Three Steps to Pay Parity

Today is Equal Pay Day in the U.S., the sobering date representing how far into the year the average woman has to work before she matches the male’s earnings from the preceding year. It’s an important symbol of the opportunity and challenge ahead of all of us in the business world. There are so many factors that go into a pay gap like this – from career paths to hiring practices to career opportunity – that it can seem a bit overwhelming to solve.

Adobe has taken on a more manageable challenge, which is gender pay parity among our own employee base. We define pay parity as ensuring that employees in the same job are paid fairly relative to one another, regardless of gender. We’re proud to have reached pay parity in the US and India already, and have committed to achieving it globally this year.

Many of our customers and partners, working on their own pay parity initiatives, have asked us how we do it. So, in the spirit of making progress on Equal Pay Day, below are three steps we’ve implemented to reach pay parity.

  1. Define jobs.

Before a company can compare individuals’ pay, it needs to be sure that the comparisons being made are appropriate. For Adobe, that means ensuring employees are matched to the appropriate job families and levels that best reflect the work they actually do. For some companies, this rigor might already be in place; but we at Adobe had historically taken a very broad approach to our job structure. As a result, it was difficult to compare pay when individuals performing different jobs and requiring different skills and capabilities were grouped in the same job family. For example, we had no job distinction across marketing managers, regardless of whether they focused on brand marketing, search engine optimization or event management.

Recognizing that this was a barrier to performing an accurate review of our employees’ pay, we embarked on an exercise we called “job architecture.” This project entailed a review of the job families Adobe was currently using to determine whether they accurately reflected the roles and responsibilities employees were performing. As a result of this project, we introduced many new job families and employees were classified into jobs families and levels that better represented their actual work and scope. It was a long and painstaking process, but this foundation was essential to making appropriate comparisons, both internally and with external market data.

  1. Review and adjust.

Once we had the appropriate job families in place, and employees were aligned to the job families and levels that best represented their scope and responsibilities, we reviewed pay across our job structure in the U.S. and India. We made individual pay adjustments as needed, and fortunately, there weren’t that many. As you can expect, these pay adjustments were greeted as a pleasant surprise.

While we have now addressed 80% of our employee population, the remaining 20% is spread across more than 30 countries. That presents different challenges relative to our review, which we are working through now.

  1. Maintain over time.

Achieving pay parity at a point in time is important, but we also need processes to maintain it, especially as we continue to grow and hire. The most dramatic change we’ve made to ensure ongoing parity is eliminating the practice of asking candidates for their salary histories. This adds some extra complexity in our recruiting process, but it is the only reliable way of ensuring that we don’t carry over inequities that may have existed in prior companies. In addition, we are exploring tools that the recruiting teams can leverage to help assist with offers being made and provide indicators if the offer will create a pay parity issue. We regularly monitor to ensure that pay stays equitable through annual salary increases and other shifts in the business.

Pay parity is never truly done – it’s an ongoing state of balance. We are continuing to learn, especially as we embark on the global stage of our journey. In the spirit of Equal Pay Day, we hope that sharing our approach might help others who are also tackling this important challenge.