Hill+Knowlton Strategies rolls out equal pay initiative

The firm will examine compensation data at the macro and micro levels annually and train staffers to eliminate unconscious biases.

NEW YORK: On the day before National Equal Pay Day, Hill+Knowlton Strategies is launching an initiative to ensure fairness in its compensation policies.

Launched on Monday, the firm’s pay equity initiative will examine compensation data at the macro and micro levels annually to make sure payment of men and women is fair. If an emerging pay gap is identified, H+K’s leadership team will adjust  employee pay through merit-based review cycles and practices, it said in a statement on Monday.

All agency staffers, with an emphasis on managers, will complete bias training to control factors that could potentially affect the advancement and compensation of women and other minority candidates.

The firm said in a statement that its goal is to "foster a culture where all employees are aware of bias and actively seek to reduce it."

Last fall, feminist activist Martha Burk, cofounder of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy in Washington, D.C., provided H+K with an independent audit of the firm’s pay data. While the examination did not find any "glass ceilings" at the agency, it did inspire the gender pay equity initiative, H+K Americas president and CEO Mike Coates wrote on LinkedIn on Monday.

He added that doubts about pay inequality can lead to low confidence, reduced trust in colleagues and leadership, decreased performance, and active disengagement from the job.

In the past two years, H+K has launched a women’s executive network, H+K HER (Helping Executives Rise), and H+K Inside and H+K Outside, a suite of policies and programs to support employees in their personal and professional development.

Coates contended that employee turnover has dropped five percentage points, with a consequential reduction in client losses, in the past two years.

"Retaining great talent is consistently ranked as one of the most difficult problems facing businesses," Coates wrote in his post. "By tackling these tough issues [such as pay equity], these problems can become opportunities – to maximize employee engagement, decrease employee turnover, and lead to growth."  

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