Posted by: Greg Huff | February 14, 2017

Rebuttal to “Ask the Headhunter”

Recently there was a discussion on Facebook regarding the Woman’s march. The subject of the “gender gap” came up. I took the position that there is no such gap and one person posted this article that tries to debunk the argument that there is no gap. Though the author claims the statements he makes are fact, they are, after all, opinion.   I answer his conjecture paragraph by paragraph. I am pretty sure the author, being an “expert” and publishing in PBS has never been challenged on his opinion. 

My comments are in red.

“Ask the Headhunter: Women don’t cause the pay gap. Employers do”

BY NICK CORCODILOS  April 12, 2016 at 1:55 PM EST

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Too often women get paid less for doing the same jobs as men. And the reason is not what you’re told. Although it seems to elude the media, the experts, pundits and even some women themselves, the real reason is obvious to any forthright business person: Employers pay women less, because they can get away with it.

By this Nick means employers are still in some cases able to negotiate with women without interference from government on what the employer is willing to pay vs. what the woman will accept as pay. Meaning also the government either has not pointed a gun at the employer’s head or perhaps has not yet cocked the hammer back.

Worse, the same pundits tell women that it’s their problem and that they must change their behavior if they want to be paid fairly for doing the same work as men. But the experts, researchers, advocates and apologists are all wrong. There is no prescription for underpaid women to get paid more, because it isn’t women’s behavior that’s the problem.

There is only one thing a woman should have to do to get paid as much as a man: her job.

Not really, she (or he or anyone) needs to do their job in order to keep their job.

Any employer (except for government employers who do not have to worry about meeting a payroll) will always want to pay the lowest price an employee is willing to accept for their services. A business does not OWE a potential employee a job. They owe their customers a quality product at a price they are willing to pay in order to make a profit for the company.

This argument is the same claptrap liberals shovel out all the time, intimating that women are so stupid, so timid, or incompetent that they are incapable of getting pay they want so there must be laws enacted to make sure they cannot take a job that they want and a salary they are willing to accept.

When doing the job doesn’t pay off, women of all ages should be aware of what younger women today are doing to fight back. According to a recent study by the International Consortium for Executive Development Research, some women have figured it out. Millennial women don’t need instructions to change their negotiating, child rearing, educational or any other behavior to impress errant employers. They know to quit and move on. It’s going to be the new trend.

THIS is entirely acceptable. This is the free market in action. This is what should be being done. It is a risk however and the person doing it may be afraid of confrontation or losing income. That is also part of the free market. Entrepreneurs start their businesses risking many times ALL of their money in order to get their enterprise off the ground. They are not guaranteed a wage and many have sacrificed their own pay in order to pay their employees what has been agreed. They do not, however, always have the luxury of quitting and moving on.

The myths about women causing their own pay problem

Let’s look at what women are supposedly doing to abuse themselves financially.

We can refer to umpteen surveys and studies about gender pay disparity — and to some that suggest there is no disparity. But a recent Time analysis summarizes the data from the U.S. Census and other sources: “Women earn less than men at every age range: 15% less at ages 22 to 25 and a staggering 38% less at ages 51 to 64.”

This has become favorite fodder for the media — and for armchair economists, gender researchers and pundits looking to bang out a blog column. But I think most of the explanations about pay disparity and the prescriptions for how to get equal pay for equal work are bunk.

Depending on what you read, women get paid less because they:

  • Have kids.
  • Interrupt their careers for their families.
  • Don’t have the right education (e.g., math and science), so they can’t get good jobs.
  • Are nurturing, so they don’t negotiate hard for equal pay.
  • Don’t like to argue.
  • Lack confidence.
  • Let their men (who are also managers) get away without doing household chores — so those men don’t know they should pay women fairly.

It’s all speculation and myth, but the message is always the same: If women would just change some or all of those behaviors, they can shrink the pay gap.

I say bunk. Women don’t cause the pay gap. Employers do. So employers should change their behavior.

I say bunk on your bunk. These are all valid reasons for employers to be circumspect about paying women the same as men but let us say a woman is making the same pay per hour worked as a man. Having kids and mothers taking off time to tend to them takes away hours from the job. Many women do take time off from their careers to have kids and to raise them. They therefore come back into the work force with less experience than the man (or woman) who did not take off for their kids.

Things like not knowing their worth, not liking to argue or negotiate because they LACK confidence is something that can be handled by training and drilling. Perhaps this is something missing from their schooling. In any case it is not up to the employer to make up for the employees deficiencies.

In the past year or two, it was pointed out that Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games fame was paid less than many of the male actors on the cast. The Sony (women) executive acknowledge this and said (rightly) that it was up to Jennifer to know her worth and that it was her (the executives) job to keep expenses down.

Jennifer to her credit said: “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early,” I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”

I’ve been a headhunter for a long time. I’ve seen more job offers and observed more salary negotiations than you’ll see in a lifetime. I’ve observed more employers decide what salaries or wages to pay than I can count. And I am convinced the media and the experts are full of baloney about the pay gap between men and women. They are so caught up in producing eye-popping news that they’re doing women a disservice — and confusing speculation with facts.

