Closing the Pay Parity Gap is Top of Mind for HR Tech Professionals in 2021

Bonnie Elgie

We spoke with Leslie Collin, VP People & Culture at Unbounce

As the world begins a slow return to “normal” with COVID-19 vaccines and an economic recovery plan underway, Canadian technology companies face a new challenge related to talent recruitment and retention. From an HR perspective, the pandemic has taught us that employees can work from anywhere and still be productive.

“The pandemic has opened job opportunities outside of local markets and we are now competing in an international marketplace for talent,” says Leslie Collin CPHR, VP People & Culture at Unbounce, the world’s leading landing page platform with a workforce of over 230 people.

HR professionals must help companies understand how to remain competitive. The expanding job opportunities means the tech workforce has choices and to attract and secure talent, Canadian tech companies need to pay fairly.

Closing the pay gap — which sits at about 20% for gender equality and even higher for visible minorities and persons with disabilities — is a critical issue for tech companies in 2021. HR Tech Group recently conducted a diversity in tech survey among their BC tech sector members and found that there is work to do in key areas including leadership, technical and founder roles, where there is a lack of diversity.

Just Get Started

Most companies recognize the gender pay gap exists and want to minimize it; however, figuring out where to start and how to prioritize the work can be difficult.

Collin encourages colleagues saying, “While getting started may feel overwhelming, making progress is better than finding perfection.”

Every HR professional has the opportunity to make progress. Start with something simple like calculating unadjusted pay gaps, which is the difference between the average earnings of what all men and women make at a company, regardless of position, experience level, or type of work. If you can export gender and salary data, you will find the average women, men and non-binary salaries and this will tell you where your company is at.”

Take the Pay Up for Progress Pledge

Inspired by one of the Unbounce founders whose wife’s experience after the birth of their child opened his eyes to the barriers facing women at work, the company started looking at its own pay parity. Through their discovery process, a small pay gap was identified and the company quickly committed to creating equal pay opportunities. Their learnings also led to the creation of the “Pay Up for Progress” initiative. Launched in fall 2020, it raised awareness for the issue by encouraging industry peers to take the pledge to close the pay gap.

“The response from the North American tech industry blew us away,” says Leslie. “We’d hoped 20 companies would pledge and we almost tripled that goal with 57 companies joining our first cohort. HR can be a lonely function and it can be challenging to get buy-in and resources to make change, but many companies were invigorated by this initiative and excited to sign on.”

One of the key benefits of taking the pledge is connecting with the community of online support and the collaborative sharing of knowledge and resources. A free toolkit is available for download and features a step-by-step guide to help companies learn where they are in their journey towards pay parity, as well as how to set up a compensation analysis and introduce best practices for internal policies and communications. HR professionals can also learn from case studies featuring companies who’ve successfully achieved gender pay parity.

Sometimes companies are reluctant, and even fearful, to start working towards pay parity. It takes courage and hard work, but most agree it is also important work. Leslie believes one of the advantages of joining the ‘Pay Up for Progress’ community is in realizing you are not doing it alone. The collective impact and influence goes beyond individual organizations to the tech industry as a whole.

Starting important conversations among HR tech peers is one of the benefits of attending the Tech Talent North being held May 12 and 13, 2021. The virtual conference will bring the tech community together to learn tactical strategies from Canada’s most innovative tech industry leaders. The program dives into critical topics such as competing for talent, diversity and innovation, leadership, and engagement and culture.

The pandemic has caused many to work in a reactionary state but HR professionals need to shift back toward long-term thinking and planning for their company’s and their employees’ futures. Many in HR may be wondering, how are other companies managing? What new skills and tools are available? How can we work together and contribute to continuing to build a healthy tech industry that attracts top talent from around the world?

Leslie answers by saying, “By getting out and learning from each other, we can create change more quickly, think more strategically and do more for our people.”