Breaking the cycle of wage discrimination
This week, Rosa Goldenshon interviewed me for her Crain’s article on new legislation that attempts to level the playing field for women by banning city employers from asking potential hires about their salary histories. Here are my thoughts:
“Best in class” companies are increasingly performing compensation analysis and tying set pay packages to job titles rather than allowing personal negotiations on salaries, according to Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of consulting firm YWomen and the former director of diversity strategy at The Coca-Cola Company. But smaller businesses without robust human resources departments will have a harder time because they often base hiring salary on the previous history.
“From a women’s standpoint, these types of laws are outstanding,” Halter said, noting that women are frequently paid less than men with the same job titles because they fail to negotiate, take time off for having children and are shortchanged by subjective performance evaluation systems. “From a business standpoint, it becomes really challenging to monitor and implement. Because at some point we are going to have to talk about money.”
Joel Stashenko of the New York Law Journal interviewed me for his article “Employment Law Experts Question Bill Banning Salary History Questions for Job Applicants”
Background from the New York Law Journal: The New York City legislation was submitted to the City Council by Public Advocate Letitia James, who has promoted the idea of eliminating employer reviews of job applicants’ salary histories based on her argument that using employment histories as a factor in hiring perpetuates existing wage disparities.
In a 2016 report, James found that women in New York City earn approximately $5.8 billion less than men in wages each year, or 87 cents for every dollar that men make. The discrepancies were greater between earnings by white males and minority females, the public advocate’s report found.
A major factor in the discrepancies was that prospective employees were often paid wages based on what they earned in their old jobs, the report found.
“Asking questions about salary history during the hiring process perpetuates a cycle of wage discrimination,” James said in a statement just before the City Council vote.
The new bill allows prospective employees to volunteer information to their would-be bosses about how much they are currently paid.
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