Same Pay, Now

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A phenomenally simple strategy

The gender pay gap is a reality – although it shouldn’t be. But like other antiquated social constructs – it exists. We all know it. Most of us are embarrassed by it, and sadly, we aren’t doing enough to end it.

According to the Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques (INED) in France, the number of men and women globally is roughly equal. They say that out of every 1,000 people, 504 are men (50.4%) and 496 are women (49.6%).

It’s hard to find a stat that gets any more even than that. But still, there is a decided gender gap throughout the world – and we all know it. For those who like to measure with numbers, the difference is dumbfounding. In 2018, Business Insider gave us a list of the top 12 countries with gender pay disparity, and the numbers are disturbing.

  • Korea (25.4% difference)
  • Japan (24.5% difference)
  • Estonia (23.3% difference)
  • Latvia and Chile (21.1% difference)
  • Israel (19.3% difference)
  • Canada and the United States are tied (18.2% difference)
  • United Kingdom (16.8% difference)
  • Mexico and Finland are tied (16.5% difference)
  • Austria (15.7% difference)


On the positive side, countries like Iceland, Denmark and Sweden have emerged as leading nations by passing laws to ensure income equality.

Take a look at the divide and ask yourself if you are comfortable. I am not.

A single mom raised me in a house with three sisters. I have a partner who has a career. I have a daughter who is now working. I have aunts and nieces who’ve all worked hard all of their lives. That is why I am not comfortable. They share my skill level, work ethic and success. We are all educated and gainfully employed and we all get things done. So why should I have been paid more simply because I am a man?

My ‘aha’ moment – when I knew things were off the rails with the whole gender pay difference – happened after the birth of my daughter. I was called into my boss’s office. He told me how much he admired my hard work and dedication to the job. He was impressed that I only missed two days when my daughter was born, and he understood I was going to be coming into work tired a lot over the next couple of months.

And he proceeded to give me a promotion, a raise, and a bonus “…because you are a family man now”.

I still remember how pleased he looked and how mortified I felt. I wasn’t sure if the promotion, raise and bonus were for my work, or because I became a dad for the first time, or a combination of the two. Nevertheless I took it, all of it, and felt like I was walking outside of an episode of the television series Mad Men.

The phenomenally simple equal pay strategy

Years later, I had my first opportunity to do something about equal pay. I was in a position to hire. The idea was so simple and made so much sense.

When I hired a staff person, I published what the job was worth to the organisation and paid the best candidate. I didn’t care if they were a man or a woman. Twenty years later, I am doing the same thing. If you are the best candidate, you receive the salary for what the job is worth to the organisation, and you are compensated in future years by your talent.

If you are in a hiring position – stop thinking about gender and pay. Stop thinking about when women might leave the workforce because of pregnancy or other stereotypical nonsense. Pay the same for a job, and none of the other stuff matters. Everyone will want to work with you. People are attracted to fairness. Fairness is catnip for the human soul.

When people ask me how we retain our employees, I tell them my hiring strategy and encourage them to try it. But, of course, some do and some don’t.

I always will, and so should you. So pay what the job is worth, let the best candidate emerge because they always do, and you’ll make a difference.

This article was written by Rick Harris.

Rick has 32 years of association management experience, with the last ten years spent as the CEO of APMP. He is committed to the bid and proposal industry and has guided the association to a 100% growth in membership (now at 10,500+ members) over that time. With the help of APMP’s Board of Directors, Rick created Bid & Proposal Con EuropeTM and Bid & Proposal Con AsiaTM to promote professionalism in the bid and proposal industry worldwide. He is APMP Practitioner certified and encourages all bid and proposal professionals to join APMP.

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