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Ann, a very complete and well thought out and written analysis. I hope this will prompt many to look into this. Perhaps it will also change a few minds of the people who thought this was a good thing.

Ann - One of the reasons I LOVE working with you is that you are so very gifted at demystifying comp and making topics that appear complex simple and rational. This is an outstanding post on a critical topic for anyone in HR and Business leadership.

Mike:

Thanks for the comments, and for laying the foundation here. I hope you're right, that through our posting we can convince more HR people to get up to speed on this proposed legislation.

Peggy:

Thanks - I appreciate the comment and feedback. Trying to take the mystery out of compensation is what makes blogging fun for me! Just as you demystify the whole career thing!

I read the Act and failed to find anything worthy of the C of C's ominously hysterical exaggerations about ignoring the Market. This is the same organization that has historically misrepresented every attempt to rectify centuries of proven discrimination against women and other protected classes, because it does not serve the interests of its members. Of course... Hey, they're a union and a lobbying enterprise.

Anyone who really studies The Market knows its weaknesses... it is totally amoral. The Market reflects and perpetuates the bias of its sponsors and will unblinkedly maintain systemic discrimination. Race discrimination was partially/mostly eliminated only through Affirmative Action. There has never been any affirmative action for women and other historically underpaid classes. The old self-adjusting Market often simply DOESN'T, when its operators continue to act from biased stereotypes. Nurses have been in shorter supply than engineers for a lot longer and the response has not been commensurately higher wages but instead imported talent and the replacement of RN functions by lower paid proxies, as it was for secretaries and other short-supply female-dominated positions. The pay of dentists has fallen relative to other medical professions as the female percentage increased to the tipping point, per Don Treiman and Heidi Hartman's Part-Correlation research for the NAS many decades ago. Their formulae are still valid.

Even the old ACA report in the early 1980s, by Chuck Shanie I think it was, on the pay of compensation association members proved it, because the last factor in the stepwise regression formula was... after you multiplied, added, etc., for all the positive standard skill, effort, responsibility and working condition factors that everyone knows ... to subtract 14% if you were female. Long story short, a Market approach can merely perpetuate historical discrimination ... because if female-dominated jobs have always been paid 86% of male rates, the surveys will continue to accurately predict the same bias. It's called systemic discrimination.

Granted, The Market rules that you can never pay below replacement-cost levels... but that same Market permits male-WASP jobs to be grossly relatively overpaid out of the savings from the tighly-constrained minimums paid to others. The problem is in the maximums, not the minimums. And with the psychology of the victims, who have refused to take up the axe handles of the men who bridled at the inequities they suffered.

None of this, of course, implies goverment control of job evaluation or pay classification... but the rules should be fair and not set according to biased principles. Every employer should be permitted its own unique pay structure as long as it is neutral in its treatment of protected classes. THAT's the real issue... and this legislation would promote that ideal. IMHO, of course.

Here's what gets me; people who attempt to set the market price arbitrarily without full consideration of all the facts. For example; year after year 93% -94% of all job related deaths occur to men. That's because men take on the dangerous and difficult jobs that are necessary for maintaining our country's infrastructures. How does an office worker in an air-conditioned room deserve 'comparable worth' money equal to those working the difficult jobs, sometimes under the most trying environmental circumstances?

What about the long-haul trucker who is frequently away from his family for days-at-a-time? How do you compensate for that? Unfortunately, so many market issues like this are given short shrift by those with agendas.

If women were 50% of construction workers, oil-rig operators, etc, etc (you get the picture) than there would not be a (bogus) gender gap. Factor in that men on average work 5-6 more hours a week than women (Dept of Labor) and you have the REAL REASONS for any monetary differences between men and women. Logical and objective people know this, dogmatists do not!

It is wrong to say that IT and engineering job personnel demands outstrip supply, either now or in the future; in fact quite the opposite is true. Please see Norman Matloff's web site for clarification, he is a computer science professor at UC Davis who specializes in H-1B and age discrimination issues.
Also I worked both as a programmer and an engineer for many years, and I know from observation and experience that Matloff is correct.

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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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