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Going Beyond the Foundation of Pay Equity

Nestlé has reached 1:1 pay equity for women and underrepresented minorities.
Equal Pay at Nestle USA

In the U.S. it takes women an average of 15 months to earn what men earn in 12. It takes even longer for Black women, Native American women, and Latina women. There is no quick fix, but there are changemakers in every industry working to improve workplace equity.

In 2019, we announced 1:1 gender pay equity in salaries of men and women at Nestlé, and in 2021 we were proud to share that we went further to establish 1:1 pay equity in underrepresented minority employee salaries.

In addition to transparent pay equity, we’re taking on issues of equity at every level: using data, deeply embedding a culture of belonging, and building greater access to growth opportunities. This commitment to equity is among the reasons we’re proud to be listed on Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index (GEI) for the fifth consecutive year. The GEI recognizes companies committed to transparency in gender-related data and showcases companies with a commitment to gender equality.

Here’s how we’re taking our commitment to equity even further:

Use data to ensure pay equity across gender and race.

When we announced 1:1 gender pay equity in 2019, we knew that was only one step. That’s why we committed to going deeper on pay equity and to sharing our findings to help other companies do the same. Gender inequity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so we applied a new lens on pay equity with added focus on historically underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds.

JudyC on Pay Equity

Pay equity is a critical foundation — it’s not ‘mission accomplished’ by itself. Pay is a chance to leverage data as an organization, and it’s something that requires constant review and surveillance. It helps ensure a critical check-and-balance on the biases and systems that perpetuate inequality, like the historical practice of setting compensation based on salary history (a practice we’ve eliminated across the company). These findings tell me that the checks-and-balances are working to ensure pay is set fairly. Now, we’re expanding that mindset further into qualitative areas like building culture, evaluating talent and cultivating access to stretch opportunities.

Go beyond training and set culture standards driven by leadership.

Pay equity starts by making sure compensation reflects what it should — factors like performance, market rates for job roles, and job level. But it’s important to understand that performance evaluations and promotion pathways are processes that require action to remove bias and create equal opportunity.

For us, that begins with an updated unconscious bias training for all employees. That’s a beginning–-but a deeper culture change is critical. Leadership will need to continuously disrupt and challenge ourselves to level up. Every leader at Nestlé USA needs to leverage inclusion and belonging as the way to lead — not as an exercise in checking a box.

These concepts are baked into our strategy, our professional training, and every message for our leaders and rising leaders. HR leaders in my generation have seen the ‘fad’ trap in DE&I programming before — interest in investing in diversity has peaked in cycles over the last few decades without lasting change. A true culture shift — starting with strong, clear, accountable leadership — is the only way to make sustainable progress in diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging.

Make growth opportunities more transparent and accessible.

Leaders don’t only play a role in the moment that someone is selected for a promotion. They play a role in the little opportunities that lead up to it. Being in the ‘room where it happens’ isn’t just about the board room. Growth opportunities pop up in informal settings– a new project might get mentioned or an introduction made in a carpool, at a child’s school, or in a college alumni event. An employee from a different background or social network can miss out on access to the small opportunities that add up to career acceleration.

This is one area I’ve seen a positive ripple effect over the last year. Remote work has helped break down the metaphorical ‘golf course.’ In the virtual workplace, we’re making connections that look different than before. However, those changes are not enough without finding formal ways to make growth opportunities transparent and accessible.

With the idea of more transparent opportunities in mind, we created a new internal platform at Nestlé: Talent Marketplace. The platform was originally pitched by an employee and funded through our crowdsourced culture innovation competition. Talent Marketplace is a virtual hub where every team can post stretch and learning development opportunities. These opportunities are available whether you’ve been at Nestlé six months or six years, no matter your background. Our hope is that a platform like this can open new pathways for every employee to grow, have a bigger impact at Nestlé, and drive the future of our company.

For mentorship and stretch opportunities, formal programs can be part of the solution. From there, it’s critical to embed inclusion and equity in your culture and in expectations of your leaders. We’ve started with accountability in our data, especially around pay equity. Now, we’ll keep pushing further: clarity, transparency, empowerment, courage, and belonging need to be anchored in every dimension of our culture. That’s how we’ll create lasting change.