Gretchen Harders Quoted in “C-Notes in the C-Suite: How Women Can Get Their Fair Share”


Gretchen Harders, Member of the Firm in the Employee Benefits practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360, in “C-Notes in the C-Suite: How Women Can Get Their Fair Share,” by Emily Brill. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Though the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have raised awareness of gender equality issues in the workplace, female executives still face hurdles when looking to negotiate compensation packages that mirror those of their male counterparts.

Pay transparency laws, intended to dissolve the veil of secrecy that can allow unequal pay to flourish, don’t always cover bonuses, a key part of an executive’s compensation package. And much of that package, if not all, comes about through negotiation, which historically has presented more obstacles for women than men.

These challenges can make it tougher for women to get their fair share once they make it to the C-suite, but a renewed global focus on equal pay has resulted in more eyeballs on these issues and more interest in how to solve them. …

With secrecy comes the potential for a gender-based bonus discrepancy, according to attorneys. …

Gretchen Harders, a member of Epstein Becker Green’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice, advises employers on bonus structures. In order to ensure bonuses aren’t affected by unconscious bias, Harders recommends that employers analyze their decision-making process when doling out bonuses.

“What are the discretionary factors you’re taking into account? Is it ‘this person has more potential’? Gut feelings? What’s helpful is looking at accountability during the process,” Harders said. “The people making the decisions know they have to justify it. I think that’s a way for the bonus compensation process to look more equitable and perhaps address some of these [pay equity] issues.” …

Employers who really wish to make a dent in the pay gap can also ask themselves, as Harders put it, “Should these bonuses be transparent?”

Harders said she can see arguments for both sides, and she’s not unsympathetic to the notion that a company would have legitimate reasons for keeping bonus amounts private.

But “some element of transparency” could be helpful, she said.