Explore the importance of pay equity, how to achieve it, and its benefits for organizations. Learn key insights from SHRM 2024 on ensuring fair compensation and fostering an inclusive workplace culture.

Pay Equity: The Secret to Getting Pay Right: SHRM 2024

The issue of pay equity has gained increasing attention in recent years as organizations strive to create fair and inclusive workplaces. At SHRM 2024, an insightful session titled “Pay Equity: The Secret to Getting Pay Right” was presented by Kent Plunkett, CEO of, and Heather Bussing, Employment Attorney & HR Analyst. This session shed light on the importance of pay equity, how to achieve it, and the benefits it brings to organizations. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the session and key takeaways for HR professionals.

What is Pay Equity?

Pay equity refers to the principle of ensuring that all employees receive equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of gender, race, or other discriminatory factors. It involves comparing the value of jobs across an organization and adjusting pay disparities that are not based on legitimate business factors.

Source: The World Economic Forum defines pay equity as a critical component of gender parity and overall workplace equality .

Why Pay Equity Matters

  1. Fairness and InclusivityWhy It Matters: Pay equity is foundational to creating a fair and inclusive workplace. It ensures that all employees are compensated fairly for their contributions, which promotes a culture of respect and equality.Source: According to Forbes, achieving pay equity is crucial for fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace that values all employees equally .
  2. Legal Compliance and Risk MitigationWhy It Matters: Addressing pay disparities is not only a moral imperative but also a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. Ensuring pay equity helps organizations comply with equal pay laws and reduces the risk of legal action and penalties.Source: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) outlines the legal aspects of pay equity and the importance of compliance to avoid litigation .
  3. Enhanced Employee Engagement and RetentionWhy It Matters: Employees who feel they are paid fairly are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal to their organization. Pay equity can significantly boost employee morale and reduce turnover rates.Source: SHRM reports that pay equity is a key driver of employee satisfaction and retention, highlighting its importance for organizational success .

How to Assess Pay Equity

  1. Leadership CommitmentImportance: Achieving pay equity requires a top-down approach where leadership is fully committed to promoting and maintaining equitable pay practices.Action: Leadership should set clear goals, allocate resources, and communicate the importance of pay equity throughout the organization.Source: Harvard Business Review emphasizes the role of leadership in driving pay equity initiatives and ensuring their success .
  2. Job Grouping and Internal AnalysisImportance: Grouping similar jobs and conducting thorough internal pay analyses are essential steps in identifying pay disparities within an organization.Action: Use job evaluation tools to categorize roles and compare compensation across similar positions. Conduct regular audits to monitor and address discrepancies.Source: The National Women’s Law Center provides guidelines on conducting pay equity audits and the importance of internal analysis .
  3. Benchmarking and Market DynamicsImportance: Understanding market pay rates and trends helps organizations set competitive and fair compensation levels.Action: Benchmark salaries against industry standards and adjust pay structures to align with market dynamics. Utilize compensation surveys and data from reliable sources.Source: offers extensive resources and tools for benchmarking salaries and understanding market dynamics .
  4. Transparent CommunicationImportance: Transparency in pay practices builds trust and demonstrates an organization’s commitment to fairness.Action: Communicate openly with employees about how pay decisions are made and the steps taken to ensure pay equity. Provide access to pay equity reports and updates.Source: Glassdoor highlights the benefits of pay transparency in fostering trust and engagement among employees .
  5. Ongoing Updates and ReviewsImportance: Pay equity is an ongoing process that requires regular review and updates to ensure sustained fairness.Action: Establish a routine schedule for reviewing pay practices and making necessary adjustments. Stay informed about changes in pay equity legislation and market conditions.Source: McKinsey & Company underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and updating of pay practices to maintain equity .

Rewards of Achieving Pay Equity

  1. Stronger Organizational CultureBenefit: Achieving pay equity strengthens the organizational culture by promoting fairness, trust, and respect among employees.Source: SHRM notes that organizations with equitable pay practices tend to have more positive and inclusive workplace cultures .
  2. Enhanced Reputation and CompetitivenessBenefit: Organizations known for fair pay practices attract top talent and gain a competitive edge in the labor market.Source: A study by the World Economic Forum highlights that companies with strong reputations for pay equity are more attractive to prospective employees and customers .
  3. Increased Employee Satisfaction and ProductivityBenefit: Fair compensation practices lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity, contributing to overall organizational success.Source: The Journal of Organizational Behavior links pay equity to improved employee performance and organizational outcomes .


The SHRM 2024 session on pay equity highlighted the critical importance of getting pay right in today’s workplace. By committing to pay equity, conducting thorough analyses, benchmarking against market standards, maintaining transparency, and continuously updating pay practices, organizations can foster fairness, inclusivity, and trust. These efforts not only mitigate legal risks but also enhance employee engagement, retention, and overall organizational performance. As we strive to create more equitable workplaces, let’s remember that pay equity is not just a goal—it’s an ongoing journey that requires dedication and vigilance.