Equal Pay

On January 29, 2016, the Obama Administration proposed a change to EEOC reporting requirements. Currently, all employers with 100 or more workers, roughly 60,000 employers with 63 million employees, already complete the EEO-1 form on an annual basis, providing demographic information to the government about race, gender, and ethnicity, but the proposed change would require employers to complete a revised EEO-1 form that included salary and pay information.

Almost immediately, the business community objected, claiming that the additional information was unnecessary, useless, and a burden. The EEOC made revisions to the proposal, which included defining “pay” as the total W-2 compensation paid to an employee, since businesses already have to compile and report that figure, and issued the revised rule in September, 2016, while extending the compliance date from March 2017 to March 31, 2018.

Business interests, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are pressing the Trump administration hard to revoke the rule, saying that there’s no merit in the requirement. Trump’s Director of the Office of Management now says the matter is under review.

This is despite a huge amount of data that would appear to indicate the opposite, that, in particular, there is significant overall pay discrimination based on race and gender. The difficulty is that while statistics show that women are paid roughly twenty percent less than men, those are aggregate statistics, and both sides dispute them for different reasons.

What I find interesting is the Chamber of Commerce statement that the data would be useless. It seems to me that the data could be incredibly useful. It would go a very long way to either establishing or rejecting the idea that gender and racial pay discrimination exists.

In earlier comments, some businesses objected to the use of W-2 total compensation in the report, claiming that “base pay” was more accurate. Equal Pay advocates countered by pointing out that bonuses and other additional compensation go far more often to white males, and that total compensation – the measure adopted in the final rule – was a more accurate indicator.

The Chamber of Commerce’s opposition, at least to me, smacks of trying to keep everyone in the dark about what’s happening in the pay area, especially since business has to make the basic report anyway. It’s similar to the idea that, if the government stops funding climate research, global warming will just go away… but then, the head in the sand attitude has always been a favorite of those who don’t want things to change.

NOTE: At court hearing last Friday [April 7th], a U.S. Department of Labor regional director announced that, in investigating Google, the DOL had “found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much throughout the entire workforce.” Google, of course, vehemently denied the charges. This was the second Silicon Valley tech company that DOL had charged with such gender pay discrimination, the first being Oracle earlier this year.

9 thoughts on “Equal Pay”

  1. JakeB says:

    Yes, it seems like if they’re saying it’s useless when it could either refute or confirm their position, then they already know which it would do . . . and they don’t want other people to know.

  2. Alan Naylor says:

    It’s hard to compare pay, as mentioned, by total compensation. All too often it’s about how much an individual wants to work rather than by how much work is offered to them. I have unlimited overtime available to me where I work. As does every other maintenance tech who works here, due to the many unfilled job openings we have. If employees choose to not volunteer for those over time hours, that’s their decision but it drastically changes what the total compensation between two employees would be. A change that has absolutely nothing to do with race, gender or base pay.

    More over, in a two income home where the male is the majority earner, he could be choosing to work additional overtime (Even if they both make the same base salary), quickly increasing his total earnings, over his spouse’s earnings. This would make a total income analysis biased due to his willingness to work more while his spouse focused on family and home concerns. Or vice versa, as the case may be.

    Government sector employees receive the same wages and their wage scales are publically posted. There is zero bias possible for sex or race there. A previous employer of mine had a bonus system but it relied solely on the hours an individual worked and how productive the facility was. Again, no bias possible based on race or sex. Indeed, in today’s economy many employers are opting not to offer any bonuses at all, some 48% in a recent survey I read.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is no merit in collecting the data proposed, but I would suggest that the data is very easily taken out of context. Additionally it is likely to provide information which leads to erroneous conclusions as people massage the data to get the results they want. Because the data is not presented in a clear manner, people like to draw assumptions from incomplete or misrepresented information, with the associated flaws in their reasoning.

  3. R. Hamilton says:

    Why should any private entity be obligated to subject themselves to statistical analysis (which proves nothing about any specific instance of abuse)?

    They should be paying as little as they can to obtain and retain the employees they desire. Those who fail to convince an employer of their value, or fail to negotiate in the manner expected, will get less. Maybe a private voluntary effort to offer some remedial training in those areas would help; some may not know what assertiveness is acceptable and expected.

    Even as a mere member of a “privileged” category, I can relate to a considerable distaste for selling anything, let alone myself; I have no doubt that cost me at least one promotion, but as I didn’t want the aggravation that would have gone with that promotion, I was doubly relieved to avoid both the selling and the aggravation. If someone that wanted it more got that promotion instead (or even someone who filled a quota), that’s just fine with me.

  4. David Sims says:

    “This is despite a huge amount of data that would appear to indicate the opposite, that, in particular, there is significant overall pay discrimination based on race and gender. The difficulty is that while statistics show that women are paid roughly twenty percent less than men, those are aggregate statistics, and both sides dispute them for different reasons.”

    There is no discrimination based on race or gender. There are, however, different pay scales for different kinds of work.

    In one of the major cities of Canada a few years ago, the local government passed a law that required workers pushing vacuum cleaners across carpeted rooms in air-conditioned buildings (most of whom were women) to be paid the same wages as were being paid to workers whose job was to break up concrete and asphalt with jackhammers in the hot summer weather (most of whom were men).

