Strategies for Advancing Pay Equity

March 22, 2024 | By Kevin Gray

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
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TAGS: best practices, compensation, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, talent acquisition,

Recent data reveal that systemic barriers continue to limit progress on achieving pay equity for all—yet there are tangible, proven ways that employers and career centers can make an impact. In their article in the Winter 2024 issue of NACE Journal, NACE’s Mary Gatta, Ph.D., Deborah Liverman, Ph.D., of MIT offered several strategies for employers and career services to advance pay equity.


Companies play a vital role in promoting pay equity, particularly at the college level where they actively recruit new graduates for various roles. Dr. Gatta and Dr. Liverman offer the following strategies to help organizations move forward with pay equity:

Ensure recruiters know the organization’s policies and procedures around compensation

Recruiters serve as the crucial link between candidates and the organization, conveying company policies and processes for determining starting compensation. To enhance recruitment efforts, it is essential for recruiters to understand how salaries, raises, and bonuses are determined and have insight into the compensation division's approach to conducting pay equity audits. This knowledge enables recruiters to address candidates' questions about ensuring fair and appropriate compensation levels.

Create access to opportunities for all

Connect new hires to mentoring and sponsorship programs. In addition to their interest in salary details, candidates are eager to learn about the company's career development programs, which can play a significant role in creating a level playing field. Here, too, gender plays a role: There is a notable disparity in career advancement between men and women, from the first promotion to manager and on to senior leadership roles. This disparity emphasizes the importance of mentoring and sponsorship programs, as well as access to senior leaders, all of which help increase women’s access to opportunities in the workplace.

Be transparent about salaries

Share pay ranges in job postings. There is a growing national trend toward salary transparency, notably observed on various social media platforms. Public conversations about salary experiences, employee-initiated salary spreadsheets for equity assessment, and stories of employees internally publicizing salary details have become more prevalent. According to a recent Handshake trends report on Gen Z and salary transparency, survey respondents indicated that a clear salary range in a job description serves as a motivating factor when applying for opportunities. Moreover, responding to this demand for transparency, several states have enacted laws to promote greater pay transparency. Hawaii, Colorado, New York, and Massachusetts are examples of states that now require the sharing of pay ranges on job postings.

Amplify awareness

For both career centers and employers, leveraging social media as a communication tool to amplify awareness requires minimal effort. Sharing content related to significant occasions like National Equal Pay Day and pay equity days, especially through an intersectional lens, serves as an effective strategy to enhance awareness surrounding the gender wage gap and your efforts for pay equity.


What role do career centers play in aiding their graduates in navigating current and future job inequities? The institution's response to this question is key to shaping career services’ engagement initiatives and informing programming and outreach efforts. College career centers can play a crucial role in mitigating inequities and fostering awareness through diverse mechanisms. To do this, Dr. Gatta and Dr. Liverman suggest career centers:


Collaboration is instrumental in addressing pay equity issues, so invite in key partners, including the institution’s alumni office, women’s groups, and alumni women's groups. These connections ensure that graduates are well-equipped to navigate and capitalize on career advancement opportunities when they arise.

Establish a baseline

By delving into the institution’s graduate outcome data, the career center gains valuable insights into potential disparities in starting salaries. Conducting a thorough analysis of salary information provides a baseline, and comparing these data to local and national benchmarks aids in pinpointing areas for intervention. This information and analysis are pivotal in comprehending the landscape of job offers and opportunities available to your student and graduate population.

Provide guidance on negotiating salaries

To address inequity and boost awareness, career centers can kickstart negotiation training for their advising teams. For example, the "Work Smart and Start Smart" course, offered by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), delivers valuable insights into negotiation techniques and the gender pay gap. By seamlessly integrating information about employment policies into negotiation resources, career centers can arm graduates with the knowledge necessary to navigate intricate salary discussions with confidence. The MIT Equal Pay Working Group also contributes to this effort by offering publicly accessible, state-by-state job offer templates that deliver essential legal information, including navigating non-compete agreements, verifying whether a person’s salary matches their co-workers’ salaries, negotiating for contractual protections, and more.

Customize events to the institution’s demographics

This could involve implementing financial education programming, hosting salary negotiation workshops with insights from hiring managers, addressing legal considerations for start-ups’ job offers, discussing nuances in job offers, or providing guidance on financial planning specifically tailored for contractors.

Help students identify employers committed to pay equity

On the employer relations front, the career center team can play a pivotal role in assisting students in identifying employers committed to pay equity. Understanding the job offers extended to your students and graduates provides valuable insights that can aid them in securing and negotiating offers effectively. College career centers can actively collaborate with organizations that hire their students and graduates, delving into their processes for determining job offers. This collaborative effort includes exploring the negotiability of job offers and identifying key factors contributing to candidates' success in the negotiation process. Additionally, understanding any equity analyses conducted by the company at the onset of and throughout an employee's tenure contributes to creating a more informed and equitable employment landscape. Another effective mechanism involves enhancing your job and career fair employer database with filters highlighting employers' commitment to pay equity.

Dr. Gatta and Dr. Liverman say the reality is that we have a long way to go to achieve equity in pay. However, they point out that college career centers and employers stand at the forefront of efforts to advance pay equity, and by implementing strategic initiatives, they play a vital role in creating a more equitable landscape for graduates entering the workforce.

Mary Gatta, Ph.D., is the director of research and public policy for NACE. Deborah Liverman, Ph.D., is the executive director of career advising and professional development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more about pay equity, see “Gender Pay Gap: Tips for Employers to Ensure Their Salaries Are Equitable.”

blank default headshot of a user Kevin Gray is an associate editor at NACE. He can be reached at