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Oh Ann, this one hits fairly close to my heart. Last month I learned (a few years late) that "Secretary's Day" has been legally changed to "Administrative Professionals Day," and not as a simple exercise in semantics. Rather, the term is a real reflection of the exponential growth in the responsibilities and skills we now require of "support staff." And the pay level has failed to advance accordingly. For complicated reasons. These positions are overwhelmingly staffed by women, many of whom are still willing to apply for and accept poorly-funded jobs. Some because they have spousal support, some because they are coming back on the market after staying home with children (or after having gone through a divorce). Many, many of them tend to undervalue their own skills and abilities.

And, because money is a symbol that functions, the low pay of these positions inevitably leads to a pretty-much-universal low esteem or value that employers place upon them, as well.

Therefore, this is one of those areas, like public education, where I'm not quite content to set compensation by market forces. Particulary (!!) as these positions are increasingly important in a world saturated with more and more data, information and communication which needs to be professionally handled, along with a growing dearth of decent customer service.

AB - Thanks for your comments and bringing a fresh perspective to the complicated issue of fairly compensating jobs in the female-dominated field of administrative support. With the entry of men into this field (although still in proportionately small numbers) and the increasing difficulty that I know many organizations are facing in filling these roles, the market is beginning to exert its forces here - but not yet in ways adequate to address the issues you describe.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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