What Can Jennifer Lawrence Teach HR Leaders About Pay Equity?

by Evil HR Lady on June 19, 2017

When actress Jennifer Lawrence found out her male co-stars were earning more than her, she famously called out Hollywood for its lack of pay equity for actresses. Many discounted her points because she was still very highly paid, despite the fact that she was headlining hugely successful movies while getting paid less than her male co-stars.

But somewhat surprisingly, Lawrence didn’t respond with anger and blame directed toward Hollywood. Instead, she ultimately blamed herself for not effectively negotiating. So how does Lawrence’s situation and her reaction to it serve to educate HR Leaders about addressing pay equity?

To keep reading, click here: What Can Jennifer Lawrence Teach HR Leaders About Pay Equity?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny June 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Good points. It’s important to note that the wage discrepancy cannot be wholly attributed to women’s reluctance to negotiate. As noted in the article, women are treated differently during salary negotiations and are more likely to be required to justify their demands than are men.

Reply

Maria Rose June 19, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Grannybunny said it correctly. There may be a salary range in place for position but women are generally offered the lower salary using the outdated but still around idea that her salary is a secondary salary to any household.

Reply

Diana Schneidman June 19, 2017 at 11:49 pm

She should fire her agent and get a new one.

She is an artist and should live her life as such.She has an agent to do her negotiating and he sold her out cheap. Maybe he represented multiple actors in a single film and had a role in distributing the available budget to favor men.

-d

Reply

Amanda June 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

One issue I’ve seen come up, and have experienced myself on both sides, is a lack of transparency about salary ranges. Some industries trend higher on salaries than others, but almost every company I’ve worked with has kept their ranges under wraps. So inevitably, the question comes up during the interview process: “What is your current salary?” or “What salary would you need to make a change?” The candidate fires of a number that is hopefully educated, but without knowing that the company is targeting, he or she is woefully at a disadvantage.

My personal experience is that after taking some time off when I had my youngest two, I decided it was time to get back into the workforce. Whilst interviewing for my current job, my now-manager asked me what I was looking to make. I gave a number that, honestly, I thought was high for the position but that was necessary for me. When offered the job, she offered me about $2,000 more per year than I’d asked for. Naturally, I was excited and pleased. That is, until I started and learned that what I was offered was still $3,800 under the minimum of the pay range for this position in this company.

Now, as a professional with ten years of experience, just knowing that I’m making less than the minimum of the range is quite disheartening. Everything else about my job and this company are wonderful, but just knowing this information is nearly demoralizing. Not to mention that if I stay, every promotional increase will be based, at least in part, on this salary.

Do I want to leave just because of this? No, because there are so many positive qualities about my job and the people I work with. But how should I address this? Is it possible to do so without seeming greedy? And is it normal for a company to pay below their established range? I know it wasn’t the practice in my previous company.

Reply

mer June 20, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Amanda: you were pleased with the salary until you found out it was lowballed? If you never found out it was lowballed, you would have stayed pleased with it?
I’m confused as to why. You asked for a number you required, they gave you more than that, you were excited (your description, not mine). That sounds like a win to me.
If you never found out that you were lowballed, would everything else about the job still be wonderful?
Have you gone and asked about getting bumped up to the minimum?

Reply

the gold digger June 20, 2017 at 5:53 pm

I would not be happy about being lowballed. I don’t think anyone would be. Your pay does not exist in a vacuum. It shows how the company values your work (or even you) in comparison to other people.

It is sleazy of a manager to try to lowball someone. Why would it even occur to someone? “Great! I can pay someone less than our budget already has for this position! That will surely lead to long-term happiness and productivity for all concerned!”

Reply

mer June 20, 2017 at 6:13 pm

That was not the point I was trying to make: until she discovered she was lowballed, she was thrilled at the pay. If you reread what Amanda wrote, she named a figure she thought was high and got a number 2K greater than that. Yes, she would have been more thrilled if they came back with 5800 more but it may also raise questions (Why are they offering me 6K more than I asked for?)

If you negotiate a satisfactory salary, who cares if it’s lowballed?

Reply

J.B. June 21, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Except that being lowballed at one place means you will most likely be lowballed at the next. I finally got a raise to bring me up to the minimum for my salary position. Nice of them I guess? But I’m leaving anyway. Too much water under the bridge, and clear preference towards male employees over female when it comes to promotions.

Reply

the gold digger June 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm

Because satisfaction does not exist in a vacuum and because there is a power imbalance between the employer and the employee. The employer knows what others performing at Amanda’s level are making. Amanda does not have that information.

I promise if you had complete information about what other people were being paid for doing the same job you are doing and you discovered you were being grossly underpaid, you would not be happy.

Reply

Amanda June 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Mer, don’t get me wrong. I love my job, and I love what I do. And during the interview process, I did ask for a salary that, based on my knowledge and prior experience, I felt was fair.

That said, I think it would sting for anyone to learn that their pay is below the established minimum, especially if that employee has considerably more than the minimum qualifications.

My entire point is that, if employers are transparent about the range from the start, job seekers are in a position to make a more educated request. And it goes both ways. Some industries pay considerably higher wages than others. My background in HR is primarily in the manufacturing industry. I know that if I were to pursue an opportunity in say, health care or education, even the number I named during my interview would likely be too high and would price me out of a job.

The disappointment of learning I was lowballed is more about the ethics of the practice. What is the point of setting a salary range if not to adhere to it? It seems like it would set the company up for discrimination claims (not from me, mind you). I’ve never known a company to do this, so yes, it is baffling to me. When recruiting, I am always transparent about what the range is. This gives candidates a more solid foundation for deciding whether this is an opportunity they want to pursue, and save both sides time in the long run. Ultimately, it’s just the right thing to do.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: