The latest American Working Conditions Survey from the RAND Corporation highlights the finding that most US retirees would take advantage of an opportunity to return to work, and that retirement-age employees opt to remain in the workforce not so much because they can’t afford to retire, but because they enjoy working—especially as they report having more meaningful work and more flexibility in their jobs than their younger co-workers. Steve Vernon explores the study’s findings at CBS Moneywatch:
The AWCS found that more than two-thirds of older men and women reported satisfaction with work well done and felt they were doing useful work. Prime-age women reported about the same level of satisfaction, but only a little more than half of prime-age men reported these same levels of satisfaction.
Older workers are also more likely than prime-age workers to say they apply their own ideas and solve unforeseen problems, and they’re less likely to report that they perform monotonous tasks. Older workers are also more likely to report workplace flexibility than their younger peers. College graduates in particular are more than twice as likely to determine their own work schedules as their younger counterparts are.
Older workers do also have practical rationales for delaying retirement, the survey found: Doing so allows them to delay when they start collecting Social Security benefits, which increases their expected lifetime payout. Older workers may also choose to stay at work for the health insurance benefits they receive from their employer, which reduce their out-of-pocket health care costs (the largest expense for retirees), or to participate in workplace wellness programs that help keep them in good health.
Last month, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced that it was putting on hold a rule proposed by the Obama administration in 2016 that would have required organizations with more than 100 employees to submit summary pay data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year showing what employees of each gender, race, and ethnicity earn. This reversal relieves employers of what opponents say are overly burdensome and costly regulations that would do nothing to address pay gaps.
For large employers in California, however, that relief may be short-lived. At the firm’s blog about California employment law, Seyfarth Shaw attorneys point to a piece of legislation that went to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk this week that would “require companies with at least 500 employees to compute differences between the wages of male and female exempt employees and board members located in California and file the report with the California Secretary of State,” which would then publish this information for public view:
If the bill is signed by Gov. Brown, beginning on July 1, 2019, and biennially thereafter, impacted employers will have to collect and compute:
- The difference between the wages of male and female exempt employees in California using both the mean and median wages in each job classification or title.
- The difference between the mean and median wages of male board members and female board members located in California.
- The number of employees used for these determinations.
This information would then be reported to the California SOS by January 1, 2020 (and biennially thereafter) on a form categorized consistent with Labor Code Section 1197.5—the California Fair Pay Act (“FPA”).
The bill, they add, does not establish that a gender wage gap in this information is a violation of the Fair Pay Act, but opponents claim it would not need to, as it “effectively forces employers to hand over to potential plaintiffs all information they might need to file a lawsuit, without any context that would explain permissible differentials.”
Last year, an alarming report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found that the gap in income between black and white Americans had grown from 1979 to 2015, with black men earning 22.0 percent less, and black women making 34.2 percent less, than white men with the same education, experience, and geographical location. A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco confirms that finding, showing that the black-white wage gap has been growing and furthermore, that economic factors do not explain why.
The hourly wage ratio of the average black male to his white male counterpart shrank from 80 percent in 1979 to 70 percent in 2016, the San Francisco Fed finds. Black women earned 95 percent of what white women made in 1979, but that has gone down to 82 percent in 2016. While some of the gap can be explained by attributes such as location, education, working hours, job type, etc., the reason for its growth is less tied to those factors and economists are struggling to explain the increase. The Fed says this “implies that factors that are harder to measure—such as discrimination, differences in school quality, or differences in career opportunities—are likely to be playing a role in the persistence and widening of these gaps over time.” Eshe Nelson at Quartz adds:
In fact, additional research by the San Francisco Fed showed that black people with bachelor’s degrees saw the earnings gap with their white counterparts increase by more than for high-school graduates. … Ultimately, it seems that discrimination—whether in the “unexplained” category, or more structural racial bias that exists in educational systems and elsewhere—is widening the disparity in wages between black and white workers. Time alone will not close this gap, researchers conclude. … time seems to be making it worse.
One factor that may also account for the recent rise is that black workers are hit harder by recessions and recover more slowly than the rest of the labor market. It’s very likely that the cumulative effect of the recessions of 1987 and the late 2000s reversed, or even worsened, any progress made from the late 1960s to the early 80s. Bloomberg’s Jeanna Smialek and Jordyn Holman idenfity why this is such a problem:
Three women have filed a lawsuit against Google, their former employer, in which they accuse the tech giant of systematically discriminating against women in pay and career development, and their lawyer is seeking class action status for the claim, the Associated Press reported on Thursday:
The suit, led by lawyer James Finberg of Altshuler Berzon LLP, is on behalf of three women — Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri — who all quit after being put on career tracks that they claimed would pay them less than their male counterparts. The suit aims to represent thousands of Google employees in California and seeks lost wages and a slice of Google’s profits.
