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Nordstrom says it reached 100% pay equity across gender and race

Valerie Bolden-Barrett


Conducting an analysis, such as the one Nordstrom undertook, is step one in efforts to achieve pay equity and to assess inequality or bias in an organization. Taking an objective look at available data can help companies address issues like pay equity head on. What is more challenging to diagnose and address is the role bias plays in the workplace and the ways in which it impacts culture and inclusion. 

Bias can creep in at many levels of an organization. Nordstrom faced accusations of bias and race discrimination in 2018 after employees in a St. Louis Nordstrom Rack store allegedly followed three black teenage customers around the store, falsely accused them of stealing and called the police to confront them. Nordstrom Rack's CEO flew to St. Louis to personally apologize to the teenagers, but the incident drew criticism for the retailer's culture and the perceived bias of the staff involved in the incident. The retailer followed the incident up with an internal investigation to determine what additional efforts it should take. 

Pay equity and parity won't mean much if a culture of discrimination is allowed to thrive. Bias isn't a new concept, Deborah Munster, executive director of Diversity Best Practices, told HR Dive's sister publication Retail Dive, but how employers approach the issue and how customers perceive discrimination cases like Nordstrom's has evolved. "For the first time you're seeing an intersection between politics, diversity, inclusion and the workplace — all three of those things are intersecting."

In addition to conducting pay audits to looks for gaps, HR pros might consider unconscious bias training or educating staff on the damage microaggressions can cause to bring more equality and inclusion to an organization.

    Overall Benefits & Policies
    Company Culture
    Gender Equity/Diversity
    Pay Gap/Parity Issues
    Racial Equity/Diversity
    ​Unconscious Bias

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