There are many jobs – particularly in finance or sales related positions that are compensated based on commission – which appear on the outset to have objective measurements regarding success. Did someone make money or did someone not make money? In some cases, women appear to underperform compared to men – this has been chalked up to women choosing less demanding accounts, choosing to work fewer hours, or just not being as assertive or risky.
In these cases, cries for more pay equality are met with a response that performance measurement is based on a meritocratic system. If anyone was compensated less than average, the line of thinking goes, it’s because they didn’t work as hard.
But a new study by a Wharton researcher shows that there are organizational biases at play when it comes to so-called meritocratic, commission based jobs. It points to the reasons that, while formalized pay structures can help decrease inequity, management plays a key role in who makes what. Therefore, line-managers must be a part of discussions around diversity and equity in companies – even those where pay is based on commission.