In the United States President Obama recently announced that the American government will be collecting detailed salary data by race and gender for every business in the country with more than 100 employees.
Although the move is good spirited and has been designed to try and reduce the gender pay gap, the policy, which has been enforced not by a Congressional vote but by executive order, does have the potential to cause some problems.
For a start it could prompt a bonanza of frivolous race and sex-discrimination lawsuits in an American legal system that already has its fair share of those to deal with. There is of course also the concern that this is just another case of government pushing its nose into private business, a place where it is not often welcome.
The decision by the president will help to push the spotlight onto some sections of American business that have been notoriously uneven for decades, Silicon Valley for example. 82 percent of Google’s engineering positions are filled by men, of whom 35 percent are Asian-American and 59 percent are white.
Up until quite recently Apple had an executive team that was exclusively composed of white men, despite having its headquarters in a county in which only 17 percent of people are white men.
Silicon Valley is without a doubt ashamed of its lack of diversity. It is home to many contributors to Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, a man who is firmly in favour of equality in the workplace.
So far the Republican candidates running for president, have, surprisingly shown little interest in attaching the president’s new policy. Although this truce is unlikely to last long. Republicans notoriously dislike the government playing any kind of role in private business, so the knives will no doubt be out for this policy soon.
What is even more surprising is that the Conservative Government in the UK is about to roll out a similar policy, which is a good example of how the right wing of American and British politics differ.