In the process of talking with our network and extended network, we have been fortunate enough to talk to a lot of very excited people – people who were excited by the prospect of improving their own lives and that of the other people in their company.  But we’ve also talked to some companies who were less excited.

At first this seems perplexing – there is so much evidence to prove that there are positive outcomes for increasing diversity, in the workplace, and improving productivity, and increase sales based on better branding, etc.  So what’s the issue?

Some companies are afraid of what will happen if their company’s issues come to light.  They’d rather not do anything and wait.  But there’s a huge problem with that.

Some may disavow the diversity and inclusivity movement as social pressure, but regardless of opinions on the matter, the fact remains – the law doesn’t care.  In fact, not only are there federal laws on the books, but an increasing number of states also have protections in place.

So let’s say you live in a state that has fewer protections for your staff, and you decide to wait it out.  The problem is that there is a law on the books – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – that removed the statute of limitations for pay discrimination.  Also the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that will open cases against companies on behalf of the staff, and have done so with increasing rate.  If you are found to have knowingly swept this issue under the rug, you will be liable for the full damages of the discrimination.

So now, you’re hoping that no one ever finds out.  The problem is the social pressure is mounting for transparency in pay.  Due to things like Glassdoor, and other social sites, there is more and more information leaking out of companies.  Further, if all the companies in your sector are taking action and you aren’t, it’s going to seem increasingly suspicious and really becomes a matter of decreasing odds that someone won’t force the issue internally.

Doing the right thing is the right thing to do

Your only defense is to take proactive measures – find the issues, fix the issues, and do so as quickly as possible.  If you think the government knowing or not knowing is something you can control, guess again – the EEOC compliance documents include more and more strenuous information on hiring, firing and payroll, and as long as you’re more than 100 employees or 50 in the case where you work with federal contracts, you are legally required to give them this information.

The EEOC looks kindly upon companies that attempt to do the right thing, but they also don’t look kindly on compliance failures – regardless of intentions.  Likewise, people often don’t trust companies to do the right thing when they are auditing themselves.

So failure to comply with equal pay initiatives is no longer an issue for hiring managers.  It’s a board issue.  It’s an finance issue.  It’s an investor issue.  And the longer you wait, the larger that issue becomes.

So what can do you do?  You can work with companies external to your company, like SameWorks.  We offer an affordable, third party programmatic audit – where you can look at the results, make corrections and fix your own payroll issues carefully and in a way that makes you compliant as quickly as possible.