Pay Equity

It was a report that the President and Congressional leaders hoped would never be made public. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had commissioned a study of federal salaries. The study was initiated by a concern that the federal government was losing a lot of good people to the private sector. The lure of great benefits no longer worked in recruitment as the federal government had drastically reduced benefits as a part of an effort to reduce the cost of government.

OPM lured the most prominent salary administration firm in America, The Maxwell Group, to do the study. What the Maxwell Group did was remarkable. Never before had there been a more thoughtful study of compensation.

Maxwell developed an analysis that looked at value added impact of different jobs. Basically the more impact a job had, the more the job was worth. The results were revolutionary. Nurses employed by the Veterans Administration had a much higher impact score than engineers in the Corps of Engineers. School teachers employed on military bases and Indian reservations had higher scores than accountants who worked in the General Accounting Office in the various Inspectors General Offices.

What made the study so challenging to deal with was the structural change it would have on salaries in the federal government and eventually in the private sector. The study brought new light to pay equity. It wasn’t hard to imagine the new phrase of pay equity becoming the next big national controversy.

The effect on the national economy could be dramatic and potentially devastating as salaries needed to be adjusted.

Just imagine how pay equity might transform occupational categories which are in short supply (e.g. nursing, teaching)? Just imagine how pay equity might change traditional gender roles for some occupations? Just imagine how pay equity might create a sense of worth for those in high impact occupations?

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Now pay equity has everything to do with pay and nothing to with equity. It’s based on the vague notion of equal pay for work of equal value, which is not the same as equal pay for the same job.” – Stephen Harper (former Prime Minister of Canada)


*This message is not based upon actual events but is more exploratory of what might be.

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