Salesforce and Google make news for equal pay issues

Last week, two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies made pay-equity-related news, but for very different reasons.

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April 4, was Equal Pay Day, recognizing the point in each year to which women must work to make as much as men in the previous year. The wage gap persists, though it's arguably smaller in tech, and Silicon Valley companies are wrestling with the issue in different ways. Two of the most extreme examples are Salesforce and Google, both of which made wage-gap-related news last week for entirely different reasons.

Salesforce announced it would spend an additional $3 million to further equalize pay for its approximately 25,000 worldwide employees. Google -- well, let's put off the bad news for just a little bit longer, shall we, and focus on the positive?

As CNN reports, "[Salesforce] examined salaries last year, comparing people with similar roles and adjusting for location, then corrected "unexplained differences" between men and women. As a result, 6 percent of employees had their pay raised. Both women and men received boosts."

This year's survey included factors such as race and ethnicity, and resulted in an additional 11 percent of Salesforce employees receiving a pay boost to make salaries equitable. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff repeatedly says it's "so easy" to close the pay gap using human resources management software "with a push of one button, every CEO in the world can know exactly what their pay discrepancy is between men and women," Benioff says in this video interview.

But it's not so easy, apparently, for some companies -- here's that bad news I was telling you about. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor accused Google of violating federal law based on information showing that systemic pay discrepancies exist within the company, The Guardian reports.

The Guardian quotes testimony from Janette Wipper, a Department of Labor regional director, saying, "We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce."

And Janet Herold, regional solicitor for the Department of Labor, told The Guardian Friday, "The investigation is not complete, but at this point the department has received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters …The government's analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry."

Let that sink in for a moment: "… discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry." In an industry already plagued with discrimination, misogyny and harassment, when it comes to pay, Google's among the worst.

It's sad and infuriating that pay equity is still so far out of reach for women in 2017. The fact that companies like Google publicly claim they're committed to issues like pay equity and equal representation and then allegedly continue these unfair pay practices is incredible hypocrisy. You have to put your money where your mouth is. If Salesforce can do it, why can't Google? Why can't any company? Or, maybe the better question is: Why won't they?

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