october 22nd–23rd, 2013 | washington, d.c.

Innovative Research on Employer Practices:
Improving Employment for People with Disabilities

A state of the science conference from the Rehabilitation and Research Training Center on Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes among Individuals with Disabilities. This two-day event highlighted the research findings from the Employer Practices Rehabilitation Research and Training Center at Cornell University ILR School's Yang-Tan Institute. It was a great success! Check back for reports and proceedings of the conference.

Analysis of Wage and Total Compensation Gaps by Disability Measure


Bio Sketches

Kevin Hallock Photo

Kevin F. Hallock, Ph.D., is The Donald C. Opatrny '74 Chair of the Department of Economics, Joseph R. Rich '80 Professor, and Professor of Economics and of Human Resource Studies and Director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University. He is also Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA, on the Board of Directors of WorldatWork and Distinguished Principal Research Fellow at the Conference Board. His current research is focused on the intersection of compensation design and labor markets, executive compensation, the valuation of stock options, and the plan design and mix of employee compensation. He has written extensively on executive compensation in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. His most recent book is Pay: Why People Earn What They Earn and What You Can Do Now to Make More, forthcoming by Cambridge University Press. Professor Hallock has been published in a variety of outlets including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Corporate Finance, the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, The Journal of Public Economics, the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Industrial Relations, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, and Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management. He has co-edited four volumes on Labor Economics and two volumes on Executive Compensation. Funding for his research has come from various sources, including the American Compensation Association, the Intel Corporation, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Kevin's work has been discussed in various national and business publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Barron's, Business Week, Time Magazine, and Newsweek. He has received teaching awards from the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations and from the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois, where he taught previously. He is the recipient of the Albert Reese Award for the Best Dissertation in Labor Economics from the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University and the John Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award from the Labor and Employment Relations Association. At Cornell, Professor Hallock teaches a course on compensation. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 1995, and a B.A. in Economics, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1991.

Cara Woodson Welch's Photo

Cara Woodson Welch, Esq., is VP, Public Policy, News and Publications for WorldatWork responsible for anticipating and addressing regulations and legislation that could affect total rewards and human resource professionals in the United States. Welch has nearly 20 years of experience in public policy and government affairs and is a member of the DC Bar. Prior to joining WorldatWork, she served as general counsel and vice president of advocacy at the Design-Build Institute of America in Washington, D.C. Welch's extensive experience includes advocacy at the local, state and federal level. Early in her career, she received a fellowship with the Human Resources division of the Social Security Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also has worked in the state legislature and the state executive branch. She has an excellent grasp of the federal legislative and regulatory process and understands how federal law and regulations impact employers. Welch previously held executive positions with American Society of Landscape Architects, National Association of Realtors, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and more. Welch is a frequent speaker and writer on the impact of federal legislation and regulations on total rewards. She has been quoted in The Washington Post, Workforce Management, Employee Benefit News, and the Wall Street Journal. Cara Welch earned her B.A. in International Studies and French with a Minor in Political Science from Macalester College as well as her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Adriana Kugler's Photo

Adriana Kugler, Ph.D., is Vice-Provost for Faculty and Full Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. She was founder and Co-director of the International Summer Institute on Policy Evaluation between 2010 and 2013. She served as Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011 and 2012. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she was Full and Associate Professor at the economics departments at the University of Houston and at University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Her research interests include labor markets and policy evaluation in developed and developing countries. Her work includes contributions on the role of public policies, unemployment, and immigration. Her contribution on the impact of policies and regulations was recognized with the 2007 John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award from the Labor and Employment Relations Association. More recently, one of her papers garnered the 2010 First Prize for Best Contribution in the area of "Globalization, Regulations and Development" from the Global Development Network. Her work has been published in a variety of top general interest and specialized journals including the American Economic Review, the Review of Economic & Statistics, the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Labor Economics, the Journal of Public Economics, the Journal of Development Economics and the Journal of Policy Reform. Her research has been covered in multiple reports, including the World Development Report published by the World Bank, and the annual development reports published by the Inter-American Development Bank and the OECD. Her research and policy work have been covered in The Economist magazine, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, NBC Latino, CNN Money, FoxBusiness, C-SPAN, Nightly Business News, Univision, Telemundo, NTN24, NPR and in the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Association of Labor Economists for 6 years. She is Associate Editor of the Industrial and Labor Relations Review and she serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Labor and Development, Labor Economics, Economia, the British Journal of Labor Relations, and the Applied Economics Quarterly Journal. Professor Kugler earned her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997 and her Joint BA in Economics and Political Science with First Class Honors from McGill University in Canada in 1991.

