An Allegory about Pay Data

Meredith Reitman
2 min readOct 11, 2022


Earlier this year, the EEOC published a 370-page report assessing its efforts to collect mandatory pay data from all US employers in 2017 and 2018. Their goals for collecting this data were to:

  • improve their enforcement capabilities when an employer is charged with discrimination,
  • explore pay practices across industries and regions to flag both high-disparity contexts and outlier employers, and
  • support employers’ own pay equity self-assessments.

I support these goals! I’m betting you do, too. So, what happened? Lots of missing employers, lots of missing data, lots of errors. Some of it is still useable (I think? I wasn’t sure) and I’m looking forward to what the EEOC will publish from it.

The brilliant team that took this on has recommendations, and they are smart, context-responsive, and numerous. And yet I do still wonder about the pace of change, given it took almost 60 years to go from enacting a law to the beginnings of enforcement.

Reading this report brought me back (for the umpteenth time) to Aesop’s The North Wind and the Sun. In it, the sun and wind resolve an argument about who is stronger by trying to strip a Traveler of his cloak. Spoiler: the sun wins, because its shining warmth encourages him to take his coat off willingly.

Enforcement is important (though I’m more likely to rely on the concept of accountability), but I wonder — what would the data look like, how complete and accurate would it be, if employers wanted to share it? If the shining warmth of a beautifully imagined equitable future encouraged us all to take our coats off?

White man in loose clothing lying down against a tree, wiping his brow in response to the smiling sun’s heat above him.
The Traveler post-decloaking.



Meredith Reitman

Dr. Meredith Reitman, is a qualitative and quantitative researcher who specializes in exploring how race operates within workplaces.