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Thanks, Ann. Your blog also served as a reminder that although the Ledbetter bill has been enacted, the Paycheck Fairness Act is still waiting in the wings.

It is indeed ironic that although pay transparancy is traditionally recommended as a solution to pay equity challenges, most employers who have implemented affirmative initiatives to correct improper gender-based pay inequities must keep it secret. Bragging about what they had done would only have prompted demands for retroactive pay for past improprieties and inspired class action suits for back wages. Fewer than a dozen major employers went public in the GAO report "Description of Selected Nonfederal Job Evaluation Systems," GAO/GGD-85-57, July 31, 1985, available from either GAO or the Gov Printing Office, on pay plans that were both externally competitive and internally equitable from a protected class status. ("Gender" is a shorter word than "protected class", so I tend to use it, instead.) I am personally aware of many more that took corrective steps but did not publicize it, for fear of attracting lightning.

This is an area where good deeds are punished by all sides. Remember also, that, absent any legal compulsion, a board of directors exercising their fiduciary responsibilities to the shareholders would be precluded from taking any steps to "close the gender gap." How DARE they waste good shareholder money to correct "inequities" supported by The Open Market and The Courts?

Some clever quiet pioneers have managed to create highly competitive environments where protected classes thrive and are paid far more than their peers elsewhere. Word gets out, and they get better value output for their equitable input. It is probably in their short-term interest if others do NOT match them, because then they would lose the current advantages they hold. The vast majority of all employees are technically "protected class" members, you see. Think about it.


I know what you mean. It is even more ironic (and a sad reminder of just where we have come to as a society) that many employment attorneys will advise their clients against an initiative to discover and correct gender-based inequities, because doing so creates "risk" for that employer.

And so, even attempting to see the legislative efforts in this regard in a "glass half full" way, as creating pressure for employers to do the right thing, ultimately fails. The increased pressure makes it even more risky for them to attempt to discover and correct problems.

Which brings us, as you note, to the place where good deeds are indeed punished by all sides.


You're welcome - and you're right. While Congress is still in session, the PFA waits in the wings. And, who knows, if not this session, maybe the next. Must remain attentive!

Thanks for all the valuable links and insight from around the table.

I would have hoped (long ago) that the topic of Equal Pay would be a thing of the past by now.

My conjecture was that younger people would have come behind us with a sense of equality. While the younger generations (X, Y, Mill.) seem to have acquired a status of equality in social terms, they have not progressed to a great extent when it comes to pay. Why do you suppose that is?

I wonder if the shifting values of the younger generation - away from a work dominated culture - have created an indifference with regard to pay.


Thanks for stopping in and sharing the thoughts. You ask good questions. Here's what I think. I think the gender pay equity problem is a complex and multi-faceted one, which is one of the reasons that it is so tough to combat. And although I would agree that most, if not nearly all of us (old as well as young) believe in and support equality, these good intentions don't necessarily translate automatically into equal pay - again, because the roots of pay inequality are so complex and tangled.

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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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