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Transparency is key to pay parity


Equity in action

At the Medical College of Wisconsin, leaders use a statistical methodology to ensure that everyone is paid equitably based on experience, performance and responsibility that are aligned with compensation benchmarks.

For over a decade, the college has been working toward gender pay parity, conducting an annual compliance report and fair market value analysis, getting human resource support with new hires, holding budget discussions with the dean’s office, and implementing corrective actions that have been thoroughly reviewed, said Kevin Eide, associate vice president of total rewards and HR analytics at the medical school.

More than 1,600 employees were included in the college’s most recent review of pay parity and less than 3% were flagged for any compensation difference, Eide said.

Of the 43 individuals whose pay was reviewed, only 16 ended up requiring action on salary, he said.

The organization uses fair market value benchmarks and provides raises based on employees’ clinical productivity, value-based work effort and research or teaching work.

Every part of the compensation process, whether it involves hiring, bonuses, a change in status or annual increases, is reviewed for approval by the institutional compensation committee as well, Eide said.

“We want to engage at the time the decision is made, not try to review it a year later and then fix it,” he said.

Each year the college works with its departments, offering guidance and recommendations to help set their budgets in alignment with its equity principles.

The college shares the pay parity data with its chairs and a group called Advancing Women in Science and Medicine, Eide said. The institution’s employee website discloses how its salary benchmarking process works.

Eide said that while health systems will always run into problems figuring out how funding flows to various specialties and navigating the differences between academic medical centers and not-for-profits, operating with as much transparency as possible is a solid starting place.

Organizations should engage employees in fixing the problems, make sure to use clean data that takes into account individuals’ rank, specialty, merit and years worked.

In learning how to do this work, health systems can also look to each other for guidance and example, Eide said.

While more work is being done on these issues, it’s never really over, he said. “You need to build this into your process, do it constantly, every year, make it part of your culture. I think that’s the key to being successful.”

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