“I have come forward to correct a pervasive problem of gender bias at Google,” Ellis said in a statement. She says she quit Google in 2014 after male engineers with similar experience were hired to higher-paying job levels and she was denied a promotion despite excellent performance reviews. “It is time to stop ignoring these issues in tech.”
The lawsuit, which has been in the works since June, follows an investigation by the US Labor Department that claimed to find “systemic compensation disparities against women” throughout the company. Google has strongly disputed the department’s allegations, insisting that it has no gender pay gap and publishing its pay methodology in April in an effort to refute them, and a judge ruled that the company did not have to hand over all the detailed pay data the government had demanded. Nonetheless, Finberg has said the suit is based partly on the Labor Department’s analysis.
A new survey of ethnic minority business leaders in the UK from the consultancy Green Park shows that racial discrimination remains a serious challenge in the British workplaces, while UK businesses are not making sufficient progress toward meeting diversity and inclusion goals. The survey’s headline findings include that 18 percent of these leaders have personally experienced workplace discrimination in the past two years and that 82 percent of them do not trust their organizations and believe that there is institutional prejudice against minorities in the UK, People Management’s Emily Burt reports:
Meanwhile, just 2 per cent of companies surveyed by Green Park reported that they were meeting their targets for ethnic minority board-level representation, while more than a tenth (13 per cent) said they had an ethnic diversity target but no strategy for meeting it. …
However, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed felt most workplace prejudice was unconscious. In light of this, the researchers recommended that changes in attitudes towards institutional racism must come from the top and not just left to HR to “sort out”. But while 60 per cent of the surveyed ethnic minority leaders said they believed tackling institutional racism had moved up the organisational agenda in recent months, two-thirds of these respondents said workplace language around racism was emotive and made people uncomfortable.
Burt also points to a study published earlier in the year by the University of Manchester, which reviewed 25,000 incidents of racism in the workplace and came to the conclusion “that workplace racism was increasingly normalised,” with nearly 30 percent of surveyed employees saying they had “either witnessed or experienced racism from managers, colleagues, customers or suppliers.”
Meanwhile, the BBC reports on another new study conducted by the Trades Union Congress, which also found that more than one third of black or minority ethnic workers have experienced racism in the workplace:
New data released by the US Census Bureau on Tuesday shows that real median household income increased by 3.2 percent between 2015 and 2016, from $57,230 to $59,039, while the official poverty rate decreased by 0.8 percentage points to 12.7 percent. In absolute terms, that means 2.5 million fewer Americans were living in poverty last year than the year before, but 40.6 million still were. The 2016 poverty rate, the bureau notes, is only slightly higher than the 12.5 percent rate recorded in 2007, the year before the Great Recession began.
US workers’ incomes are also close to fully recovering from the recession, Aimee Picchi adds at CBS Moneywatch, with last year’s figures “just 1.6 percent below what households earned before the recession started in late 2007, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank”:
“We’re back to where we were before the recession,” said Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, which focuses on poverty research. “You have an economy that has flat-lined for people with a high school degree or less since the 70s and flat-lined for the middle class during the last 20 years.” …
HR leaders from dozens of organizations attended a session on women in leadership at our ReimagineHR event last week in London. Participants in the session, a majority of whom were women, expressed frustration with the fact that so many organizations worldwide are still having trouble advancing gender balance in their leadership. When asked why they thought this was the case, the attendees identified two main themes: bias and flexibility.
The Impact of Bias on Talent Management
According to our research, if you are human, you are biased: The human mind takes in 11 million pieces of information per second, yet we can only consciously process 40 pieces of information per second. Because of this discrepancy, bias is inevitable, particularly unconscious bias. People cannot be counted on to effectively and consistently catch their own biases. To solve this problem, organizations should focus not only on removing bias at the individual level, but also at the level of process. You can’t prevent people from having biases, but you can mitigate the impact of those biases on the decisions your organization makes.
Many of the participants at ReimagineHR are taking new approaches to addressing bias in talent management. We often hear about organizations working to remove bias from the hiring process by removing any identifying characteristics from an individual’s application or resume, but some participants in our session said the opposite approach had been working for their organizations. These participants shared examples of how they actually leveraged data on women’s representation in their talent pipelines to raise awareness of gender gaps.