Introduction Common knowledge has it that each and every individual is in some way unique and hence must be appreciated irrespective of how much the individual is a deviation from whatever is the generally perceived norm. The issue of discrimination in all spheres of human life has been of great controversy ever since the beginning of time. It has however become more pressing in the 21st century with numerous minority and other affected groups standing up to fight for their rights on various issues.
The workplace is often faced with controversial debate concerning various issues. Pay discrimination is one among countless issues encountered in the workplace. In the traditional workplace or job market, several variables exist which are factored into the individual’s pay package. Among the variables include age, gender, whether the job is temporary, permanent or seasonal, minority groups, ownership sectors (whether the organization is public or private), local unemployment rates, and sector of the economic activity. Pay disparities across race and ethnic minorities
Several theories have been postulated to explain inequalities in racial earnings. The conventional theory has it that when there is no rigorous product market competition for a product, employers tend to engage in racial discrimination when giving wages. The neoclassical theory on the other hand suggests competitive market structure is closely associated with lower levels of discrimination (Agesa, Jacqueline, and Darrick Hamilton, 2004). Studies carried out in the recent past by Heywood and Peoples have found some correlation between market concentration and racial wage gap.
Job mobility of the young white man, according to Alon et al. , exerts a significant positive influence on pay rise much more than it does for his colored counterpart (Alon S. and Tienda M. , 2005). In practical sense, the colored young man will earn much less for the same work as compared to the whites in most countries across the world. According to Alon et al. Hispanic and African-American women have lower job mobility compared to European women but more so if they are less educated (Alon, Sigal, and Marta Tienda, 2005).
It is also noted that unskilled women who change jobs frequently within the first five years after dropping out of school or graduating incur wage penalties beyond the shopping periods. The unskilled colored woman will also earn less than the unskilled white woman in the same trade and working under the same conditions. General consensus has it that large ethnic and racial differences in educational qualification during periods of rising rewards to skills are fundamentally responsible for rising wage differences among women.
Higher wages are generally drawn by white women compared to their Afro-American and Hispanic counterparts. Hispanic women, however, have emerged as the greatest victims of racial wage discrimination. Highly educated women are generally better committed to market dynamics compared to those who are less educated. Colored women receive less job offers, often of low quality which offer lower wages possibly due to their weak social networks, slack job market conditions and statistical discrimination. Work experience is yet another major factor considered in the determination of the individual’s remuneration (Figart and Kahn, 1997).
It is not clear how much the level of the woman’s experience contributes to job mobility but it is one main factor that has contributed to the widening gap of black-white earnings. These same conditions apply to men. It can hence be inferred from the facts above that for illiterate women, ethnic and race wage differences partly are derived from differences in group compositions and resulting more so from the frequency of job changes. In view of the facts thus presented, it can be noted that by increasing opportunity costs and worker’s market options, educational achievement may help in realizing higher job mobility and better levels of pay.
Policy and group interests After examining the effect of group interest on attitudes and ideological beliefs towards redistributive policies across gender, Garcia et al. note that group interests influenced neo-sexist and meritocratic beliefs and support for affirmative action that are gender based and whose policies are worthwhile (Garcia, Donna, 2005). According to research, women and men differ in ideological beliefs for redistributive policies only when they had conscious experience with the set policies.
It is hence conclusively noted that those with policy experience express attitudes corresponding with the gender group’s interest. Government regulation and regional differences While in western countries child labor is unacceptable, some argue that as long as employment is voluntary, it is acceptable the working conditions not withstanding (Rothstein R, 2005). It is notable that working in sweat shops especially in Asia and Africa has contributed to some extent to higher living standards of both men and women; young and old.
Nicholas Kristof in his view states that working in sweatshops is one of the best possible alternatives for children and women who would otherwise starve or engage in morally unacceptable activities. Many other businesses like sweat shops actually find cheap labor in employing minority groups, children and women to work under miserable conditions. The working conditions however vary with geographical areas and government regulations concerning the working environment. When choosing sites for establishing manufacturing and other industrial facilities, labor costs must be considered.
Firms will therefore find it more economical to settle for areas where labor costs are as low as practicably possible. Enforcement of a domestic minimum wage, some argue, may go a long way in improving living standards of the low income earners but in effect could increase levels of unemployment. Wage Disparities across rural and urban residents Commuting is a known factor considered in wage distribution in some countries (Hazans, 2004). Commuting in Baltic countries reduces employment and urban-rural wage disparities while in the short run increasing national output.
Holding all factors constant, wage gap between rural and capital city areas, and between capital cities and other urban centers is significantly lowered by commuting in certain cases but remains almost constant in others. The different outcomes experienced can be explained by analyzing spatial patterns of commuting that are country-specific, occupational and educational composition of traffic flows. Yet again, the presence or absence of pay discrimination exhibited against rural residents who trade in urban markets also affects the outcome. Pay disparities across Gender
In his article, Gilbelman explores wages of women in human service sector within a wide composition of occupations and clearly shows that pay differences continue to thrive between women and men (Gilbelman M. , 2003). These patterns, he argues, exist based on diverse patterns of gender segregation despite several policy initiatives that date back to the mid 1900s civil rights period. It is beyond debate whether or not women are subjects of discrimination in the workplace. In 1998, census data clearly showed that for every dollar paid to a man, a woman in the same position would make 73 cents.
The pay gap witnessed in many company pay scales is commonly attributed to the reality that women are expected to give attention to familial obligations above what they do at work. This demand has often led women to opt for lower paying jobs albeit with flexible working hours compared to their male counterparts. The issue of comparable worth is one that continues to haunt the modern 21st century organization. Organizations that lobby for equal pay across gender suggest that governments should set a standard wage for each job, but also insist that such discriminative activities should be taken out of the company’s pay scales.
Conclusion It is a reality that to date the pay gap between various groups of people have not been closed. Of greatest prominence in this era is the discrimination in remuneration packages offered across people of different gender, race, age, ability/disability, and experience and education levels. While it is widely known that the Equal Pay Act, which was signed into law in 1964, makes it illegal to pay lower wages to women for a job strictly based on their sex, this is widely violated across the United States of America and most other countries. Many organizations have maintained the status quo.
Conventionally, wages should be paid on the basis of merit, quantity and quality of work, and other demonstratable differences seniority. Professional and public education, targeted policy practice and professional advocacy are notable ways of dealing with problems associated with pay disparities between different groups. The government together with human rights groups should come up with guide notes with the aim of educating the masses on possible causes of unequal work pay while further giving recommendations for companies to implement equal pay reviews and perform continuous audits.
The government however must further enshrine legislative acts to deal with cases of discrimination within the nation’s legal framework. In this respect, it must be noted that the individual, groups, organizations and governments have a role to play in changing the common state and working toward achieving better strategies for deciding remuneration levels based more specifically on performance levels. Creating positive change in respect of pay disparities is definitely an achievable goal with very little investment costs if any.
The main step is in creating awareness and convincing the masses to take steps towards fighting all forms of pay discrimination. References Alon S. & Tienda M. 2005 Job Mobility and Early Career Wage Growth of White African American & Hispanic Women Social Science Quarterly Blackwell Publishing Ltd 86 pp 1196-1217 Garcia, Donna M. , et al. Opposition to redistributive employment policies for women -The role of policy experiences and group interest British Journal of Social Psychology 44-4 Dec 2005) pp 583-602 Rothstein, R. (2005)
Defending Sweatshops Dissent (00123846) 52. 2 pp 41-47 Agesa J. and Hamilton D. 2004 Competition and Wage Discriminations- The Effects of Inter-industry Concentration and Import Penetration Social Science Quarterly (Blackwell Publishing Limited) 85. 1 pp 121-135 Gibelman, M. 2003 So How Far Have We Come Pestilent and Persistent Gender Gap in Pay Social Work pp 21-33 Hazans, M. 2004 Does Commuting Reduce Wage Disparities Growth and Change pp 360-390 Figart M and Kahn P 1997 contesting the market pay equity and the politic of economic restructuring Wayne State University Press pp 125-200Sample Essay of PaperDon.com