    The law led to a lot of men quitting their jackhammer jobs and applying for jobs as vacuum cleaner pushers. Nobody wanted to bust concrete and asphalt anymore, since cleaning carpets was much easier physically, as well as more comfortable environmentally.

    The law was quietly repealed.

    In fiction and computer games, it is easy for authors to write physical and behavioral equality into their stories.

    (The Elder Scrolls Online, in particular, goes way overboard in making women appear more competent than men are in all matters of leadership. “Towering females, cowering males” is how one player put it. Another player said that it is like having a pie shoved in your face every time you turn around.)

    Perhaps over time, authors who do this persuade themselves that what can be so in fiction is also so on the real planet Earth among real human beings. The tendency might be helped along by liberal attitudes that are poorly informed by historical, scientific and medical data. But there’s an easy remedy to liberal attitudes, provided that the afflicted liberal is honest.

    Review data on times to complete the 100-meter and 400-meter sprint, as well as the marathon. You’ll discover that male champion runners consistently run faster than female champion runners, and the difference is not a trivial one. The average record times in the 400-meter sprint for all of the continents is 43.85 seconds for men and is 48.91 for women. Men are 11.5% faster runners than women.

    The paragraph to follow is off-topic, but it is related.

    Review crime statistics, and you will see an even larger differential in crime perpetration between the races. Liberals make many excuses for this, but none of them can stand up to close examination. For example, yes, blacks have been slaves. But so were the Irish, almost contemporaneously. At one point in history or another, many non-black groups were slaves, but once the chains were off they didn’t need centuries to bounce back. The chances are that IQ test scores mean exactly what they seem to mean, just as the times of sprinters mean exactly what they seem to mean. All of this hoopla about “stereotype threat,” or whatever the fashionable excuse is presently, is just so much nonsense: a fig-leaf for errors in the dogmatic leftist worldview.

    Even when men and women share the same job (in the sense that they work together in common purpose), women usually don’t share the load equally with men. Female forest rangers and firefighters are notorious for being unable to keep up with their men coworkers or exert enough bodily physical power to do the most difficult tasks that they might be called upon to do. Further, women aren’t even as willing to try as men are to do the dangerous.

    There was a video showing a simulated firefighter rescue, a test of sorts for firefighter recruits. A strong=looking woman hurled herself at a blocked door over and over, never quite able to overcome the resistance that was holding the door shut. Along come the men, and each of them crashes through that same door, one after the other. Naturally, television didn’t air that video, but it can be watched on Youtube.

    When female forest rangers encounter really difficult circumstances, whether a fiercely burning building with someone trapped inside or a bad-tempered bear that needs rounding up, do they handle the problem themselves? No. They pull out their portable radios or their cell phones and call for male co-workers to deal with it. And afterward, back at the station, the men and the women are given medals of exactly equal size and the praise is carefully worded in such a way that implies that both sexes were equal partners in handling the emergency.

    And this falsehood is just how it is presented to, and then by, the mass media.

    There is no gender discrimination in pay scales in the workplace. Or, if their is, it is biased against men in the sense that men are underpaid, relative to women, per unit of value put into the workplace effort.

    1. I’m sorry to say that your analysis only works if it’s applied to areas where physical strength is required, rather than skill. Recent analyses and studies of wages and compensation in the tech industry show that males are paid more, often even when their [scarce] female counterparts contribute as much, if not more, while undergoing a considerable amount of harassment. I’ve seen the same sort of discrimination in the medical profession as well.

      As far as “racism” goes, it’s not about “race,” as I’ve pointed out more than a few times. It’s about group and subgroup culture. Blacks have had high achieving and successful cultures; they’ve also had abysmal ones. So have whites, asians, and others.

      1. Mark says:

        Actually, if you look at studies of recent graduates in the tech industry, females are getting paid more and are more likely to be hired regardless of qualification. Males tend to dominate farther down the career path. But that can be explained by women being more likely to make sacrifices at work for family, and a study showing that females are less likely to ask for a raise than males.

  5. Molin says:

    The problem is not just that women work different occupations than men, or that physical limitations may mean that women can not do a particular job as well as men, but that women get paid less for the same work.

    There is a professor at the University of Oregon who had to sue to get equal pay. She even has tenure on her co-workers, but is paid less than they do. This is the problem. She has the same or greater qualifications as her male co-workers in her department, does the same job, teaching, and is paid less.

    Here is an article with the details

    You can not tell me that she can’t do the job as well as her male co-workers, or that she is physically unable to do it, or that she puts less into her job than the men, so she should be paid less.

  6. Devildog says:

    I for one would be interested in the data because based on my experience, I have not seen the pay discrepancy that some people claim. Maybe it is more common at the higher levels of management or maybe at the higher levels of research. I do remember one anecdote form a couple of years of ago where an actress complained that she did not get the same pay as her male actors and the roles were similar. The studio owner (a woman) stated that she should have negotiated better. Do you think it is matter of negotiation skills?

    1. Molin says:

      It could be. It could also be that in the past, women started at a lower salary, so if the pay rates went up at the same rate, they are still making less.
      Also, there is still a stigma about women negotiating a pay raise. She’s seen as too forceful, or too ambitious, if she negotiates like a man.

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