The above sounds like you are confusing speculation with facts… just sayin’.

Here are the facts:

  • Employers pay women less to do the same work that men do.

Well, there’s just one fact, and that’s it.

This is opinion not a fact. You might want to get clear on the definitions of both words.

Women don’t make themselves job offers, do their own payroll or sign their own paychecks. The gender pay disparity is all — all — on employers, because we start with a simple assumption: A job is worth x dollars to do it right, no matter who does it. It’s all about getting the work done. And the employer decides whom to hire and how much to pay.

Here’s the hard part for economists and experts to understand: Employers decide to pay women less, simply because they can get away with it. The law of parsimony instantly leads us to the obvious explanation: Paying less saves companies money. Everything else is speculative claptrap.

Exactly. It is the employer that decides whom to hire and how much to pay. If I were hiring for my business and I knew I could “get away with” hiring women for less money and they were just a qualified, I would hire ONLY women in order to lessen my payroll.

I have to assume that the argument being made is that employers are bad people for paying women less. If I were doing it men would be out of a job all over the place because I would not hire them, I would let my competition with stupid misogynist in charge of hiring, hire only men at exorbitant prices because then I can eventually run them out of business and perhaps also pick up a few guys who are now willing to take a lower salary and place under my now more experienced women employees.

In the rest of the article the author goes on and on over the same points and I, frankly, found it tedious to continue with it.

You can read the rest of it here:

According to the Cato Institute:Warren Farrell the only man to have been elected three times to the National Organization for Women’s New York board of directors, is the author of such books as The Myth of Male Power and Why Men Are the Way They Are. In his new book, he argues that women earn less than men on average not because they are discriminated against, but because they have made lifestyle choices that affect their ability to earn. Why Men Earn More argues that although discrimination sometimes plays a part, both men and women unconsciously make trade-offs that affect how much they earn. Farrell clearly defines the 25 different workplace choices that affect incomes–including putting in more hours at work, taking riskier jobs or more hazardous assignments, being willing to change location, and training for technical jobs that involve less people contact–and provides readers with specific, research-supported ways for women to earn higher pay.”


You can learn more about Mr. Farrell’s book here:

 Hanna Rosin at Slate has also spoken out on this: “ …The point here is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we’ve missed the actual challenges. It would in fact be much simpler if the problem were rank sexism and all you had to do was enlighten the nation’s bosses or throw the Equal Pay Act at them. But the [more-accurate] 91 percent statistic suggests a much more complicated set of problems. Is it that women are choosing lower-paying professions or that our country values women’s professions less? And why do women work fewer hours? Is this all discrimination or, as economist Claudia Goldin likes to say, also a result of “rational choices” women make about how they want to conduct their lives.”

Mr. Corcodilos, is a headhunter. He has a vested interest in getting the most recompense for his clients that he can. Anything that can persuade or guilt a prospective employer into paying his female clients more is fair game but don’t confuse his endless speculation and opinion with facts.

In short the article he writes and in which he denigrates any actual reasons women might be being paid less as “bunk” is clearly an effort to shut down any dissenting opinion and make less of actual facts. This is, in short, validation to the erroneous idea  of any woman who thinks the problem is “over there”.

A person, male or female, is responsible for the condition they are in…no one else. If you aren’t being paid what you think you are worth, quit and move on or get so good you can demand more. Using Mr. Cordoilos’ excuses are just a crutch that will in reality hobble you and prevent you from reaching your goals and the pay you want.


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  1. Greg,

    I found this very interesting and something I’ve dealt with for many years, so I’ll give you my perspective here.

    The basis for pay is much more complicated than just looking at a percentage of a dollar amount that one group earns over or under another. People often use these simple formulas to sell books, or advice and play on people’s emotions for selfish reasons. That’s what I see happening here with the guy you’ve answered, he is building his business on the back of some knowledge he purports to have, most of which you’ve debunked. As we see in the political arena today, people can be influenced greatly if we give them crutches as to why they haven’t been as successful as someone else. People like him write books offering crutches to people because as the saying goes in the show Few Good Men, “You (they) Can’t Handle the Truth” or at least they are less willing to pay for it.

    Here are my thought on the issue.

    1. The first and foremost responsibility to any person running a business is to the shareholders. Without the shareholders’ investment into the business it does not exist and none of the jobs, salaries or benefits to employees or to the public exist.

    2. That being said, it is in the shareholders best interest to have a viable workforce that performs at a high level and while keeping compensation as low as possible may be necessary it is not usually the primary objective. Cheap employees or employees who always have their eye on the next opportunity are not the employees of a profitable, high performing company. An employer who is interested in being successful understands his/her workforce and delivers a compensation package which creates longevity and high performance. That normally occurs with creating a great environment to work, employee support through good management and great training. When an employer finds great workers they don’t want them to be looking for the next opportunity, they want them happy and pleased with what they are doing, the people they work with and enough control over their job to properly service the people they routinely interact with.

    3. Pay is not always just dollars, it is made up of one’s benefit program, flexibility and demands dictated by the job. I have had the privilege of being involved in several very different workplaces over my career, which resulted in very different compensation and benefit programs.

