- Individuals "who performed distinctive tasks" earned 5% more than other employees in the same organization and in the same job, according to a study from MIT Sloan School of Management. This pay differential could contribute to pay inequality, MIT Professor Nathan Wilmers, of Sarofim Family Career Development and author of the study, said.
- Wilmers said the pay differential isn’t about the task’s complexity, but about the task being different from a co-worker’s. As jobs evolve from one to multiple tasks, skill requirements expand and workers who perform unique tasks tend to command higher salaries, he explained.
- "All else equal, doing tasks distinctive from colleagues makes employees harder to replace,”said Wilmers in a media release. But employers also can't ensure equity by having everyone be a jack-of-all-trades, he noted, because distinctive tasks still need to get done. "For managers concerned about how to ensure relative equality and maintain pay fairness, this is a really important dynamic to watch out for."
Pay inequality is complicated, as the MIT study notes. For example, a Hired global report found that organizations pay women on average from 4% to 45% less than men doing the same jobs. More than half of the women in the report discovered that they were being paid less than men, compared to 19% of men who found out that they were being pad less than a colleague.
Experts, however, previously told HR Dive there are five steps employers can take to avoid pay disparities:
- Have accurate job descriptions;
- Get any applicable union's input on job descriptions;
- Obtain market pay data;
- Eliminate biased language in job postings; and
- Run pay analytics.
Pay equity remains a high-profile issue, and public pressure has resulted in both employer and government action. Notably, at least one study revealed that government-mandated disclosures of pay disparities can help close gender wage gaps. When mandatory reporting is in place, men had smaller raises in comparison to men who worked in firms that did not report, according to research by Morten Bennedsen of the University of Copenhagen, Elena Simintzi of the University of North Carolina, Margarita Tsoutsoura of Cornell University and Daniel Wolfenzon of Columbia University.