Practice pay equity to attract the best talent

This weekend Proctor and Gamble stepped in on the pay equity dispute in US soccer. It’s female deodorant brand, Secret, offered to help reduce the pay gap between the US women’s world championship soccer team and men’s team by paying roughly $23,000 per player.

Like many of their countrymen, the US women’s soccer team is bold, brash, confident and controversial—and champions.

Women in sports have often been paid less than men because their games generate fewer fans and revenue. But this reasoning doesn’t work with US women’s soccer. The US women have won the FIFA championship that the men did not qualify for, have a larger TV audience, and have generated slightly more revenue than the men.[i]

Why not pay them equally?

After winning the right to sue the US Soccer Federation in court after filing a discrimination claim with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the US women’s soccer team is now in mediation with United States Soccer Federation.

In business, you practice pay equity for equal performance between men and women because you want the best talent and teams and the highest productivity and innovation.

Studies published in the Harvard Business Review and by McKinsey and Company show that companies with inclusive and performance-based cultures have better innovation and financial results.

Another reason to have an inclusive culture is that there are more women in the workforce than men and they are often found in hard-to-fill, skilled positions. Women’s pay equity rates are getting better, but women still trail men.

Let’s look at the numbers.

  • Overall, the percentage of women in the US workforce has risen from 39 percent in 1965 to a peak of 60 percent in 1999 and is at 55 percent in 2018. The percentage of prime working-age women (ages 25-34) participating in the economy, as of 2018 is 77 percent.[ii]
  • The percentage of male workforce participation rate has fallen to 69 percent, down from a peak of 80 percent in 1970.[iii]
  • In 2012, the median hourly earnings for female workers sixteen and older were 84 percent of men’s earnings. However, the gap is smaller among younger workers, ages 25 to 34, where women make 93 percent of what men earn. In 1980, by comparison, the median hourly earnings for young women were 67 percent of what young men were paid, and for all employed women, the pay was 64 percent of what men were making.[iv]

If you are still following the pay practices from the 2000s, it is time for an upgrade.

You need to do more than practice pay equity to attract the best and brightest women, however. In addition, the best and the brightest will be looking for work cultures that are transparent about pay and benefits and career development.

Women will be checking to see if you provide mentors to new hires, paid time-off and paid paternity leave for men and women, and excellent onboarding.

Practice pay equity and create a transparent and inclusive culture and you will attract better talent and improve your financial performance.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults and provides hands-on support to improve recruiting and retention, cultures of innovation, and train agile leaders and teams.

Overcome your obstacles to these issues by subscribing to his weekly blogs. Watch for his book, Hack Recruiting, to be published soon.


[i] Abigail Hess, (June 19, 2019, 1:21 PM ET) “US women’s soccer games now generate more revenue than men’s—but the players still earn less,” CNBC.

[ii] Jeanna Smialek, “Millennial Women Are Winning the Jobs Recovery as Men Struggle, Bloomberg Businessweek, (January 13, 2019, 10:00 PM MST). https://

[iii] Stephen J. Rose, Ph.D., and Heidi I. Hartmann, Ph.D., (Nov. 28, 2018). “Still a Man’s Labor Market: The Slowly Narrowing Gender Wage Gap,” Institute for Women’s Policy Research (November 28, 2018).;. IWPR-Still-a-Mans-Labor-Market-update-2018-1.pdf.

[iv] Ibid.

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