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why would the company pay less to women? I don't mean to put it this way, but are the women just stupid in not asking for an appropriate salary? ignorant? Or is there some other impediment? What is the justification on the company's part? Companies wouldn't do this for an arbitrary reason - if I'm an employer, I would want to pay as low as I could while getting the help I needed (employment is not a right), and if one group accepts less I don't see any issue there, assuming all other requirements/benefits etc are equal (they are in government).

If you're a no-name employer seeking the best employee adjusted for cost then it certainly makes economic sense to hire from a "less desirable, lower compensated" pool of potential employees whether it be women or minorities or immigrants. Indeed, a lot of businesses do just that - successfully tapping certain pools of talent (some manufactures link themselves to female hispanic talent, etc.)

It's a win-win for both side: the "less desirable" potential employee is gainfully employed and the employer gets a better worker for the buck.

But if you're Starbucks and your brand and sales are somewhat tied to the of-the-moment social justice beliefs of the "latte class" then it also makes sense to strive for pay parity even it's partially artificial and potentially has downside effects for the economy as a whole (or minority and women employment prospects across the economy).

And let's admit that it's a grating sensation to realize that one does just as good a job as someone else but earns less because of factors beyond one's control.

Some of what Starbucks does seems fine:

We do not ask candidates about their salary history. Starting pay should be based on the candidate’s skills, abilities and experience, not on a prior salary from another employer.

If a minority or female employee, in order to get into the system, takes a lower wage that low wage unfortunately can serve as a guidepost for future wages and the employee often never catches up ...

Part of the problem as I see it is the unnecessary tendency for companies and their supporters to insist that there own terribly expensive preferences should be universally adapted. Sometimes it's not even the companies fault: witness all the social justice warrior doofuses who insist that Wal-Mart should pay like Costco despite a very different business model.

OTOH, the answer imho is not to throw shade at companies like Starbucks who are focused on improving the work environment so long as they don't put themselves up as an example for all businesses. More experimentation - within existing labor laws - the better.


Years ago orchestras started blind auditions to minimize bias against women candidates. Truly the candidate who plays the best should get the job. But it wasn't so.

I like the above link because it notes that "blinding" addresses biases besides sexism (less conductor student bias for example).

Long story short - bias sucks. If Starbucks wants to ignore previous pay or use "impartial" pay calculators they should go right ahead. Surely the results will be problematic but that doesn't mean it's not a better answer than the status quo.

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