Friday, March 14, 2014

This article articulates the challenge women face when they learn they are paid less than their male colleagues for work of equal importance.

Ellen Ewald is telling her story at the Minnesota State Capitol in hopes of passing a bill to extend pay equity requirements to state contractors.

The Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota supports her 100%!

Patty Tanji

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Getting the most from your pay system

Employers must be prepared to defend their pay systems. Put a company-wide system in place so that decisions about pay are not made in a vacuum and are aligned with the company's strategic purpose. 

We suggest the use of multiple tools for pay setting: 1. "market rates" derived from salary surveys; 2. "performance pay" derived from assessing individual employees; 3. "job evaluation" ratings which provide internal equity by comparing levels of skill and responsibility across all jobs in the company.

Problems can arise when those systems are not well documented and objective - and since that information (about the tools or the salaries themselves) is usually not transparent either within or outside the company, very few people even inside the company can be sure the system is fair, objective, and has gender-neutral impact.  That factor alone explains why employers are vulnerable to lawsuits, in which a complainant can ask for more information about the process which may have resulted in large-scale inequities with regard to gender, race, etc.   "We did not intend to discriminate" is not going to be a satisfactory response.

While all those systems, presumably well documented and explained to everyone, are perfectly legal, one reason for the rising interest in job evaluation is that it has been proven as a useful and well-documented tool for identifying and eliminating gender pay inequities in Minnesota's public sector. In contrast, it appears that "the market" (often not well documented) is the primary system used. Minnesota's two public sector laws state that "compensation relationships are equitable" when "the primary consideration in negotiating, establishing, recommending, and approving compensation is comparable worth value in relationship to other employee positions within" the company.  In other words, state law requires that job evaluation (internal equity) takes precedence over salary surveys ("the market") is pay setting.  Of course exceptions are allowed for "recruitment difficulties" or "retention difficulties," when supported by facts.  

Most companies now use three systems, and that's OK if they can be documented & assessed to make sure there's no pattern of lower pay for women. But we advocate for much greater reliance on job evaluation than on salary surveys, which are more likely to import the kind of sex bias (however unintentional) that has perpetuated the earnings gap.  

Bonnie Watkins, Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota member.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fair Pay For Women Public Policy Agenda

Vision: The gender pay gap is eliminated.

Mission: Work toward public policy that accomplishes the following:

·      Women are paid equally as men for work of comparable value.
·      Work that is traditionally “women’s work” is valued by society and paid accordingly.
·      Poverty among women and single-parent households is reduced.
·      Women make choices and learn skills that result in higher pay.

Causes of the Gender Pay Gap:

·      Societal under-valuation of women-dominated professions.
·      External comparisons of pay and job titles that perpetuate past inequities.
·      A lack of attention by employers of internal pay differentials by gender.
·      Job and educational degree segregation.
·      Non-union jobs leading to lack of employee advocacy pertaining to pay.
·      Hours worked/attachment to workforce.
·      Salary negotiation skills.
·      Lack of employer transparency in employee compensation.
·      Sex bias. Sex bias plays a role in each of the above causes, but according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, differences between workers and their jobs explain about 60% of the pay gap, leaving 40% likely solely attributable to gender discrimination.
·      Combined sex bias and racism dramatically increases the effects of these factors on women of color and immigrant women.

Public Policy Agenda:

·      Encourage private industry to incorporate pay equity principles.
o   State contractors’ pay equity legislation.
o   State certification of “fair pay employers.”
·      Increase minimum wage.
·      Prohibit retaliation for discussion of compensation/require private employers to disclose salary range information.
·      Encourage the Minnesota Dept. of Human Rights to provide more visible support for both proactive and complaint-based efforts to enforce existing equal pay laws.
·      Affordable childcare.
·      Paid maternity and family leave.
·      Require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.
·      Appoint OESW Executive Director.
·      Legislative resolution calling upon Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
·      Encourage women and girls to pursue STEM education and women entrepreneurs to start businesses in traditionally male industries, including STEM industries.
·      Ensure that existing opportunities for women-owned businesses through the state Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program are properly and fairly administered.
·      Provide women with training in salary negotiation skills.

·      Maintain and defend Minnesota’s state and local government pay equity laws.