Conference Remarks

Kevin Hallock, Cara Woodson Welch, and Adriana Kugler each discuss the importance of looking at compensation as a whole, not just wages, when determining the gaps in compensation between people with and without disabilities. Recent research taking into account a wide range of compensation factors has revealed that the compensation difference is smaller than initial research has found, when taking total compensation into account.

Questions and Answers


Comment, Linda Barrington:

I have been a part of this amazing five year project, halfway through. But I just wanted to add, I think what's really important with this paper right now, is that we're at the start of the Affordable Care Act implications. And so a big takeaway of this is that benefits and healthcare matter. And they matter in terms of your total compensation. And how we measure these things matter. So how is the Government going to be changing, expanding, modifying the kinds of questions it asks, now that we've got this Affordable Care Act, which is really going to change the playing field in terms of healthcare, and the link between a job and healthcare.

So I think in some sense I'm a little concerned some of this work is already outdated. Because we've got all these new things happening. But we need to push this. Because I'm not sure the data surveys are going to catch up fast enough with the Affordable Care Act.


Answer, Kevin F. Hallock:

So I was going to ask Adriana if -- I was part of a data improvement project five years ago or so. Is it the case that it's almost impossible to add questions to these large national databases?

I mean, it's expensive to change them, and make -- and there are problems with changing them. Because we're changing them, and so we're not asking the same questions. But I think, in response to Linda's comment, do you think that we'll -- you probably already know that we're changing the questions in some of these surveys because of Affordable Care Act and other things.


Answer, Adriana Kugler:

No, that's right. I think, as you know, there are many things on the chopping block as things evolve in terms of the budget. And usually data is one of those things that is first to go.

So sometimes we have entire surveys, right, being eliminated, and so forth. But adding questions is a relatively cheap compared to adding surveys, right, or doing new data gathering exercises. So it is worthwhile and I've seen it happen. And I think it is important for people who use the data out there to voice concerns, and to make sure that they keep at it. And if you're persistent enough, I've seen people who have actually managed to add new questions. So I think it is very important.

But, I mean, I think that's a very good point about the Affordable Care Act. But, you know, one thing which we have seen, and have started to see as a result of the Affordable Care Act, is this whole issue of compensation costs falling as a result of that.

And so that's, you know, if you think of it that way, right, that's going to be a lower cost for the employer, right. Eventually that may turn, say, in to a higher wage, higher earnings for the workers, right. And that's either workers with our without disabilities, generally speaking.

So there is something promising in there. There is the increased mobility that may come as a result of having access to health insurance that is not attached to the job. And that's another way in which, you know, the labor market will respond, hopefully, once all the glitches in the website are dealt with, and all of that. But there is certainly different aspects in which the labor market will certainly respond. And it's a very good, yes, link that you're making there.



Question, Participant:

I've really enjoyed the research the last two days, and the presentations. So thank you very much for your hard work and dedication to all these issues.

My question for this panel was, did you have a question on your survey which included telework? I understand that there's a big change with the Affordable Care Act. But telework has been something that employers have been offering in the federal government and private sector.

And that might be, I'd be interested in a question concerning, did you accept a job, or did you not change jobs because it allowed you to work from home, or have a telework flexible schedule?


Answer, Kevin F. Hallock:

I should just say that we didn't investigate that in these data. But I would think of that as a difficult-to-measure but positive attribute of a job. The ability to have that kind of flexibility.

Just like the fact that I can have Xin as my student at this university, or Susanne as my colleague. Those are, that's part of my compensation as far as I'm concerned. But we didn't investigate that. I don't know if those data exist. But go ahead.

