Today Gen Y are 21-33 years old and 34% of the workforce. In 2020 those numbers will be 32-54 and 56%. That’s a big change in workplace demographics.
Between now and then most of the “old guard” --- today’s top management --- will have retired. This will also be a big change. So what about Compensation? Will it change as well?
Let’s take the gender pay gap issue. A recent survey by Pew in December, 2013 shows pay for women is 93% of men in the 25-34 age group versus 84% in the total workforce. So the gap seems to be closing for younger women, but then they are not as far into their careers as older women.
There are a lot of theories about the pay gap but there's no space to go into that here. Suffice it to say that once all the obvious factors have been accounted for, there is still a gap that cannot be explained. I suggest it may be because of the views that older Boomer men have of working women.
As a Boomer I remember that mothers didn’t work outside the home. The few that did, worked only until they married and occupations were limited to nurses, teachers, librarians and secretaries.
Boys were told by their parents they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up. Discussions with girls revolved around marriage and taking care of a household and children.
As these Boomer boys grew older, started working and were promoted into management, they carried their traditional beliefs with them and that affected their attitudes towards working women.
Let’s look at the difference in how Gen Y were raised. Most were raised in households where both parents worked. Given that, boys and girls reared by a working mother entered the workforce with more egalitarian attitudes than those reared in traditional families. Girls were told they could be anything they wanted to be --- like the boys. There are more differences, but space does not allow details.
As Gen Y women moved into the workplace, Boomer management viewed them as eventual mothers and hesitated to encourage their careers thinking they would end up quitting their jobs.
Companies did make some adjustments by creating maternity leave, part-time jobs and allowing flexible working. However, these arrangements often caused women to miss out on vital career experience, pay and promotions.
Oddly enough, Gen Y men don’t view a career in the same way as their fathers. They remember all of the long hours their fathers worked --- as well as the lack of family life To them being a father is not about being an economic provider --- it’s about spending time with family. They want schedules that work around family needs --- just as women have been demanding for years.
So children and family life seem to be the “sticking point” with Gen Y. This is where Compensation comes in.
We might need to review Compensation packages and see if more emphasis needs to be placed on benefits. Out-of-touch policies that no longer fit the norm may need to be changed.
The fact is that the sheer number of Gen Y employees is going to require some changes. Until fathering is considered as valuable as mothering both the pay gap and the glass ceiling that women experience will likely stay firmly in place. This same glass ceiling holds women back at work and men back in the home.
Google has already taken steps. They increased family leave (women and men) from three months to five and made it fully paid. By doing so they saw a 50% drop in the number of mothers who quit. Others are also moving in the direction of offering paid family leave, recognizing that these kinds of family-friendly policies not only boost morale, productivity and loyalty, they also address the other factors that contribute to the pay gap.
What do you think about my “theory”?
Jacque Vilet, President of Vilet International, has over 20 years’ experience in Global Human Resources with major multinationals such as Intel, National Semiconductor and Seagate Technology. She has managed both local/ in-country national and expatriate programs and has been an expat twice during her career. Her true love is working with local national issues. Jacque has the following certifications: CCP, GPHR, HCS and SWP as well as a B.S. and M.S in Psychology and an MBA. She belongs to SHRM, Human Capital Institute and World at Work. Jacque has been a speaker in the U.S., Asia and Europe, and is a regular contributor to various HR and talent management publications.