Women in HR Are Starting to Close the Pay Gap

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

Human resources as a profession has been a traditionally female-dominated field. It’s also a field that carries low prestige and low pay.

HR professionals say this all can and is changing.

A gender gap still exists in compensation for HR professionals, but a survey by Namely, a New York City-based company that operates an online HR platform, finds the difference to be less than Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

According to the survey, conducted in November among more than 1,000 U.S. companies, women in HR earn “89 cents on the dollar” to what men make, Eric Knudsen, Namely’s senior analyst of people operations, told Bloomberg Law.

That would compare favorably with the general pay inequity figure of women earning about 77 cents on male workers’ dollar. BLS figures are less encouraging, however, showing female HR workers earning about 80 cents on male workers’ dollar, and female HR managers earning 74 cents on male HR managers’ dollar, as of 2016.

The discrepancy could be due to Namely’s smaller sample size. In any case, the company says “it is surprising that those in charge of making hiring and salary decisions are affected” by gender pay inequality at all, but that this gap should narrow in the future due to the spread of equal pay laws.

“There’s certainly room for improvement,” Knudsen, who worked on the Namely survey report, said. “But companies are becoming more conscious and are making efforts to close the gap.”

That women continue to predominate in HR is evident from the BLS figures, which show nearly three-quarters (73.7 percent) of HR workers last year were female.

Women often get into HR because they believe they’ll treated more fairly in that field than in other occupations, Jay Jamrog, executive vice president for research at the Institute for Corporate Productivity, told Bloomberg Law.

To continue gender equity progress in the field, employers must make clear that they won’t tolerate sexism, Amy Dufrane, who is herself CEO of the HR Certification Institute, told Bloomberg Law. The intensive focus on sexual harassment in recent months is leading to a broader, “marked change in organizations” when it comes to gender equity, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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