The second day of the 2016 ILG National Conference was filled with many informative sessions including those on implementing affirmative action plans, diversity initiatives, steering, and everyone’s favorite topic – pay.

The day opened with an address from EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic. Commissioner Lipnic shared details of the Agency’s work studying harassment in the workplace. However, the most interesting portion of her presentation came in response to a question from the audience regarding the proposed changes to the Agency’s EEO-1 report to collect pay data.

Prefacing her response by making it clear she was not speaking on behalf of the Agency or the other Commissioners, Commissioner Lipnic shared that she voted against the EEO-1 pay data report proposal. Explaining that, as a policy matter, she felt

“it was past its prime and should be relegated to the heap of bad policy ideas once and for all,”

she emphasized her belief in equal pay for equal work and support of the Equal Pay Act.

Commissioner Lipnic acknowledged and agrees there is an unexplained wage gap but feels the focus should not be on collect pay data from employers that confirms the pay gap, but instead on addressing what have been identified as the predominant reasons for the gap, – females, generally, come in and out of the workforce and self-select into lower paying positions.

By way of example, Commissioner Lipnic shared the story of a small business owner who reported they received a quote from their vendor for $56,000 to modify their data collection system to address the obligations of the proposed changes to the EEO-1 form. She questioned whether that was a good use of the company’s funds or whether the funds would be more impactful if they were instead used to support on-site childcare or to hire another employee.  Her point, as she articulated it, is to question whether there is a different, better way, to address the pay gap than the proposed EEO-1 report.  In her words, pay is “complicated and individualized to each company.”

Following on this sentiment, the day wrapped up with a bookend presentation on pay delivered by Jackson Lewis’ own Mickey Silberman. Mickey started his pay presentation by pointing out

“there has never been an issue that has been more challenging or where contractors have as many forks in the road to choose from.”

His presentation put the “pieces of the puzzle together” of the various issues pay issues companies face today and shared tips and strategies to proactively prepare for the upcoming changes to the EEO-1 report, and other state laws and OFCCP compliance reviews.

If the content of the day is any indication of what’s on people minds, its clear people are thinking (and talking) about pay and will be for the foreseeable future.