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Women — and especially women of color — experience large gender wage gaps that have remained stagnant for nearly a decade.  But there is good news.  Employers are increasingly taking a proactive role in advancing equal pay. This spring, the White House helped build the momentum for employer engagement around equal pay when it announced a first round of companies had committed to an Equal Pay Pledge. Companies who sign agree to play a role in ending the national gender wage gap by improving their own pay practices; at a minimum, this means conducting annual equal pay audits to ensure that the company is not paying women less and reviewing hiring practices to reduce unconscious bias.

Last week, the White House announced that 44 new employers signed the pledge– including large corporations such as AT&T, Mastercard, and Yahoo. This brings the total number of signatories up to over 100 businesses.

Employers that have signed the Equal Pay Pledge are using a wide range of innovative strategies to close the gender pay gap:

Buffer, an equal pay pledge signatory, conducted a pay data analysis in 2016 which revealed a gender wage gap – men’s average salaries were $98,705, compared to women’s average salaries of $89,205. Buffer announced it is examining its process for determining how employees are placed at an “experience” level, which determines compensation, and is working to reduce some of the gender pay gap that resulted from hiring more men earlier on than women.

Expedia, a company that owns several online travel brands, not only did an equal pay audit, but—importantly–disclosed how it conducted its audit, which took into account base salary, bonus and stock-based compensation, and compared employees to those with similar position grades, tenure, and geographic locations.

Many other companies that have signed the pledge have worked mitigate the role of bias in compensation practices by promoting pay transparency, shifting to standardized pay structures, and eliminating salary negotiation.

For example, in June 2015, Jet.com developed a compensation structure with 10 levels that sets all employee salaries based on position and eliminates the use of negotiation for new hires. Standardized pay practices like these help make sure everyone is paid fairly, including women and people of color who can be chronically underpaid as a result of conscious and unconscious bias and lower salary histories when pay practices are not rooted in objective metrics.

GoDaddy, a web hosting company, has embraced pay transparency with new policies. Employees at the company can now compare their salary to that of coworkers in the same position. Each employees’ pay statement indicates the salary level and range for their position.

As new employers sign the Equal Pay Pledge, we’ll be keeping an eye out for those who share their practices and are making a difference.

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