Monday, April 11, 2016

My BloombergView Comment To "The Real Reason Women Still Get Paid Less" by Cass Sunstein

My comment to BloombergView, "The Real Reason Women Still Get Paid Less" by Cass R. Sunstein:
Wages, which are the basis of the studies of men and women work pay, are not the same as total compensation. Total compensation includes the value of hard dollar benefit packages, such as employer paid healthcare, dental and eye care, health club membership, paid sick, personal and vacation days, subsidized daycare, flextime, employer paid pension (401k, etc.) payments, etc. The publicized men women wage ratio does not include the value of different benefit packages among different companies and industries. There are indications in the studies that men gravitate towards industries and companies with higher pay with lesser benefits, while women forego more wages for companies and industries with better benefit packages. There are also indications that there are soft dollar benefits that women prefer more than men, such as less out of town travel, less unplanned overtime, less work on weekends, fixed scheduling, less night work, jobs with lower injury and death rates, etc.

Studies need to look at total compensation cost to employers to see if the costs of employing women are less than the costs of employing men before any claims about discrimination are made. Unfortunately, the studies that claim a wage gap do not look at total employer costs. The US DOL did a study a bunch of years ago and found the wage gap disappears when non-wage costs are considered.

Soft dollar lifestyle job considerations must also be valued and included, such as frequent and sometimes unexpected travel away from home, unplanned overtime, the need to take work home or work on weekends, and job injury and death rates.

Unless a study values all job characteristics and benefits, any claim of a male-female wage gap or of job gender pay discrimination is meaningless; Studies finding a wage gap are most likely a product of incomplete compensation data than they are of employer gender pay discrimination. If the wage gap were not the case of incomplete data, US DOL would be filing and winning 100s of wage discrimination cases, which it is not doing. If women were truly paid less, then all companies would be actively hiring many more women including women executives to improve their profits and companies with more women in their employ would be selling products at lower prices and putting their competitors out of business.

The reality of the workplace is that men and women choose different job characteristics with different wages, but on whole the total employer costs, hard and soft benefits, and wages, are equal for men and women.

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