A recent study by the Harvard Business Review highlights the economic hardships that workers of color face, and how employers play a part in changing these long-standing issues. In the study, titled “Equality in the U.S. Starts with Better Jobs,” author Zeynep Ton dives into the racial and economical disadvantages Americans of color and gender face in today’s working world. The source? Bad jobs.

Ton argues that the cycle of providing Americans with low pay, unpredictable schedules, and poor benefits is problematic not only for workers, but also for employers. In the article, Ton states, “Put a capable person in a position where she must work two low-wage jobs – with uncertainty about her schedule, fear that she will not make rent, and little or no support from management to do a really good job –  and she will likely resign herself to mediocre or poor performance.” In order to combat the issue and reverse a process that affects millions of Americans, many of whom are individuals of color, Ton lists six steps for employers to follow: 

First, recognize that the problem exists and make an effort to correct it. Like most problems that occur within an organization, acknowledgement and acceptance are key to correcting the issue.

Second, simply increase wages for workers. This doesn’t have to happen all at once, but can rather take place over time. Employers need to recognize the hardships workers are facing and find a way to help them overcome them. 

Third, provide guidance and direction to workers who have low wages. Providing a worker with a career path as opposed to a job is an investment on the company’s behalf, but the rewards are far-reaching. Happier workers means higher quality work and improved productivity.

Fourth, make employee wage and turnover data available. These are practices employers should already be engaging in as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has required employers to provide this in their EEO-1 snapshots, but also because countries all over the world are making the practice of publishing pay data mandatory. If gender or race pay disparities are identified, employers could be subject to fines if they are not addressed.

Fifth, have a discussion with workers about any technological limitations they may be experiencing and how it’s impacting their work.

Lastly, support policies that prioritize workers. Ton’s final step suggests that employers need to “drive public policies that improve workers’ well-being and the economy.”

In short, in order to bring about social and economic change, better jobs need to be provided, and this starts with employers. A great way for employers to get started in helping to create better jobs for workers is to review their current workforces’ respective data. While you may not think that a problem exists, you won’t know for sure until you perform a pay equity audit.

Undergoing a pay equity audit provides your organization with complete transparency into your organization’s pay structure. In addition, a pay equity audit can identify pay differences between employees that cannot be explained due to job-related factors. This type of audit not only identifies problems, but also provides actionable solutions. It gives employers an opportunity to ensure fairness in pay and prevent equal pay issues. It allows employers to minimize risk by identifying and remediating deficiencies, providing them with greater standing to defend against and win claims of discrimination.

Learn how pay equity auditing has affected other organizations in a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, conducted in association with Trusaic, by clicking here.