Wage Discrimination

Equality and Inequality Dual

Wage levels are characterised by race and gender with both factors converging tragically for black women seeking work in the economy.

Some whites defend BEE saying without it there’ll be no real commitment towards equality while many black people themselves say BEE has not provided much privilege for them. There are thus black people who criticise it and white people who don’t.

Then there is the converse, black people who defend it, white people who deride it. Perceptions about BEE can thus repeatedly divide us, because ultimately, BEE has not contributed to a rise in black wages across the board and black women remain worst off.

Like an invisible hand, an old guard appears to prevail over the labour market, filtering job seekers into gendered colour piles ranked according to compensation expectations and pay slips.

Invisible Discrimination Visible Inequality

Employment Equity protects all from conventional forms of discrimination such as race, gender, religion and disability – but not wage discrimination.

Wage discrimination enters the labour market when employers are secretive about pay during recruitment.

Pay secrecy establishes a position of power during wage negotiation. The person who knows more about compensation has the upper hand.

Kagiso Media / East Coast Radio

East Coast Radio advertises vacancies without being upfront about pay. For applicants to apply, they must enter their own pay expectations without knowing what the East Coast Radio salary range is. In this instance, East Coast Radio places itself at a distinct advantage while potentially discriminating against applicants on the basis of their wage expectation.

Employer Power

Kelly Recruitment, Nurturing Futures, People Solved, O’Brien Recruitment usually advertise without including pay and demand pay slips / cost to company from job seekers, potentially discriminating against those who refuse to provide them.

These unfair labour practices allow employers to assume monopsony power over workers and control how people negotiate their worth in the labour market.

Policy conflicts within government discriminate against the rights of job seekers and divides labour power in South Africa.

The Competition Commission and Auditor General are government entities required to adhere to established government policy, yet they to use extraordinarily hostile recruitment devices such as obstruction of information and information asymmetry.

S23.1 of the Constitution enshrines labour market fairness, yet citizens are unable to defend their right to fairness as they fear reprisal and can’t afford the legal expenses.

The Employment Equity, Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment Acts dont protect job seekers right to fair wage negotiation when participating in recruitment processes.

Acts and different policies lack coherence and pro-poor direction allowing for unfair wage patterns to be reinforced, usually most damaging for women and black people vulnerable to being coerced into accepting unfair offers.

Inclusive and Pro-Poor Recruitment

Given our Constitution, a labour market principled on inclusion and access would make pay information compulsory in job adverts.

Since job seeking comes at a cost to applicants, it’s important to communicate as appealing an opportunity as possible to attract a large pool of the most suitable candidates.

Many recruiters argue they have no need to increase pools of applicants as plenty apply given our current economy. Yet in the next breathe they state ‘it’s so difficult to find the right ONE as there aren’t many with the right skills and competencies!’

Recruiters who maintain pay secrecy in adverts

are not hell bent on attracting women or any top candidates.

Suppressing information is not behaviour to attract the best, secrecy communicates an abuse of power placing employers at a wage negotiation advantage.

Enter Inequality

Workers have no choice but to work for pay as that’s how they make an attempt to improve their economic status and build financial security.

People work for pay, it’s not a sign of greed to expect to know how much a job pays, knowing is a right.

Besides, global studies since the 1960’s have found that job adverts attract a larger pool of quality candidates when compensation and other employment information is included in adverts.

Exclusion is not pro-poor nor democratic

Is recruitment about talent or surveying rival employer wages?

If job seekers are transparent about their pay information while prospecting employers are not upfront about wage offers, they place themselves at a negotiation disadvantage.

If you’re applying for a new job because you’re hoping for a raise, your luck may run out if you disclose all your pay information upfront.

The higher your pay expectations, the sooner you may be dropped from a candidate pool. Refusing to submit current cost to company or recent payslip could reduce access to employment. If you were applying to the Competition Commission’s unfair advert and completing their application form, you either give up your right to fairness or you can’t be considered.

Employer pay secrecy and job seeker wage transparency is unfair and inevitably becomes racially and gender bound.

Black Women Worst Off

Females are purged first in the economy, out ranking males in terms of vulnerability. Women are paid less and disempowered both socially and economically in South Africa. The rate of violence against women feels like it’s oppressing from all sides, on mental and physical levels.

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said secrecy must be banned:

“We have to break the cycle that traps women in low pay. Women often start work on a lower salary than men, move to a new job and are paid based on their previous wage, as opposed to what they or the role are worth – so they continue to be paid less. Ending this practice is crucial to ending the gender pay gap.

“Our research shows that women are more likely to disregard jobs if they feel their skills don’t match up to them, compared to men who often apply anyway.

Including salary details in job adverts would help women to see that jobs are in fact at their level and give them an idea of where they should be negotiating from to progress their pay.”


Part 3:


Part 1


The Constitution and Competition Act Can Impact

Please help us take action and advocate for a fair economy, accessible to everyone.

Sign our petition, make it fair!


Lilenstein, K., Woolard, I., Leibbrandt, M. (2016). In-Work Poverty in South Africa: The Impact of Income Sharing in the Presence of High Unemployment. A Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit Working Paper Number 193. Cape Town: SALDRU, University of Cape Town http://opensaldru.uct.ac.za/handle/11090/852

Global Forum on Competition ‘DOES COMPETITION CREATE OR KILL JOBS’ Contribution from the United States, 20-Oct-2015 https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/attachments/us-submissions-oecd-2010-present-other-international-competition-fora/1510jobscompetition.pdf

Wage determination in perfectly competitive labour markets https://www.economicshelp.org/labour-markets/wage-determination/

Quarterly Labour Force Survey Q2:2018 http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0211/Presentation_QLFS_Q2_2018.pdf

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Article


Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: