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"But they treat talk about engagement as a joke: why should they put in additional discretionary effort when it's their CEO that seems to benefit the most? - If he (still most probably) is so important, let him sort the organisation out!"

Isn’t “Engagement” the concept of being totally committed and working toward something one is passionate about? In some instances, the payoff or outcome is beyond pay (finding a cure to cancer, putting a man on the moon, or perhaps crafting a baby quilt that will become a family heirloom) and we will find folks absolutely engaged in the pursuit of the goal.

However, the very concept of ‘work’ is to receive a reward, e.g. the farmer plants/tends and harvests a crop in order to feed the family through the winter. The customer service rep exchanges time on the telephone in order to receive a paycheck which will, in turn, put food on the table. The exchange of time / work for a paycheck is based on the perception of a ‘fair deal.’

It is when people feel taken for granted that they laugh at the thought that they need to produce more in order to provide additional benefits to those ‘in control.’ I’m reminded of an anecdote about a top-rated restaurant that catered to the rich and famous. When serving a particularly condescending and demanding patron, the frustrated server spit in the soup before leaving the kitchen…then served it with a smile (perhaps another example of not just disengagement but of active subversion).

Which in turn led me to thinking about a recent article regarding the rise in employee theft and the way people rationalize that behavior. There is a cost to everyone when we don’t reach agreement on the fair deal.

So yes, if the CEO is so important, let's hope that he/she is also engaged and makes some changes to reduce the discrepancies, recognize and reward others who need to engage and begin to mend the social fabric.

How do we tackle this as Comp Professionals...perhaps we need to become engaged?

Related to this topic is an oped piece in today's Minneapolis StarTribune. The author seems to state the current structure to pay executives has no accountability.


wow. Two huge topics may be too much for solutions here (at for today),

The issue of pay inequality between the sexes is just a symptom of a bigger issue of general inconsistency in pay for people delivering similar value. This will likely never be fully "solved" but it can certainly be made much better. Transparency in the marketplace is a key component. Teaching people how to earn and ask for what they are worth is another. But, the problem here is made worse by the fact that we are all human and subject to some of the basic decision -making prejudices of being human.

Studies have shown that when you remove people's names from resumes (or change the name to be the "correct" sex or national origin) that employment offers dramatically change. Should companies first strip any indicators of the individual before interviews are even started? Would this allow a pay range to be set prior to the interview? Should companies go a step further and have some sort of point system that can be scored during the interview that then drives the level of pay within the range that was set before the individual was identified?
I doubt such a model would work for long, but to remove the inherent bias you would need to do something like this.

The pay inequality issue is a completely different animal. Pay for CEOs is mostly driven by company size (especially for the largest companies). The biggest companies are much larger now than they have been in a very long time (maybe ever). This means the highest paid CEOs make more than ever before. But, CEOs at smaller companies compare their own pay to those at the largest companies and see a gap, so they ask for (sometimes demand) more money to keep up with the best. This further stretches every company, even those whose size may not provide any support for a big spread between the top and the bottom. I am not convinced that any form of regulation, transparency, shame or logic can fix this problem. Only those who are making the decisions (board members) and those who receive the income (execs) can fix this. The current environment does little to inspire them to do so.

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