The tech industry has a problem. More specifically, a gender wage gap problem.

You’ve probably heard this line before — in recent years, the spotlight on tech’s gender wage gap has intensified significantly.

But has that publicity been a catalyst for change? Not only are women in tech still paid less than their male counterparts, they’re also asking for less during the hiring process, perpetuating a cycle of being undervalued.

In other words, women are being short changed.

Recently, this discussion was opened even further at the SXSW conference session “Short Changed: Why Women’s Salaries Fall Short.” The session’s panel of experts included Kelli Dragovich, SVP of People at

While talking to Hired’s CEO about how companies can redefine the hiring process, the YouEarnedIt team was also fortunate enough to have an in-depth Q&A with Kelli about actionable advice concerned companies can use to help close the gender wage gap:

YouEarnedIt: Tech’s gender wage gap has been picking up publicity for a few years now. In your opinion, has the publicity had a measurable impact on the problem?

Kelli Dragovich: The publicity around the gender wage gap has definitely played a role in bringing awareness to the issue and pushing more companies to take a deeper look at their policies; however, we still have a long way to go in eliminating the wage gap altogether.

YEI: That said, with awareness of wage inequality growing, what advice would you give HR professionals who are realizing there’s a problem at their companies? What are some of the best, early steps they can take towards action?

KD: Hired feels it has a responsibility to its clients, its employees, the candidates on the platform, and the hiring industry at large to serve as a catalyst for a more inclusive and equitable workforce. There are several early steps that companies can take toward closing the gap within their organization, including:

Creating a long-term approach to achieve authentic diversity – diversity reports are just a start; qualitative results are better measurements of success.

Eliminating biases – Unconscious biases can derail any diversity effort. To combat this, companies should put bias training in place for all hiring managers and anyone who is interviewing candidates.

Leveraging data – Companies should use objective, third-party salary data that takes years of experience, skillset and geographic location into account. When we let data guide our compensation philosophies, all of the unknowns are removed, allowing us to end the wage gap for good.

YEI: Women are not only earning less but asking for less. Does the traditional hiring process play a role in this? If so, what are some ways to fix it?

KD: The traditional hiring process does play a role in the wage gap, and it’s important for women to encourage each other and share their experiences around how they’ve negotiated in the past and/or how they set their compensation based on market value. However, it’s not just up to women to drive equal pay. The companies that perpetuate the wage gap have just as much if not more of a responsibility in doing something to drive equality and fairness within the workforce.

We all need to take a hard look inside our organizations to determine whether the people we already employ are being paid fairly. Closing the wage gap starts at the executive level by putting policies in place that make sure salaries are equitable.

For Hired, this involves starting with a very clear compensation philosophy that applies third-party salary data holistically across the organization. As a result, we pay each individual according to the market rate for their skills and experience as opposed to their previous salary, so that we are not perpetuating past biases.

YEI: As SVP of People at Hired, has the wage inequality problem affected your own policies and approaches? Can you share any success stories or stats that help Hired stand out from other tech companies?

KD: In addition to providing compensation transparency through our platform, our Talent Advocates encourage our candidates to set their preferred salaries based on the market rate for the skills and experience. This is a particularly effective approach for closing the wage gap, as it ensures that women aren’t asking for compensation based on a previous salary that could have been negatively affected by bias.

We are also working to educate job seekers more generally on the market rate for their skills through initiatives like our State of Salaries Report, and our salary calculator. In many ways, we see our data as a tool of empowerment in helping both candidates and companies match the right talent with the right job.

We also publicly share our own internal wage gap data across our internal role levels and functions on our external Careers and Diversity Page and revisit every six months via our Talent Review process.

YEI: The session mentions that data-based policies can help fix wage inequality. Can you expand on the types of data and policies companies might need to improve?

KD: One of the biggest pitfalls for employees seeking a raise or negotiating for a salary in a new role is that they use their current salary as a starting point for negotiations, which can just perpetuate the problem. The first step to negotiating a salary is to determine what your skillset is really worth using objective, third-party resources that take years of experience, company size and geographic location into account.

Thanks to online resources, it’s becoming easier to find objective salary information. For example, Payscale offers free salary surveys for people looking to get a new job or negotiate their current salary. Hired also offers several resources to educate job seekers on the market rate for their skills, like our salary calculator and State of Salaries report, which looks at average software engineering salaries in tech hubs across the U.S.

Companies should use these same resources when making a salary offer. When we let data guide our compensation philosophies, all of the unknowns are removed, allowing us to end wage inequality for good.

YEI: If there’s one key takeaway you want people to get from your SXSW session, what would it be?

KD: The discussion about the gender wage gap doesn’t end here. Companies should implement these actionable steps – like data-based policies – discussed during the panel in order to close the gap.

For more insights from Kelli and Hired, follow her on LinkedIn or visit


About YouEarnedIt:
YouEarnedIt is a SaaS HR technology platform that redefines the way companies engage with their employees. By providing tools to connect, reward, reveal and report in real-time, YouEarnedIt can consolidate employee engagement initiatives into one, easy-to-use mobile platform for teams of all sizes. Since launching in 2012, YouEarnedIt has delivered its flexible software to small enterprises and Fortune 500 brands across several industries. Visit for more information or schedule a quick demo here.

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Skyler Rogers