Friday, December 17, 2010

Defending Pay Equity in Minnesota - A Call to Action

Pay Equity Friends,

On December 10, 2010 The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce ( released its findings regarding public employee compensation. One of their many recommendations is:

"State pay equity/comparable worth law should be repealed. Its purpose is outdated, and requiring governments to correct perceived “errors” in labor markets based on bureaucratic and subjective assessments of the relative value of government jobs is an unnecessary and costly mandate." (, p.7.)

We, of course, do not agree. The purpose of the state pay equity/comparable worth law is to eliminate “discrimination against women who are paid less than men for jobs requiring comparable levels of expertise.” ( It is very likely there will be legislation introduced this legislative session, which begins January 3, 2011, in response to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and NAIOP Minnesota’s recommendations. The Chamber of Commerce is the state’s largest business advocacy organization.

The State Government Pay Equity Act and the Local Government Pay Equity Act were passed in 1982 and 1984 respectively. The Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota is dedicated to defending the laws and ensuring they are not weakened or repealed.

Both pieces of legislation have been very successful in putting more money into the pockets of hard working women in the public sector. These laws go far beyond the concept of equal pay for equal work – which we know has been largely ineffective in terms of decreasing the wage gap between fulltime working women and men. According to a report released in June, 2010 by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Humphrey Institute: “White, African American and Latina women earn $0.76, $0.61 and $0.56 on the dollar, respectively, compared to white men”. ( The State Government Pay Equity Act has helped to eliminate this gap for state employees -- except for $.03 of it!

We can use your help! It is important that our side is represented at the State Capitol this winter. As much as we look to our volunteers for help, it is important that paid professionals come to our aid as well, and that requires money.

If you or your organization can help, please send your check donations to our fiscal agent:

Minnesota Women’s Consortium
550 Rice St.
St. Paul, MN 55103
Check tagline: Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota

Please contact me any time if you have any questions about the efforts of the Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota. We are also available to speak at your events.


Patty Tanji

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minnesota Public Employee Compensation is Under Attack

More money troubles are brewing here in Minnesota. On December December 10, 2010 the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce released its report on public employee compensation. Here's the link on their home page.

AFSCME Council 5 responded on December 11, 2010. Here's the link to their response:

Briefly -- it looks like the Tax Payer Association has pegged Minnesota public employee wages as too high and AFSCME Council 5 thinks they are just fine.

Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota will respond to the Chamber's report shortly after we get a chance to mill it over.

Stay tuned.....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pay Envy and What to Do About

Check out Chris Walker's response in the comments. He ran a quick salary check using I've cut and pasted his response here. Thank you Chris.

"Check the salary calculator at I ran a calculation on male & female accountants in Akron, OH with the same education and experience. The calculator uses 12 datapoints, here's the results:
MALE 'Your salary survey data results for Accountants in Akron, OH:
There are 2910 persons employed as Accountants in Akron, OH.
Entry level range salaries (The 10th percentile) for this occupation are $38850
The median salary for this occupation is $57220.
The top earners for this occupation have an annualized salary of $90850
Based upon the information that you have provided, the market will likely offer you an annual salary of $62700'

FEMALE:'Based upon the information that you have provided, the market will likely offer you an annual salary of $49100.
As a reference, a person who is not subject to any gender bias or racial bias, with the same qualifications as those listed by you is currently earning an annual salary of $62700'"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pay for Performance leads to Bias

This is a study done by MIT researcher Emilio Castella. I found the article's link at You may have to subscribe as a member to get to the link. This website is worth it -- and its free as long as you don't mind the occasional email touting a book or a conference or webinar. I've actually attend two webinars as a result of joining the 'free website.

The study concludes what is becoming more and more obvious to those of us following equitable compensation practices. The practice of wage setting must be as open and transparent as possible. In this study employees who received similar performance ratings were in fact not given the same pay raises. The folks who were responsible for setting pay took the liberty of fine tuning the pay adjustments. The same formula was not applied to all employees resulting in bias. Oops.

Here's the MIT sloan link:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Motherhood and the Wage Gap

Just found this article courtesy of the Society for Human Resource Management. See link above.

I found this section of interest, especially the last sentence:

"Previous studies on wage differences by gender have found that roughly half of an observed 20 percent gender gap cannot be explained by the usual factors that drive wages, such as experience, hours worked, occupation, industry, age and the like," said report co-author Beata Caranci, deputy chief economist at TD Economics. "The research leads us to conclude that exits from the labor force, most often related to family or motherhood—not gender—are the culprit behind this 'unexplained' wage gap."

Here's what I know -- one of the logical properties of equality we learned in high school math....

The transitive property states:

* For any quantities a, b, and c, if a = b and b = c, then a = c.

Wage gap logic:

Exits = 'unexplained' wage gap
family or motherhood = Exits
'unexplained' wage gap ≠ family or motherhood

The math doesn't add up to me. Also, I presume motherhood still means female since 99.99999999% of mothers are women (could be more but I'm leaving room for speculation).

