According to CUPA-HR, “the higher education pay gap for administrators roughly mirrors the overall U.S. pay gap,” with female administrators earning approximately 80 cents on the dollar in 2016, compared to men.
But higher education leaders can ensure all their employees are paid fairly — regardless of gender — by developing a thoughtful compensation strategy that’s tracked and facilitated electronically, to ensure defensibility in the event of an audit.
“Salary determinations should be based on a compensation structure that is a direct reflection of market value, and that should be determined long before your recruitment process begins and before you become aware of the gender of your applicants,” said Heather Murray, director of strategic partnerships at PeopleAdmin, drawing on her 16 years of higher education human resources experience.
To support your compensation strategy, Heather recommends using PeopleAdmin’s Positions solution, which simplifies job description, classification and position framework processes, to “evaluate the position and determine its appropriate level of pay.”
Once you’ve determined the appropriate compensation based on well-defined duties and responsibilities, applying it consistently is key.
“I suspect the gender pay gap comes into play when supervisors deviate from the market value without sound rationale,” Heather explained. “If there’s a deviation from the previously determined salary, there needs to be a solid reason, like offsetting a change in the cost of living in the area you’re recruiting from.”
To prevent supervisors from changing compensation without a sound rationale, you can use an automated approval process that ensures the right people approve any salary adjustments.
“Most institutions have an extensive approval process, but Position Management can automate that process and clearly define workflows,” Heather said. “That helps you get an approval quicker and allows you to involve additional people so you’re making a more informed decision.”
And when any changes are made, they’re documented and ready for audits.
“You have to be able to show the journey and the business decisions that informed the eventual outcomes,” Heather said. “Capturing that information ensures transparency around when a decision was made, how it was made, and what roles were involved in making that decision.”
By creating a market-aligned compensation structure based on the responsibilities of the position and ensuring any deviation from that structure is well-informed and documented, Heather said, you ensure you’re paying “according to the position’s value, regardless of gender.”