Is the Gender Pay Gap fake news?

The whole world of business talks about Gender Pay Gap as if it is a universal truth.

A whole industry along with academic research sprung up over the last decades to investigate, evaluate, and remediate the politically correct assessment that women are paid less than men for the same work even with comparable experience/qualification. The internet is steaming with research, articles, opinions supporting this ‘truth’. Critical voices are drowned or ridiculed.

The results of all this hysteria, as measured in closing of the gap, is negligible

Allow us to look at this affair in a bit more detail.

First, what does it even look like? Let us quote Bryce Covert who noted in an article for Think Progress, “While white women experienced that 78 percent figure, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women made 65 percent of what white men made in 2013, African-American women made 64 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native women made 59 percent, and Hispanic women made just 54 percent. Asian-American women are the only group doing better than white women, making 90 percent of white men’s earnings.” Okay, that’s for the US. But let’s not get hung up on this pay gap between women.

One fundamental assumption of the whole Gender Pay Gap discussion is very strange indeed. And it is never mentioned. The Pay Gap is measured against (white) men. This has to assume as fundamentally given, that all (white) men are being paid the same wage for the same job when having comparable experience/qualification. In short, it is given that there is no pay gap among (white) men. Well, we do not know in which world this assumption runs true, but not in this one.

We have worked now for over thirty years as trusted advisor for a huge variety of client companies in more than fifteen countries and on all continents, and the wage gap between men in the same job with comparable experience is exactly as big as any towards women, it is, for all purposes, gender neutral. While it is true that women were frequently not at the top of the range, they were also rarely at the bottom. The wage gap narrows considerably in low paid non-managerial jobs, increases with wage levels, and widens immensely in managerial environments – the same phenomena are observed in Gender Pay Gap studies. And whilst there are innumerable studies and opinions why and in what form the gap exists towards women or minorities, there are none about the gap among men. (Or, in general, about gaps among people of the same sex/color/creed.)

So, is it morally right to pay women less than men for the same job/work whilst having comparable experience/qualifications? Definitely not.

Well, is it morally correct to pay men differently for the same job/work whilst having comparable experience/qualifications? Neither.

People should be paid the same wage for the same job/work if they possess comparable experience/qualifications regardless of their sex, color or creed, this should be self-understood.

A Wage Gap is knowledgeable discrimination. And in many countries, there is actually a law against that.

But Wage Gaps existed for decades and continue to exist. Why?

We believe, there are fundamentally two reasons, one, the discussion was hijacked by the wrong agenda – gender, diversity and inclusion – which despite substantial hype, research, political bow-wow, has achieved near to nothing in closing the ‘gap’, and two, we think more importantly, secrecy.

The question all the Gender/Ethnic Gap research asks is, in my respectful opinion, fundamentally the wrong one. The issue is not why Gender/Ethnic Wage Gaps exist, the issue is why do Wage Gaps exist. Period.

It simply is not a gender nor ethnic issue.

Wage gaps exist to a very large degree because salaries are not transparent. Therewith hiring managers get away with murder – so to speak. Wages and the rationale for wage allocation should be fully transparent within an organization.

Whenever we advised a client on remuneration strategy, we made it a priority for the Top Management to understand that a successful remuneration strategy involves complete transparency at all levels. Despite considerable skepticism and objection at the beginning, the utter success and sky-high people satisfaction with the new remuneration environment quickly confirmed our insistence on transparency as being correct and fundamentally necessary. And that held true even in countries/cultures where this approach was initially greeted with a strong ‘not here, not in our culture’ at all employment levels.

Magically, it was the major contributor to the disappearance of all wage pay gaps – gender and other.

As long as wages and rationale for wage allocation are not transparent at all levels within an organization the gaps, whether gender, ethnic or other, will not disappear. Period.

Heresy? We do know that this opinion goes against established wisdom, but here we are, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ – as they say.

We do invite discussion, as we firmly believe it is morally unacceptable to pay people differently for the same work/job if they possess the same experience and qualifications.

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