With determination and a genuine buy-in from top leaders, Karine Aubry and her HR team have been successful in “officially closing” the gender pay gap at her tech firm.
Aubry, chief people officer at Dailymotion, a Paris-based video streaming services company with a U.S. office in New York City, spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about how the organization took on pay disparity, why flexibility is critical and the importance of long-term thinking.
Can you tell us more about the initiative at Dailymotion to close the gender pay gap?
After finding out at the end of 2019 that women at Dailymotion earned an average of 6 percent less than men, we committed to closing this gap. We decided to define “equal pay for equal work” as “equal responsibilities.” We broke down our jobs into larger occupational categories with a ladder from junior to senior VP, and assigned a salary band for each level and skillset for each country. This wasn’t a new concept for Dailymotion; we had already used this framework for talent acquisition, as well as promotions. But there was something missing: a gender analysis to challenge the fairness of our decisions.
We allocated 0.4 percent of our gross wages to close the gender pay gap, but it wasn’t enough. While our efforts did successfully reduce the gap to 4 percent, they were ultimately hindered by attrition, new hires and regular promotions. When assessing the required budget at the end of 2020, we learned the gender pay gap had actually increased by a slight amount.
This was frustrating, but it didn’t diminish our determination to close the gap. We quickly analyzed the impact for each hire, promotion and termination. We also decided that for any event that negatively impacts the gender pay gap, we would identify the necessary budget to offset the gap as soon as possible. Last but not least, we planned training sessions about unconscious bias, challenged and improved recruitment and promotion processes, and collected as much data as possible.
Then, in 2021, we took our initiative one step further by doubling our budget allocated to gender pay equity. As a result, we lowered the budget assigned to performance increases because achieving equity—and staying true to our values—matters more. Our strategy worked. As of January 2022, Dailymotion has officially closed our gender pay gap.
How has the pandemic and the Great Resignation impacted these attempts to close the gender pay gap?
While most businesses have been dealing with hiring challenges over the past year, Dailymotion experienced its own Great Resignation wave years ago when we had to pivot our business model. Our attrition rate in 2019 was above 30 percent. This meant that we were losing a third of our employees and essentially renewing our entire staff every three years.
This forced us to rethink our employee value proposition and instead focus on our values and purpose. This led to our entire DEI roadmap, including—but not limited to—pay equity. By the end of 2021, our attrition rate came closer to 25 percent, a percentage we are willing to accept given the current war for talent.
What are your key takeaways for anyone who is trying to reduce gender pay inequities at their company?
Data showed us that equal pay for equal responsibilities is something that is quickly achievable. Our remaining challenge is breaking the glass ceiling for women and other underrepresented groups. We need to navigate the complex laws about discrimination and affirmative action to pave the way for more women to get a seat at the senior leadership table.
Our next move is to run an external audit about career growth inside our organization compared to our industry and see how we can create better and faster career opportunities for our talents.
What advice would you give other HR leaders to consider when putting together a similar initiative?
Let your values guide you. While pay parity is important to recruitment and is essential in attracting and retaining the best talent, business leaders should let their values guide their policies. What matters to you and your stakeholders? What are you trying to achieve? When you think about that, the rest will fall into place.
Form a plan and stick to it, but be ready to pivot as needed. A great plan is essential, but it is just the beginning. We experienced this firsthand when we learned that our efforts were not enough to reduce the gender pay gap at Dailymotion. Managers should be prepared to adjust as necessary as they strive to achieve pay parity.
The only way to know for sure if a strategy is working is to measure the results. Pay close attention to recruitment numbers as well as attrition, promotions and other details that can affect pay parity.
Remember that this is a long-term effort. You will need to gather data points to prove to your shareholders, managers and/or board of directors that the business is on the right track. It’s a paradox that HR professionals live everyday: short-term results are expected from us while creating solid platforms for the long run.