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Anne you've raised a very valid point. I don't necessarily agree with the current legislation, but I do understand some of what has driven the legislation. I have seen pay decisions made because a higher-up liked someone better than another person, sometimes because of their gender.

So perhaps the better legislation would be compensation policy transparency. If decisions had to be justified to the larger workforce, like in your example, it would likely keep the decisions more in the realm of business necessity rather than personal preferences. Then we could still have market-based pay driven by business needs without the worries about inequity due to bias.

Even if proven discriminatory in favor of women, your case would not be ILLEGAL discrimination. But I don't see your example as discrimination even though it's female-dominated, because it is has a valid business necessity reason and is open to all.

The policy structure you described is more generous for the CertHealthTech job, but "matching the highest rate in the peer position" is a relative thing. If CertHealthTech incumbents in the outside market are paid less than any other position at the company, then maybe being paid "only" at the median (50th percentile) would be still be a lot higher in absolute amount than the highest (100th %ile) in a low-paying job classification.

What you describe is uncommon only in its extreme application and in its transparency. Most employers target different percentiles (or make different market sample selections) for different job families. Your favored comparison groups tend to vary between jobs. That essentially creates the same situation you presented, although it is typically only clearly understood by the compensation specialists who engineered the matching protocols. On the other hand, I've given cities reports detailing the precise market percentile target used for each municipal position's target rate; those were publicly disclosed and were never difficult to justify. When you go transparent, you make sure your stuff is bulletproof. Sunshine cures most ills.

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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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