Equal Pay Can Be A Double Edge Sword

equal pay

I firmly believe that a person should be earning the same salary for the same work no matter what gender they are, and yet, this equality comes at a price. That price is often the difference in getting or not getting an offer of employment.

Having lost a few jobs recently to women who have less experience than I do, I started to notice a rather odd coincidence. I am calling it a coincidence because I really don’t want to believe it is the reason they were chosen over me. However, having compared notes with a few other colleagues looking for work, both men and women seem to agree with my unfortunate conclusions.

For some jobs, it is the price of compensation that makes the real difference. Experience is seen as a costly choice, and one that can be traded for less compensation along with less experience. For employers who believe that women will accept lower compensation to get an offer, they lean toward hiring and negotiating with women. One of my executive recruiter friends said that women will often accept or negotiate lower salaries to get the offer and employers lean toward those candidates.

He further said that women that know their worth and have strong negotiating skills are often put in the same pile as their male counterparts. Only if an employer cannot find their bargain hire, do they start sifting through this second pile of applicants.

So if you are open to accepting lower compensation, you have a much better chance of getting a job offer. But if you are not, then you remain unemployed. While the goal for every applicant is both employment and equal compensation, when the choice is employment over unemployment, compensation takes a back seat.

While I cannot yet see where mandatory laws to force equal pay for every job is a winning proposition for anyone, I am also not ready to concede that leaving things as they are now is such a winning proposition either. When we accept lower compensation as a trade for employment, we are doing ourselves harm. But if we need a job, maybe the tradeoff is worth it.

What are your thoughts?


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