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If Presidential Candidates’ Pay Reflected Work Force Realities…

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

As U.S. senators, front-running presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama each earn $169,300 per year. But what if pay rates in the Senate reflected demographic realities of the modern American work force?

Then Clinton would make $130,361 a year, while Obama would earn $125,282.

As Americans survey a presidential field that includes either a woman or a black man running against a white man who has adopted an Asian child, it may seem that the country has finally put racial issues behind it.

Yet, 40 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, women and minorities still do not reach management positions in the same numbers as white men. Their salaries consistently lag far behind white men. And even in an era when women have achieved educational parity with men, they're finding those degrees are worth less than those earned by men.

American business as a whole is begging for a civil rights lawsuit. Consider the numbers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every dollar of salary paid to white men:

  • Women earn 77 cents
  • Black men earn 74 cents
  • Asian-American women earn 78 cents
  • Black women earn 63 cents
  • Hispanic women earn 52 cents.

Find more statistics like these here.

Women are earning their college degrees in record numbers, but still haven’t cashed them in the way men have. Among people ages 25 to 34, 45% of women have college degrees, compared to 36% of men. But median income for women in this group is 14% less than for men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Some experts explain the pay gender gap by noting that women do not go into lucrative science and engineering fields in the same numbers that men do. But some question how large a role social pressure plays in keeping women away from those traditionally male-dominated fields.

Despite more than three decades of diversity initiatives, the results are spotty at best. Consultants who counsel businesses note that many diversity initiatives fail because they lack support among top executives. Companies use the right buzzwords and claim to seek women and minority recruits. But, unless they have a high-level champion, those efforts often founder, leaving the work force less diverse than before.

Advice: Employers often need to get away from the idea that short-term diversity initiatives solve long-standing systemic problems. Instead, hiring a more diverse work force comes from a sustained cultural change involving active recruiting among women and minorities. Employers that can show this type of continuing commitment to diversity will also fare better in court should they face a discrimination lawsuit.

Final note: What about the other remaining major presidential candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee? He draws a modest state pension and earns fees for speaking engagements. As he is fond of reminding voters, he’s the only candidate left whom the American people aren’t paying to campaign.

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