Paying Women their Worth in the Workplace
Philadelphia City Council is currently considering a new bill that would make it illegal for Philadelphia employers to ask prospective candidates about their past salary.
The reasoning driving this potential new law is the belief that by asking prospective job seekers about their previous salary history employers will pay women and minorities lower wages than their white male counterparts, and by preventing employers from asking the question the wage gap will close. The likelihood of this rule having the desired effect is dubious at best.
The bill was introduced in City Council last Thursday with the laudable goal of making a positive impact on the wage gap that exists between white males and minorities and women in an effort to decrease the difference in wages paid to those groups for doing the same jobs. City Councilman William Greenlee introduced the bill stating that, “If you base a person’s salary on what they previously made, that continues the inequities.”
Women are Still Paid Less than their Male Counterparts
According to the United States Census Bureau, nationally, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar that men earn.
There are numerous factors influencing that statistic, including, among other things, the types of jobs women choose. But economists consistently find disparities that are not explained by other variables. Academic research has shown light on the deleterious effect that pay disparity has not only upon individuals, but also upon the national economy as a whole. Diminishing the gender and minority wage gap would have a positive effect on the poverty rates in every state, Pennsylvania included, according to the research performed by Institute for Women’s Policy Research and other organizations.
There is clearly a problem.
The question is whether or not a new law that is largely unenforceable and one who’s impact will be largely impossible to measure is the answer to the problem? This law will make it harder for companies to negotiate salaries across the board since the process begins without a starting salary. Faced with this reality the likely outcome will be lower salaries on average for everyone as companies begin salary negotiations at a significantly lower wage to avoid overpaying for talent.