the problem with wage equality . . . .

. . . . is that employers will pay you as little as they can.

The problem with wage equality, doesn’t lie with employees but with employers.

At the recommendation of a friend I have been reviewing some of Jordan Peterson’s works and found one topic particularly interesting, the issue of wage equality. One of his arguments for why women earn less, generally speaking, is because they are too agreeable.  There could be merit in the idea that women are more agreeable, I can’t prove otherwise, but I argue that ultimately the decisions on salary rest with the employer and it is in their best interest to keep it equal where work is equal.

In the first portion of my adult life I was a business owner and I employed people.  As a business owner I strategically planned to pay my staff as little as I could.  I was by no means a rich business owner but I saw any excess cash flow as a necessary investment in the future of the business or funds for research and development, not funds to reward employees further. From my perspective, R&D was rewarding my team with employment and interesting work. In any case, my point is I tried to pay my employees a fair wage but that was also as little as possible. This did not sit well with my values and ethics, and I did struggle with it, but ultimately when the funds flowed I would choose R&D over salary raises.

In the real world, business owners often choose their personal wealth (and not enriching R&D) over their employees but I believe they employ the same strategy of paying their employees as little as possible and leverage every angle they can in that regard.  Furthermore, if an employee is willing to work for less, a business owner accepts that position gladly as it enriches the business further as a result.

I see the salary of employees as being linked directly to the level of responsibility they would take and the tasks that they would be completing.  I would pay the same regardless of education if the results were the same for the work.  I don’t believe I saw women as being any different in that regard. I made a choice that a system of standardized salary based on effort and outcomes was fair and reasonable.

The reality of the matter is that compensation for employees is a part of planning.  If an employer thinks that giving one person a raise, because they have threatened to leave or demanded it, but not another doing the same work, it is simply poor planning. The silence of second employee is not agreement and their will be negative consequences of the inequality.

A sound practice to avoid stress for either employee or employer,  regarding fair and balanced compensation, is to have a system in place for expectations and performance.  When employees clearly understand the expectations of an employer (job description, defined tasks & goals) and how their performance will be measured (fairly) against those expectations they are more likely to understand their compensation, assuming it is fairly dispensed to all based on that same system.

Unfortunately sometimes the extras that matter go unrecognized when certain employees will add value to the work place that is beyond/outside expectations but not inline with an employer/manager’s personal interest. In this case it is easy for an employee to feel as if they bring a certain extra energy to the work place that is neither appreciated or rewarded in comparison to other employees who bring difference extras. Example: The employee who regularly tells jokes that management enjoys versus the employee who regularly keeps the work kitchen clean.  In reality the employee who cleans the kitchen is actually bringing good value to the workplace but perhaps it slips below the radar. In contrast the joke teller attracts attention and far too often the favour of management.