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Blog: 5 Tips for Conducting a Membership Pay Equity Study

5 Tips for Conducting a Membership Pay Equity Study

What is a pay equity study?

A pay equity study analyzes pay according to demographic information about gender and race. It is a specialized version of a compensation and benefits study.

For associations, pay equity studies can offer a multi-faceted opportunity:

  • Their member companies may be concerned with pay equity issues but often need more expertise or resources to assess the problem independently. 
  • Pay equity studies can help member companies look more clearly at their behavior around pay equity and take steps to address them before they become more serious legal or public relations problems.

How do you conduct a pay equity study?

1. Let your members lead the way.

To help your members address the topic of pay equity, the best way to start is to form a benchmarking committee of members or stakeholders to focus on the issue. It’s essential to include a good representation of your membership in general on that committee. In particular, make sure to solicit the involvement of some of your larger members and representatives of various important segments within your membership.

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2. Consider working with a fiduciary partner.

Issues of pay and pay equity, in particular, are extremely sensitive. Many companies are understandably hesitant to be completely forthcoming about such a sensitive topic. You can help your cause by engaging with a trusted third party to gather and analyze the information. Member companies are typically more comfortable interacting with a fiduciary regarding sensitive financial information. So even if your staff has the expertise to conduct the survey in-house, using a third-party fiduciary may still benefit you.

3. Be transparent with your stakeholders.

Because of the sensitive nature of the study, communicate early and often with your members about what you’re doing. As you move forward, speak to any members who have expressed an interest in participating about how you will protect their information and ensure that their responses remain anonymous. You also want to get the buy-in of your participating member companies’ management, as well as the management of your association.

4. Make sure your HR function is centrally involved.

It’s neither simple nor easy to interpret the results of a pay equity study — let alone know what to do next. Likewise, determining the best solution is often more complicated than one might think. For example, it’s one thing to determine that there is an inequity in pay but another thing entirely to understand the drivers causing that inequity. For all these reasons, it’s beneficial to have your HR staff engaged in helping to analyze the data and determine how to share it with members.

5. Take the time to plan and implement your study effectively.

When surveying members, we often recommend using a “reverse engineeringapproach. In this case, start by having your steering committee identify the types of data and analysis that would be most useful to members. Also, think about how you will share the data and the findings with members. In our experience, one of the most effective solutions is to create online dashboards, discreet resources that member companies can use to view their results and compare them with other companies in their industry. There may also be opportunities to generate non-dues revenue from the survey — for example, by allowing members to pay a fee for customized reports or other options.

Benefits of conducting a pay equity study

Conducting a pay equity study can be a powerful way for an association to serve the needs of its members.

  • HR professionals in your member companies are always looking for relevant data to help them understand where their organizations stand regarding pay equity and what, if anything, they need to do in response.
  • Armed with these insights, they can address problems, improve their brand, boost employee morale, and strengthen their ability to attract new employees.

Your association, meanwhile, can also benefit from leading the way on a pay equity study.

  • You make yourself more relevant to your members and help them avoid the cost and embarrassment that can happen if pay equity issues go unexamined and unaddressed.
  • They can also be highly visible, high-stakes undertakings, so proceed cautiously.

Contact Vault Consulting if you need any guidance or support — and best of luck as you move forward!

Kendra Janevski, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Kendra Janevski, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Kendra’s varied background in non-profit organizations, associations and consulting is the perfect fit to lead Vault’s outsourced HR business unit. She drives creative process improvement for internal systems, designs forward-thinking policies and programs,...
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Ian Santo Domingo, MBA
Ian Santo Domingo, MBA
Ian has been leading teams in the association industry for over two decades, including a decade of leading auditing efforts for a tech industry event with hundreds of thousands in attendance. He embraces the...
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