ND’s Largest Private Employer Talks Gender Pay Gap


Last week Congress passed the paycheck fairness act, a bill to close loopholes created through the equal pay act of 1963. Our Malique Rankin spoke to the human resources director at state’s largest private employer to learn how they combat the gender pay gap.

The median earnings ratio for women is still 80 cents on the dollar that men make. For North Dakota, we fall just below the national average at 79%. KX News talked with HR at Sanford Health on the steps that take to ensure fair salaries.

Leah Kelsch; Executive Director of HR Strategic Partnerships: “For women, I mean, we all want to have a fair rate of pay. I think, to understand how you can negotiate to get the best rate of pay, the most competitive, is going to be impactful to females all around.”

Leah Kelsch is the executive director of Human Resources. She says each time Sanford takes on a new hire, an equity analysis is done to make sure the pay is fair.

Leah Kelsch; Executive Director of HR Strategic Partnerships: “We look at, within the department, that wage is equitable, so they’re falling within the same amount of experience, they’re falling within the same range of pay.”

Through the Paycheck fairness act: 
-it prohibits retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages
-requires employers to explain that differences in wage are NOT based on sex.
-and it provides negotiation skills training for women.

Kellie Reinhart; Sanford Clinic Supervisor: “I think it’s just sometimes an uncomfortable topic to talk about, especially if you’re just getting hired. You don’t want to feel like you’re trying to get something that’s out of the ballpark. I think having those skills and being comfortable would really help us in that aspect.”

Kellie Reinhart is a Sanford employee. She previously worked at a long-term care facility, as well as Sanford’s competing hospital.

Kellie Reinhart: “I came from a long-term care facility. So normally the pay is a little bit higher than the hospital/clinic setting. So I did negotiate a little bit. I felt they were really fair in that aspect. Obviously, I’m still working here, and I’ve been satisfied since.”

At Sanford Health, 77% of employees are female, and 70% of leadership positions are held by women, lessening the issue of a pay gap.

Leah Kelsch; Executive Director of HR Strategic Partnerships: “It’s not so much competing against gender, its more so competing against our other competitors, right.”

According to the US Department of Labor, the national gender pay gap has actually worsened in the past few years. It was at it’s highest ratio pay at 82.5% in 2014.

Analysts expect the playing field won’t be level in pay for women until 2058.

The paycheck fairness act was NOT a bipartisan effort. The final vote was 242-187, with only 7 Republicans giving it a green vote.

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