The Dumbing Down Of Equality

William Tincup William Uranga

2250160502_21df89d710The green movement has come of age. Clothed in their right mind, who is a proponent for trashing our environment? No one. The question about how you achieve “green” is the subject of much debate.

In a similar vein, equal work for equal pay is something that strikes a chord of justice in our thinking. Recently Congress has been getting ready to insert itself into the offer negotiations between employer and candidate.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is a piece of legislation winding its way through legislation. It would authorize the Department of Labor to compare pay between various jobs through publishing guidelines. The intent is to address compensation discrimination. While being for “comparable worth” is attractive in theory, there are serious flaws with this approach. Some highlights:

* This legislation expands penalties in discrimination cases, but gives little to employers to defend themselves against such accusations. There is no evidence of industry-wide collusion of employers to discriminate on the basis of gender or race.

* Proponents argue that there is discrimination because women or people of color tend to hold certain jobs. This fails to account for the possibility that the jobs themselves are not valued, not the people that do them. Gaps in wages do exist, but this in and of itself does not give evidence of discrimination.

* This legislation will lead to the employers’ confidentiality of salary data being eroded. This hurts their ability to compete with each other at the local and global level.

* Complexity in the wage gap theory is not addressed. Charts such as this one do little to explain things like:

o Regional differences, type of work experience, time in the work force etc. can be influencing factors.

o Women tend to work less hours per year and leave the workforce for longer periods than their male counterparts.

Next time you’re negotiating with a candidate on an offer, who knows your business goals and objectives better? You and your hiring manager or the federal government? Can you envision the day where due to the shortage in skilled talent a candidate demands a higher wage than your offer, but you say, “Sorry, federal guidelines say I can’t pay you that much? That is when the government has determined the individual’s worth, not the marketplace.

With the mess the government has made in managing your social security and now financial institutions, do you really think it’s smart to have them give guidance on matters of compensation?

The marketplace can figure equity out with “at will” employment and the rise of the free agent. Really, there’s no need to dumb down equality.

Photo by Cayusa