, and technology immersion―that can help women achieve pay parity with men at an accelerated rate. In this final post, I’m going to talk about the role financial services firms and their human resources staff play in escalating the closure of the gender pay gap.

There’s good reason for doing so. Not only does the gender pay gap hold women back, it also impacts businesses and economic growth in general. Skill shortages in the digital era and a gender pay gap go hand-in-hand. Because the financial services industry does not top the list as a career choice among college graduates, it has to work harder to attract talent. Garnering a reputation for promoting gender pay parity could be a competitive differentiator.

Here are four ways financial services firms and their HR teams can help women boost their earning potential:

1. Provide tools, training, and opportunities for women to apply digital technology to improve their work lives. Consider these statistics: 61% of working mothers say using digital increases their access to information, 50% use it to better prepare for meetings, and 49% say it gives them more control over when and where they work.

2. Encourage and support mentorships and advocacies that help women advance to senior positions, and partner with women in proactively creating a career path. Women tend to be less assertive then men in terms of asking for raises and promotions. Efforts to help them overcome these particular stumbling blocks will better serve them and the companies they work for as they advance up the ladder.

3. Provide ongoing opportunities for women to further immerse themselves in technology, including classes, job rotations, and job shadowing. Thirty-seven percent of female senior leaders studied STEM or computer science at some point, and continue to invest in honing those skills.

4. Work to eliminate unconscious bias against income parity for women. Unconscious bias is one of the most difficult challenges when it comes to eliminating the gender pay gap, as it cannot be easily controlled or governed through legal channels or corporate policy. Therefore, HR professionals play a vital role in identifying and neutralizing unconscious bias in recruiting, hiring, and compensation activities, in part through helping to develop systems that de-identify gender.

Firms that understand the drivers behind the gender pay gap, take steps to implement the equalizers that can accelerate closing that gap, and support women in overcoming barriers to equal earning power will be better able to attract and retain top talent while making a valuable contribution toward resolving a serious societal problem.

For more information on closing the gender pay gap, please see:

Getting to Equal 2017 Closing the Gender Pay Gap

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