Every CEO should have a daughter

When male CEOs have a daughter, the gender wage gap at their firm closes

By Todd Humber (todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com

Fathers have legendary soft spots for their daughters. Turns out, for male CEOs, having a daughter also loosens the grip on the company payroll.

In an unpublished paper, Like Daughter, Like Father: How Women’s Wages Change When CEOs Have Daughters, researchers from the University of Maryland, Columbia Business School in New York and Denmark’s Aalborg University examined 12 years’ worth of Danish workforce data and came to an interesting conclusion: If a male CEO has a daughter, the gender wage gap at his firm closes.

How much? Overall, the gender wage gap reduces about 0.5 per cent. And if the CEO only has one child, and it’s a girl, the effect is amplified — a decrease in the wage gap of about 2.8 per cent.

The birth of a daughter also impacts classes of employees differently. The least-educated female employees experience virtually no effect, while the most-educated experience a one-per-cent decrease in the wage gap. The authors suggest this is because “CEOs experience a higher degree of social identification with more educated women, who they believe their daughters are likely to resemble.”

Not surprisingly, the wage gap closes more in smaller organizations when a daughter comes on the scene — likely because these CEOs have more autonomy in determining salaries.

“Our results suggest that the first daughter ‘flips a switch’ in the mind of a male CEO, causing him to attend more to equity in gender-related wage policies,” the authors wrote.

It’s not surprising — human behaviour almost always changes for the better when there is a personal connection or a vested interest. But let’s hope that “switch” is flipped in more organizations. It’s high time we moved past the issue.

BlackBerry update: Thanks to everyone — and there were a lot of you — who wrote in response to my tongue-in-cheek commentary in the Feb. 28 issue on the refusal of my BlackBerry to type HR (it insisted on changing it to “hour”). For those who want a fix, here’s how to do it: Go to “Options” (that’s the wrench icon) then select “AutoText.” Look for “hr” and click on it — you can then delete it, or even change it so it spells out “human resources” rather than “hour.”

See you out West: I’ll be attending the British Columbia Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA) conference in Vancouver next month as well as the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) conference in Edmonton. If you’re there, be sure to drop by the Thomson Reuters booth to say hello.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resources management. For more information, visit www.hrreporter.com.


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