I just really can't draw any more conclusions around this report. I'll let you try. Feel free to post a response.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Costco Salaries Online

I've been searching for tools to make payroll processes transparent. I came across this list of Costco salaries -- all posted anonymously. I'm not sure if this was done by an outside third party or if the process is blessed by Costco internally. Either way, it gives employees and potential employees an idea of where they fit or could fit in terms of pay within the organization. I think this is a step forward into instilling transparency into payroll processes -- but the goal - in a completely open payroll process is for everyone to know what everyone earns and why. This is the only way to avoid litigation and build trust into the system. Think Lilly Ledbetter -- who found out she was paid a great deal less than her male colleagues -- from an anonymous note. Ledbetter's salary and those of her male colleagues were so grossly disproportionate to each other that the only recourse for Mrs. Ledbetter was to sue her employer. The problem would never have escalated to that level if her employer were open and honest about pay. Time to stop hiding behind payroll secrecy. And, can we please get rid of pay bands while we're at it! But, that's for another post.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Word About Minnesota Pay Equity Practices is Getting Around and Some Folks Don't Like It

This article (click above) and the latest census data is not news. We have always known, in Minnesota, that women and men are paid similarly early on in their careers. We also know that in some tiny markets like Minneapolis, as compared to the country as a whole, young women are fairing better than their male counterparts. The gap widens as women and men progress in their careers for many of the reasons addressed in this anti-pay equity opinion article. The market has a funny way of treating the work that women do. Quite simply the market (a bunch of people making decisions about pay) undervalues the work women do for a gazillion different reasons -- some rational, some irrational.

Let's take a look at this sentence from the opinion piece:

"The state of Minnesota has precisely such a board, which at one time held that a delivery van driver and a clerk typist had to be paid the same wages because they did "equal work." "

I have to say the above sentence is full of inaccuracies -- which I won't address -- except to say that the way pay equity works for local governments in Minnesota is a combination of:

1. similar pay for work of comparable value for each job class
2. market wages,
3. seniority,
4. merit

I think the general public would be bored to tears if I went into the statistical analyses that goes into every pay equity review. You will also be surprised to learn that the 'board' is one person. But if anyone wants to learn the details of what local governments are required to report every 3 years-- and wants to take me out to lunch or have a cup of coffee -- let's talk.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Publishing Employee Salaries - Help Gender Pay Inequities?

In Minnesota local governments report job classes, whether or not the job class is female or male dominated or neutral & pay ranges for that job class. Why? To determine if there are any patterns of paying jobs dominated by women less than jobs dominated by men that are of similar work value. But, what if each individual salary was published like it is for the province of British Columbia?

In the province of British Columbia all 30,000 salaries are published annually. For those of you who wish to see it to believe it check out:

P.S. Conventional wisdom would have us believe that knowing everyone's salary acts as a demotivator. I believe the opposite is true -- not knowing salaries increases the level of distrust between employee and employer and increases the likelihood of pay inequities. This is true for any internal equity issues -- not just gender.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seems there will be a new "Collaborative Governance Council" at the Minnesota State Legislature. According to Minnesota's Revisor of Statutes, the participants (not all known to be friendly to pay equity) are:
(1) League of Minnesota Cities;
(2) Minnesota Association of Townships;
(3) Association of Minnesota Counties;
(4) Minnesota School Board Association;
(5) American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 5;
(6) Education Minnesota;
(7) Service Employees International Union; and
(8) the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

.....and their purpose is:

(a) The council shall develop
recommendations to the governor and the legislature designed to increase collaboration
in government. These recommendations may include, but are not limited to, strategies,
policies, or other actions focused on the following:
(1) the review of statutes, laws, and rules that slow or prevent collaboration efforts;
(2) the use of collaboration to improve the delivery of governmental services;
(3) the use of technology to connect entities and share information, including
broadband access;
(4) the modernization of financial transactions and their oversight by facilitating
credit and debit card transactions, electronic funds, transfers, and electronic data
interchange; and
(5) the creation of model forms for joint power agreements.

The Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota will monitor this group in order to protect pay equity statutes in Minnesota.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pay Equity in New Mexico Moves Forward

There is a great deal of information for New Mexico state contractors on the state of New Mexico's website at:

"Effective July 1, 2010, businesses seeking new contracts with any Executive Branch state agency will be required to comply with the requirements of Executive Order 2009-049, to aid in identifying and combating pay inequity and job segregation in the State of New Mexico, as a condition of being awarded a contract. Background and compliance information, as well as the necessary reporting forms, may be obtained from this web page. "

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Winding Down the 2010 Minnesota Legislative Session

I realize it's not over yet -- but I want to thank the Policy Corps fellows of Grasstops for monitoring the committees for us this year. No major threats to Minnesota's pay equity laws I'm happy to report.

