By: John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., president, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
Published on PennLive, Aug. 23, 2019
According to data published by the National Women’s Law Center, women in Pennsylvania make 80.5 cents for every dollar that men make, ranking 24th among states and the District of Columbia in lifetime wage gap losses for women. It isn’t until age 70 that women’s career earnings catch up to men’s career earnings at age 60.
At HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, we are committed to gender equality by obtaining parity in one of the most crucial aspects of a woman’s life: her pay. Adequate compensation for a woman provides a means toward economic independence, while confirming her worth and rights through fair and equal practices.
We are closing the gender pay gap through recruitment and compensation practices that are fair and equitable. For example, HACC does not ask for previous salaries during the recruitment process. Instead, starting pay is based on the applicability of the individual’s experience and education to the position, not their negotiating skills.
These practices also work to eliminate the unconscious bias – a thought that “men make better leaders and managers whereas women are more nurturing and make better caretakers” according to “Unequal Pay, Unconscious Bias, And What To Do About It.”
An October 2018 study of annual salaries of full-time employees at HACC indicates that, on average, women earned 98% of male earnings. Significantly, there is no wage gap between male and female faculty members at HACC, as female faculty earn 101% of what male faculty earn.
HACC is also closing the gender pay gap by promoting and hiring women into leadership positions. Women comprise 66% of HACC’s total workforce, 64% of full-time faculty and 50% of the president’s Cabinet. A diverse workplace at HACC that includes multigenerational colleagues, employees with disabilities and other cultures and backgrounds affords our colleagues an opportunity to learn from their peers whose work experiences, styles and attitudes may vary from their own. Diversifying our Cabinet in which women constitute half of the senior management provides the College community with diverse personal and professional viewpoints, insights and ideas, more expansive problem-solving and innovative thinking. This has made it possible for us, as a COMMUNITY college, to better serve an increasingly diverse student and employee population.
Institutions of higher learning like HACC have the ability to implement best practices that not only impact their workforce but also their most important stakeholders – students. When students are connected to a culture of gender equity and see women in positions of influence, they receive the message that they can be successful as well. Women in the classroom and boardroom can inspire future generations of academics, entrepreneurs, public officials and business leaders.
Equal pay activist Lilly Ledbetter said, “We still are not paid equally. And if you believe that it’s a myth, do the math.” We have done the math at HACC, and we are proud of the results. Through strong leadership and sound and equitable compensation practices, HACC is not only closing the pay gap but continuing to foster an inclusive community that recognizes and values everyone.