OscarsPatricia Arquette sparked a much-needed dialog about wage inequality with her comments at the this past Sunday’s Academy Awards. When she went up to accept her Best Supporting Actress Oscar, she said, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

According to studies out of the White House, it’s been reported that on average, women working full-time earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.  To dive a little deeper into income inequality and wage gap issues, a Glassdoor survey found that two out of five employees (39%) do not believe they receive fair pay in their current job, with more women (42%) than men (34%) who do not believe that they are being compensated fairly.

Unfortunately, the disparity in pay is also especially apparent in healthcare. While nearly three-quarters of health and medical services managers being women, men in this field typically make 35% more than their female colleagues. As an HR professional in healthcare, you are in a position to address disparities and offer the sort of fair pay and compensation packages that attracts and retains top healthcare talent. Here are five things you can do:

1. Promote from within.

A study of male and female hospital executives showed that men were more likely to be recruited from outside the company while women were more likely to be promoted from within the organization. Employees promoted from inside your organization have a deeper understanding of how your company works that can very well be worth bumping their pay up to match their male peers.

2. Use compensation market data to make better decisions.

Compensation market databases, offer HR and compensation management professionals insight into industry pay rates based on a varying number of factors such as geographic location and company size. By taking a data-driven approach when creating employee compensation packages, you’ll be able to make informed decisions with proof that your pay rates are comparable and fair within the industry.

3. Don’t underestimate the value of nurses.

Forty-four percent of female medical managers had backgrounds in nursing. Nurses show aptitude in areas that include organization, communication, creative problem-solving and empathy. These skills translate well to the management sphere. Look for them when promoting nurses to management roles and compensate accordingly.

4. Educate about gender bias and frame it as a business issue.

A recent study, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that managers of both sexes are twice as likely to hire a man as a woman. The study asked male and female managers to recruit people to handle simple tasks, and even when applicants had equal skillsets —  both genders were more likely to hire men. To help balance the gender gap in hiring, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, the CEO of gender consulting firm 20-first and author of How Women Mean Business, suggests that leaders need to come to realize that in Western cultures, we have a “deeply ingrained, largely unconscious, and reliably self-reinforcing preference for a masculine styles of leadership.” And the first step to curb this unconscious hiring bias is to “make it conscious,” she writes.

“If managers are choosing less qualified men over more qualified women, the company is clearly losing valuable talent. Even if hiring managers are choosing equally qualified men, if they’re doing it in dramatically greater numbers (as the study above shows they do), the company is still missing an opportunity to build the kind of balanced workforce that we know produces more creative results.”

Healthcare talent management teams must strive to educate senior leaders and hiring managers about the issue of gender bias in regards to hiring and how to effectively and accurately perceive the different behaviors men and women exhibit in the workplace.

5. Offer more flexible schedules.

Studies of pay gaps between executives often indicate that those who come out on top are also the ones who tend to spend more time at work. This can often be difficult for women because of societal expectations put on mothers. To make it easier for employees with children to contribute to the fullest, work to accommodate schedules that can include children. This can include flex-time, four-day weeks, telecommuting options and after-hours work opportunities. By making it easier to schedule a full workday and removing some of the emphasis on 9 to 5 face-time, you can open up opportunities for talented candidates to get the experience that leads to higher wages.

The pay gap won’t go away overnight. It will take changes in policy, philosophies and workplace environment to change it. But, by consciously working to pay your employees fairly regardless of gender, you can do your part to level the playing field and make your company a paragon of equality in the workplace.

Are you interested in learning how you can improve your compensation market data process to influence your salary recommendations and adjustment decisions?  View our HealthcareSource Pay Data solution overview below to learn more: 

About Meghan Doherty

Meghan Doherty is a content marketing professional based in the Greater Boston area. She has more than five years of experience creating and managing content for SaaS companies in the healthcare and talent management spaces.