Utah women earn 73 percent of what men earn, putting the state’s gender wage gap at 49th place, with only Louisiana’s worse. Many factors cause the wage gap, and many fixes–from many sources–will be necessary to close the gap.
The Utah Legislature has made strides by passing laws that forbid employment discrimination against women who are breastfeeding and require reasonable workplace accommodations for women who are pregnant. And this past session, the Utah Legislature considered two bills to further chip away at the gender pay gap–one that would bar employers from asking about salary history, and one that would extend unpaid leave to smaller employers. While they did not pass, similar bills will likely surface next year in light of nationwide trends.
Employers should first get to the root of the gender pay gap at their organization by gathering data through pay equity audits, as well as audits of other internal metrics, like gender composition of new hires and those getting raises. Audits are best done under the supervision of an attorney so that they are attorney-client privileged. Once employers have data, they can craft action plans to close the gap at their organization. It is advisable that some fixes focus specifically on pay inequities (like instituting a formal compensation plan to make sure women are not hired at lower pay than men for the same job), and that other fixes focus more broadly on barriers women face in getting hired by and remaining at their organization (like removing gender information from applications). Employers Council is available to help with audits and solutions for your organization.