Newly proposed legislation pending in Congress touted as giving women a new weapon in the battle for equal pay as well as protecting workers from retaliation could just be the final straw that breaks the American competitive sprit, if passed.
The legislation, dubbed the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” is designed to keep companies from responding against an employee who discusses sensitive salary information with another employee.
It would also mandate that owners prove differences in pay scale are not related to someone’s gender but instead to business necessity and performance on the job.
The operative word here is prove.
I’ve been operating private businesses that deal with vendors and employees, and have sat on boards overseeing non-profit organizations for nearly 40 years. I’ve been a part of hiring, working with, and seen first-hand thousands of men and women of all ages, races and any other category you care to divide people into. As with any situation or experience there will never be exactly the same set of circumstances for every individual, in every walk of life. Every person and every situation is unique. Does discrimination happen? Absolutely, I’m sure it does, but is it rampant across all organizations? No, not even close.
The idea that government will ride in and save the day for women and down trodden workers who are forced to work for unfair wages is just another political gimmick, sugar coated to dull the competitive edge of the American worker. Like a tenured teacher or a super star athlete who was just awarded a big time multi-year contract with a large signing bonus, once you remove the competitive edge, in what some call leveling the playing field, you’ve effectively lowered the bar and removed all motivation to exceed the norm. The norm is what you’ll get.
Performance and production are critical to American industry. Self confidence and sheer competence are traits that keep employers and employees focused on reaching the same goal. If you are capable, work hard and produce desired results you become indispensable to your employer — that is unless those same skills at a lower rate of pay are readily available in the market place. Each of us must distinguish ourselves with a work ethic, not only to an employer but more importantly to yourself.
If you feel you are underpaid for the job you perform, find a new job or better yet start your own business. That’s the spirit this country was built on and it’s exactly the same in all walks of life and in all organizations large and small. But if you lack confidence in your abilities or aren’t interested in the highly competitive world we live in today, but want the same pay as someone similarly employed, this legislation is just one more anchor around the neck of this country’s economic engine. Fending off lawsuits and seeking fairness will stall progress and cause one simple solution — pay everyone the same rate of pay. Once that happens why should anyone compete when we will all be treated the same regardless of output?
Parent and teacher advocates have been warning us for years to let our children learn failure at a young age when the stakes are smaller and can be overcome. Legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act will only perpetuate what kids are experiencing in many facets of their lives where everyone wins regardless of effort. High standards and excellence are only borne out of hard work and a steadfast desire to be the very best.
Yes, “luck” plays a role, but people who are driven find ways to overcome those obstacles. Accepting anything less than your very best puts us on a path to mediocrity and as any athlete will tell you; to compete is an honor but to win is a thrill unlike any other. Just Ask the Raven’s or better yet ask the 49’ers about their motivation for next year. True champions build on adversity.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.