    · A candy factory that was fairly equally made up of females and males. It didn’t require a lot of heavy lifting and while management tended to be male, it was due to their mechanical education as opposed to their gender. This was a union environment so jobs were allocated on a bid basis with seniority being the primary determinate and yet the jobs that were paid the most were occupied by males, due to the nature of the work. The higher paid jobs were set by the company based on the our ability to find and keep qualified employees in a particular function. As the person who dealt with labor issues I can tell you that most of the issues were with female workers who needed special disposition due to family matters, things that were not covered in the union contract. As a result of not being covered in the union contract, to allow behavior outside the union contract for special circumstances for one individual would have you set a precedent that could create a practice that would be required for all future requests of the same or similar nature. Therefore, in an effort to be equitable on the pay and promotion issue the union contract fell short on the flexibility side. While some might say why are you willing to give something to one person and then not others, it’s because no two situations are equal and spelling them out in a contract is impossible.

    · A soft drink bottling and distribution center where the office, non-union, was made up of mostly women in the activities of bookkeeping and accounting and non office employees which were union and made up primarily of men doing warehouse and delivery work. The pay for the union employees was higher than what was paid in the office due to the physical demands of the job. The ability to have a long career as a soft drink delivery person wasn’t that good. Normally knees, backs, shoulders and feet caused health problems that made them shift careers as they aged. That was not the case in the office where people normally worked their entire career. Some of the office personnel petitioned for unionization twice while I was there and both times the employees voted to stay non-union.

    · The majority of my career was with a financial institution with various subsidiary business entities made up of primarily females at the customer service level and back room accounting level and with males at the leadership level. While this was the way it was back in the 80’s when I started, it changed dramatically over the years. The change was driven mostly by the change in the environment as more of the work shifted to being technology oriented which attracted higher paid female workers. As a result, those female workers in areas of high demand received promotions based on their contribution to the organizations and moved into top management positions. Yet, while this was happening the organization still maintained a high concentration of females in the traditional positions of customer service and back room accounting. While these were lower paid positions which were easier to replace in the event someone chose to leave, losing highly productive people at any level is not in the best interest of the organization. The panacea was not to just raise pay, it was to develop a workplace that targeted the needs of this group of employees. Nobody turns down a pay increase but the benefits from it are not normally a long lasting reason for people to stay in their job. We developed a benefit program that allowed the manager and employee to deal with day to day issues of flexibility, absenteeism and job quality without constantly referring to the a manual. It took training for managers to work in this type environment but they were normally anxious to learn because it made them more responsible and in-charge of their and their employees work environment. Paying at the highest level was never the focus. We wanted to pay equitably but we realized with a quality work environment we didn’t have to be the pay leader but wanted to stay relatively close. Our proof in this being a workable policy were the number of people who left for higher paying jobs and returning shortly requesting to be re-employed. This happened hundreds of times and it came to be so frequent that you could almost predict when it would happen. The organization culture and buy-in to the needs of its employees is of great importance and it is more important to the female population, or at least it was when I was working. Pay can never be ignored but there are many other, as important elements, such as organization culture, employee job satisfaction and their relationship with their direct manager. We who represent the employer ask our employees to buy-in to their job and the goals of the overall business and if we are to make that a reality, we as employers must buy-in to the needs of the employee workforce we wish to employ.

    4. Some additional observations:

    · Our education system is a great handicap for women as they move into the workforce because it tends to cater to the female norm. Guys are rambunctious and tend to be on Ritalin because the objective of school is a calm and complacent environment. They’ve taken all the normal guy things, not on the sports team, and replaced them with diversity or social justice programs. When these children graduate to the workforce guys get to now use their more aggressive personalities and it generates higher levels of pay. Because in the work of business, it’s not about earning a participation trophy, it’s all about winning! (Now, these are generalizations, not specific to all women or men,)

    · Some really good paying jobs that I don’t see a lot of women gravitating to include plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto mechanics, etc. While that is their choice, these are jobs that could help in their effort to narrow the pay disparity. This would happen if by having less available for candidates for jobs in retail, teaching, daycare, customer service, accounting etc. which normally attract women.

    While I am sure I missed several “key” points that this expert eluded to in his article, I think I’ve done a mind dump sufficient for the day, I’m going to now shift my focus to other highly important endeavors for the day!

    Great job in taking on the sociopath elites who spew their garbage via a complacent media each and every day.


  2. Thanks Ted for your excellent description of the work environment and the various things that go into maintaining on the payroll good workers and executives. I have absolutely seen employees come back after finding a “better paying job” elsewhere.

    I appreciate depth of the issue you went into, which I just barely touched on.

    It costs a lot to find and keep good employees on. That is always a consideration an employer must take into account besides what they are being paid.

    As I said in my article: “Free Market 101”, labor is a market and employers bid for this labor. Labor ask a price for it. When they can agree then the transaction is done. Government is an unneeded and many times unwanted interference. like any market when supply exceeds demand then the price of labor goes down. When demand exceeds supply then the price of labor goes up. Government in determining winners and losers distorts the market with dire consequences many times.

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