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Over 70% of HR Professionals Agree That Women Face Discrimination in the Labor Market, New SHRM Research Finds

Research reveals people managers, a vital advocate for their team’s pay, are less likely to receive formal training on how to make business-related pay decisions

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, March 12, 2024, America observes Equal Pay Day, an annual day of recognition of gender inequity in the workplace. As part of its ongoing advocacy for equitable and inclusive workplace cultures, SHRM has released its “Equal Pay Day 2024: What Happens in the Workplace” research as a reminder of the progress that still needs to be made toward workplace pay equity.

The study concluded that 75% of organizations regularly audit for pay equity. Despite this commitment, while gender is accounted for in 80% of pay equity audits, race and age are only included 68% and 62% of the time respectively. This highlights a disparity between demographics in how pay equity is evaluated and underlines the need for continued progress.

“Each year, SHRM recognizes Equal Pay Day by conducting pivotal research on how the issue of pay equity is being addressed in organizations,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, President and CEO, SHRM. “Our findings suggest a strong awareness of pay equity issues among workplaces, while also uncovering a lack of training and unity among HR departments regarding this topic. We hope our efforts to bring awareness to this dichotomy will inspire organizations to take action toward pay equity among all demographics.”

Key findings include:

  • The average American HR professional is confident about their organization’s commitment to pay equity. However, people managers are often left out of this discussion.
    •  81% of HR professionals trust that their organization pays workers equally regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, age and sexual orientation.
    • Although people managers are important advocates for the equal pay of the employees who report to them, only 68% of people managers are trained on how to make business-related pay decisions, and only 36% are trained on the importance of pay equity.
  • HR professionals were presented several different scenarios in which pay inequality may or may not have been present, allowing their responses to demonstrate the variation in how HR departments define and address pay inequality. The findings suggest that HR departments are less likely to take action for cases of pay inequality that don’t display a disparity between genders.
    • In one scenario, two female workers had lower pay than two male workers with the same performance rating. 91% of respondents answered that they would be at least somewhat likely to take action, with 76% of that group saying they would award raises to the two women. The remaining 23% of this group said they would evaluate other factors, such as experience and tenure, before awarding a raise. 
    • Meanwhile, another scenario featured four female workers with the same job performance ratings, in which two were being paid less than the other two. This time, only 66% of the survey population reported that they would be at least somewhat likely to take action, and only 57% of that group reported that they would give the lower-paid women a raise.

Read “Equal Pay Day 2024: What Happens in the Workplace” here.

Methodology: A total of 777 surveys were completed from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4, 2023. The survey was fielded electronically using the SHRM Voice of Work Research Panel to U.S.-based HR professionals working for organizations as paid employees. Respondents represented organizations of all sizes, with 52% working for organizations having 250 or more employees.

About SHRM: SHRM is a member-driven catalyst for creating better workplaces where people and businesses thrive together. As the trusted authority on all things work, SHRM is the foremost expert, researcher, advocate, and thought leader on issues and innovations impacting today’s evolving workplaces.  With nearly 340,000 members in 180 countries, SHRM touches the lives of more than 362 million workers and their families globally. Discover more at


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