Friday, April 11, 2014

A Dollar Is A Dollar - Or Is It?

Pay equity certainly has people talking these days which is a good thing, right? We have an opportunity to understand, reevaluate, and equalize something as simple as the definition of a dollar between men and women. After all a dollar is a dollar - or is it?

The composite figure cited by the White House as $0.77 earned by women versus $1.00 earned by men brings up many questions - and much angst. Sure there are reasons for pay differences, but the bottom line is there are gaps where there shouldn't be. We might get a headache from looking at the details, but that's where the devil is so let's go there - to the details.
Tracking and Reporting Pay Equity

Highlights of Women's Earnings - a report published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics - tracks the history of pay equity from 1979 forward. The latest report was published in 2012. Data captured in the report (the head-splitting kind) includes major categories such as age, race, ethnicity, education, occupation, parental status, location, and hours worked - plus data tables.
Does each of these factors make a difference in pay equity? If so, how much of a difference does each one make? Do these factors explain why a dollar doesn't equal a dollar for women and men - when all factors are equal? Answers in order are: yes - it depends - NO!
Women's Earnings as a Percentage of Men's (1979 - 2012) shows the gap closing, but there's still a ways to go. Notice the dip approaching 2012. Definitely moving in the wrong direction.

Median Usual Weekly Earnings (2012) shows a more granular view of gaps - most significant among White and Asian populations, but still not winning any stars for other segments of the population.
Percent Change in Constant Dollar Weekly Earnings (1979 - 2012) shows that education makes a significant difference in pay. However, the spread for Bachelor's Degree or Higher is 11.1% favoring men.
Distribution of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers (2012) shows the types of occupations held by women and men. Women carry a majority the work load in all areas (based on population) except Sales, Natural Resources, Construction, Maintenance and Production, Transportation, Material Moving. This view makes pay equity even more critical.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) was signed on June 10, 1963, but we seem to be stuck 50 years later. The law permits differences in pay for "seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or a factor other than sex." Considerations for equal pay for equal work include skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions, and establishment.
The EPA requirements are reasonable and insightful so why is it so difficult for companies in aggregate to comply?
To be continued...

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