Thanks also to our coalition members for keeping your eyes and ears open at the capitol. The women of Minnesota who have received pay raises as a result of unfair pay practices and those who will in the future -- thank you.

Resources for More $ in your Pocket!

If you were not able to join us at Minnesota Business Women's (Un)happy hour on April 30th -- here's what you missed...

On average women in Minnesota make 21 cents less for every dollar a man makes . That’s close to 1 million dollars over a life time. There are many reasons for this phenomenon – today we focus on solutions because we have the power!

Educate Yourself
o to calculate what your job is worth in your area.

o Attend salary negotiation workshops or read any salary negotiation book then practice on a trusted friend. We recommend “Ask For It” by Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever because it is women centered. Workshops are tougher to find unless you are a recent college graduate. Check out Employment Action Center Women’s programs (612) 752-8444 or

Upgrade Your Skills
o Retrain & retool for the future. Attend a RichChicks class – Check out Employment Action Center’s Women’s programs (612) 752-8444

Public Policy
o Call Senator Amy Klobuchar (202-224-3244) and Senator Al Franken ((202) 224-5641) and ask them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill helps close loop holes in the Equal Pay Act that made it difficult for women to win claims of pay discrimination. As a matter of fact only 15% of all discrimination claims are ever won! Patty Tanji, President Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota’s Advise is: “Do not sue your boss!”

The above acts will help but won’t completely eliminate the gender wage gap until the work of women (that includes caregiving) is considered as valuable as the work of men in our culture – enough so that we are willing to pay for it – all of it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Equal Pay Day Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Equal Pay Day is recognized annually by pay equity advocates around the country. In many communities in Minnesota and in the United States, equal pay day events take place to call attention to the wage gap between full time, year round, working women and men which is about $.22 (men earning more). Additionally it takes women about 15 months to earn as much as men do in 12 months, so creative events such as "unhappy hours" occur in mid-April. Check out Minnesota Business Women's 'unhappy hour' on April 30, 2010, 5:00-6:30 p.m. -- sponsored by Rich Chicks. The event takes place at the Crowne Plaza North in Brooklyn Center. The website is:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

U.S. Senate Hearing Paycheck Fairness

There will be a full U.S. Senate committee hearing -- 'A Fair Share for All: Pay Equity in the New American Workplace' March 11th at 10:00 e.s.t.

You should be able to view the hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee at:

If this doesn't work goto:
-- and look for the appropriate hearing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pay Equity in New Mexico

Governor Bill Richardson Directs State Government to Ensure Gender Pay Equity, Lead New Mexico to Equity Goals (12/8/09)

SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson today signed an executive order directing agencies under his control to report annually and remedy any gender pay gaps among their workers, and establishing a firm schedule and process for private contractors with the State to do the same.

The Governor’s directives come from recommendations by his Task Force on Fair and Equal Pay, created last year to examine gender and racial pay equity and job segregation within state government. Dr. Martha Burk, the Governor’s Senior Advisor on Women’s Issues, chaired the Task Force, which was composed of members from the private and public sectors.

“Eliminating the pay gap that all too often prevails between men and women is a top priority of mine,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “New Mexico is taking the lead among the states to greater pay equity in the larger workforce and economy. Our actions can serve as a national model. This is an important economic justice and civil rights issue, and common sense requires it.”

Today’s executive order directs all state executive agencies to submit reports on pay equity annually beginning next year. Where pay gaps exist, agencies will submit plans to overcome any non job-related pay gaps.

Beginning July 1, 2010, vendors and contractors of 10 or more employees will file a pay equity report with the State of New Mexico every year. By next fall, a working group appointed by the Governor will develop and issue a point system for incentivizing progress toward pay equity in the scoring of Requests for Proposals, and other bidding processes for State of New Mexico work. The State Personnel Office will provide technical assistance to agencies, contractors and prospective contractors for complying with this Order.

A survey by the Governor’s task Force found gender pay inequities in New Mexico state government are less than the national average.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

PECOM -- Minnesota 2010 Session Begins

Pay Equity Friends,

We're gearing up for another legislative session.

PECOM's 2010 initiatives:

1. Defend current pay equity laws. Monitor appropriate committee activity and be ready should attempts to weaken current laws surface.

2. Educate Minnesota legislators and the public on the current pay equity statutes.

3. Act as consultant to state and municipalities around the country who look to Minnesota as leaders in pay equity.

4. Monitor any initiatives that affect women's economic well being such as paid sick days and job creation incentives. Additionally, encourage any new jobs created in our state be in compliance with current pay equity statutes.

We appreciate our volunteers and hope you will continue to support us. Additionally, in order to execute our initiatives we are undertaking the fee based services of policy consultants.

If you or your organization can help us monetarily please send a check to our fiscal agent:

The Minnesota Women's Consortium,
Tagline: Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota
550 Rice St.
St. Paul, MN 55103

Don't hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.
Also, please let me know if you know longer wish to receive notices from the Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota. Send me a note at

Thanks everyone,

Patty Tanji
Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota