In a stroke of magnificent political intrigue, the Obama administration has gotten several U.S. companies to sign a pledge indicating that they promise not to pay women less than men. Among the big names were Apple, Facebook, Target and General Motors, who all made the pledge yesterday which also happened to be Women’s Equality Day. But are women really being paid less than men?
The U.S. Census Bureau reports women are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. But many critics have claimed that this notion is dubious when the study is controlled for levels of education, job title and years of experience. So who is right? It would be odd for a money-making enterprise in steep competition with other profit-driven concerns to worry about paying women less than they are worth. For instance, if a woman’s labor yielded the same amount of value as a man’s and you could get away with paying them less, wouldn’t every company have a policy of hiring women in order to drive up profits?
Proponents of the women’s income inequality myth will argue that there are inherent blocks to the progress of women that are due to social norms that pervade within certain establishments. Well, let’s say that is the case, how can the free market ameliorate this situation?
If our society is really interested in income equality among the sexes, they should pay for it. Yes, they should vote with their dollars. How? Why not create an organization that goes to corporations and asks them to let them take a gander at their payment structures based on sex. Once the analysis is complete, this same organization can render a grade for how much parity there is between salaries of employees based on payment. Of course, if they are going to be fair, they should base this on exact duties and titles, or else it will not be a fair comparison. Once they render their grades, society can decide to shop or invest in those companies that are “fairer”.
Now, this may sound strange, but the idea that a company should hire women or minorities to achieve some social goal, is sort of unreasonable. Companies have a mandate to their shareholders to maximize profits. To complete this mandate with inclusion arbitrary social goals that do not equate to increased profits in the bottom line is literally a waste of time and money. If proponents of women’s pay are so adamant about the payment structures that exist, they should set up a venture fund that invest in woman-run enterprises. I mean the last time I saw The Huffington Post’s boardroom, there wasn’t a guy in sight – and I am completely fine with that.
Lastly, at a time when our government is riddled with debt it cannot pay back, a country with collapsing infrastructure and failing public school system, you would think that there were more important priorities for the Obama administration instead of trying to convince companies to try to achieve some illusive social goal. Tax dollars fine at work!
Gary St. Fleur
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