As we know, women have nearly always been paid dramatically less than men in the workplace, and eventually women would take to the streets to demand equal pay. As a result, in 1963, the “Equal Pay for Equal Work Act” was passed, promising to women throughout the country that discriminating pay based off of sex would be prohibited in the United States of America.
However what the bill lacked was any real way of enforcing such a promise, and 50 years later equal pay for equal work is still a dream to most women. And again women have started to take to the streets to receive what they were promised over 50 years ago.
This problem persists in situations where a structured pay scale does not exist. Most companies have an idea, or a range that they are going to pay a potential employee before they ever meet the candidate. That possible salary range will only be determined by the hiring manger and the employee at the time of hire.
This point in time is where a candidate will be discriminated against in every possible way known to man, both intentionally and unintentionally. Everything from race, to color, creed, an accent, sex, your level of confidence, your choice of clothing, body weight, and even your hair is going to have an effect on your potential pay at that company. While yes an employer is looking at your experience and employment history as a guide, they are also looking at your previous pay as a guide to how much to pay.
This is the way most people have known for a very long time and they believe it is just and right. People argue that these things are and can be important factors, but they are not. These habits of determining pay are just ways of discriminating, and at the end of the day, you will still be doing the same job you were hired to do regardless of your sex, body weight, confidence level, and so on.
On the other hand, if one were to look at any place that has a structured pay scale, they would see less and less of a discriminated pay gap varying only on the pay structure itself. During the hiring process at a company with a very structured pay scale, an employer is not worried about how much to pay their employee, but if the employee is cut out for the job and at what level they can handle the job, (apprentice, journeyman, master).
For an easy example of this, look to the military. In the military, pay is based on rank and years of service. This does not leave room for discrimination to enter, (although the military does not allow women into combat and they do not receive combat pay, this is not pay discrimination but job discrimination, (these are two different things and should not be confused with one another and mixed together), ). Other companies that have pre-structured pay scales have less, (if any), pay gaps, and when interviewing an applicant concentrate more on whether an applicant can preform the functions of the job and not on how much to pay them.
Beyond the Interview
Another way pay discrimination rears its ugly face, is with periodic pay increases. These pay increases are usually based solely on the manager and his or her personal opinion of the candidate. This too has always been commonplace and seems legit for many reasons, but the truth of the matter is that it comes down to the managers own opinions and not on measurable fact.
If the manager feels the candidate deserves more money or not, is completely based on whether they are impressed by them or not and may or may not reflect the actual work done or performance of the employee. One place this has been seen is with Walmart, where recently women were trying to fight against discriminated pay. In situations like this, most all candidates started out with exactly the same pay, but over the years some people would receive 50 cent raises, and others 10 or 15 cent raises and many women had claimed that they were being paid significantly less than the men around them.
As you can see, these periodic raises easily allow discrimination back into the fold. A simple way to prevent this is to structure it again. Pay increases of set amounts after certain time periods, production bonuses based on measurable production standards, and so on. And if an employee has so many years with the company and the employer really doesn’t feel they are worth the pay increases, then get rid of them. No need to argue about if the employee really deserves the raise, if they are not worth it, then find a better candidate.
In my personal experience, these pay increases are not even needed if a tiered pay structure is already in place. For example, if someone is hired as an apprentice secretary, (and the company has a apprentice, journeyman, master system in place), then after the manger feels the employee is ready, then they simply promote the employee thus eliminating the deliberating of how much to increase their pay by and squashing the discrimination possibility right there. Also, this prevents someone who is not worth being promoted from having regular pay increases that essentially promotes them anyway.
In any situation where someone feels they are being discriminated against and being paid less, they have to file a case and then prove that they are being discriminated against. This can be hard if not impossible to prove due to when it goes to court the court would ask “Why is this person being paid less?”. That is like asking someone “Why were you late?”. As anyone knows, a person can come up with any number of excuses as to “Why this” or “Why that”, and in court this allows the employer to spout out nearly anything to excuse their unbalanced pay, “The employee is slow”, “They lack enthusiasm”, “The other employee does this or that”. Even with two candidate with identical resumes and experience, an employer can always find a reason to justify different pay.
I could make excuses for actions all day long, but that doesn’t always justify them. On the other hand, with a structured pay scale, proving discrimination becomes easier and more clear. If you have two candidates doing the same job and one is still being paid as an apprentice after an unheard of amount of time then discrimination starts to become clear and easily combated.
I am not a big fan of long and confusing bills and laws, and I strongly feel that any of them that are too lengthy are trying to hide something that is not helpful to the law or to the people and their expectations of that law or bill. Obamacare for example, where the same government officials that voted for it, also voted to have themselves excluded from it.
With this in mind, I would like to propose an act to end the problem with sexual and racial pay discrimination, as well as pay discrimination in general, and bring this chapter of our long laundry list of problems to a close. With these two sentences, more can be accomplished to end pay discrimination than has been accomplished in over 50 years and many many pages of laws and bills. I give you,
The Equal Pay For Equal Work Enforcement Act
An employer must pre-structure pay rates, pay levels, and requirements for raises, for employees prior to the individual employees being screened or interviewed.
Periodic raises must have a structure that measures facts rather than opinions.
Thank you for reading, and please spread this around to your friends and family that would like to help end the discrimination.
Christopher Allen Ellingsworth