Google tried to address the gender pay gap to help female employees—but it may have backfired

The gender wage gap is a very real and complex problem that affects women across all industries. And unfortunately, Google’s most recent attempt to curb pay inequality arguably ended up proportionally benefiting men more than women within the company. The New York Times reports that in an annual study, Google determined that it needed to raise the salaries of 10,977 employees in order to make sure that male and female staffers received the same pay for the same work. However, as The Times notesa higher proportion of men than women received pay adjustments based on the analysis.

Lauren Barbato, Google's lead analyst for pay equity and people analytics, noted that this could be because the analysis specifically "flagged one particularly large job code (Level 4 Software Engineer) for adjustments. Within this job code, men were flagged for adjustments because they received less discretionary funds than women."

Basically, the “evening out” may have gone the wrong way over all. false

Additionally, the issue of equal pay at Google isn’t just determined by one factor. The Guardian has reported that more than 8,300 women have proposed a class action suit against the company, claiming that they were underpaid for their work. One plaintiff in the suit, Kelly Ellis, alleges that she was hired for a lower-level position (with a lower salary) than male colleagues with the same or less experience. Barbato noted that Google will be “undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees.” false false

James Finberg, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the class-action suit, told Wired that analyses of the company’s payroll data show that women are being paid less.

"It is very disappointing that, instead of addressing the real gender pay inequities adverse to women, Google has decided to increase the compensation of 8,000 male software engineers," Finberg told Wired. 

At the end of the day, fixing the gender pay gap is a nuanced and complex issue, one that unfortunately doesn’t have an easy or clear-cut solution—especially in large corporations like Google. However, it’s well worth the fight, and we can’t wait for the day when gender-based pay disparities are a thing of the distant past.

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