But it makes a lot of sense, and I think it would be a great topic of study.


Answer, Cara Woodson Welch:

We just actually released a report on workplace flexibility that does look at telework. And we also have a whole arm that looks at telework. And that is something that employees value quite a bit.

There's obviously, if you've been reading any of the media, some pushback in the media around the ability to be able to telework, and what the value is for that. But I would say that generally speaking we find that it is something that is valued, especially when you're looking at people entering the workforce now. It's something that they expect to be able to do on occasion, to have more flexibility in their work hours, beyond maybe telework. So I do think some of that data is out there.

And just to go back to an earlier point. But specifically on telework, is that one of the things that I've been working on over the last four or five years is actually getting better questions into some of the federal surveys surrounding that question on telework and workplace flexibility.

It is possible, but it is a long process that does -- and I just want to re-emphasize -- require a lot of input from advocates, and persistence from both within and without the government to really get those changes made in some of these surveys.

It's a difficult but possible process, just to go back to what we were talking about with ACA. But yes, I do think there is some data out there. It varies by source, really.


Comment, Adriana Kugler:

So I think you did as well as you could with the set data. I think that you're right, that unfortunately you don't have things such as, you know, flexible hours, flexible accommodations, right, flexible schedules, but also flexibility into what work site you go to work to.

The ACS data, the American Community Survey, did add questions on that in 2011. And that's very good data. But, there aren't too many people who are surveyed, not enough. And there are no questions on disability status unfortunately. So kind of answering the two questions at once won't be easy.

But there were efforts to collect data on those issues. It's just not allowing us to answer, how does that affect importantly, right, workers with disabilities.


Comment, Participant:

Well, I would just encourage you. I mean, I understand that changing a question or adding a question is a lot of effort. And I commend you on, again, on the efforts that you've made so far.

But in my interactions with persons, they really consider that question, if they can negate a commute, even an assisted person to taking the job, a manager looks at that if they needed a full time assistant. But then if they have the option of telework, they won't need that assistant. Transportation, do they need support with transportation? How long it changes or negates a commute? So the question of a flexible work schedule --

I've heard folks say to me, I'm not going to change jobs. Because with this job I get to work at home. And so sometimes a promotion is not worth the loss of that compensation. So thank you again.


Comment, Adriana Kugler:

I would actually encourage, since everybody here has a stake on this. It would not be maybe too difficult to add this to a large CPS, right, where you already have the information on disability status, and you have information on health insurance and other questions that do refer to benefits. I would encourage -- I agree with you. It's a really key issue for workers with disability. So it would be nice to be able to marry it to questions.


Comment, Susanne M. Bruyère:

I think, I'm just going to make a quick comment. And that is, I think you said you were here yesterday. So you probably heard Nancy Hammer's comment that the Society for Human Resource Management is looking at workplace flexibility.

And there certainly are other entities. And I have to say, in some of our case studies that Lisa and I have conducted with key informants, they were very clear about their concerns that flex place, although that's wonderful for them, it might compromise their ability for job promotion and career advancements.

So when we're talking about compensation and tradeoffs, I think we need to think about, do we, are we forcing people for flexibility and working at home to compromise their ability for advancement. And is there something we can do about that in some way?



Question, Participant:

Dr. Kugler, you talked a little bit about self-employed. Yesterday I brought up a question regarding freelancers. NPR had a report a few weeks ago that, if I recall correctly. And I may not be recalling it correctly. But something like 30 percent of the workforce is freelancing at some point in their lives. And of course a lot of employers are going to contracting, or outsourcing as opposed to actually employing folks.

So could you talk a little bit more and everyone on the panel please, if you could talk a little bit more about how this notion of freelancing, and possible forced freelancing, okay, is going to have an effect. And how that might impact people with disabilities disproportionately. Thank you.


Answer, Adriana Kugler:

Yes, you're right that there are two sides to this, right. It's great to say, oh, you know, here we have 11 percent of workers with disabilities being self-employed, and seven percent among the general population. You may think that some of that comes, for example, because, you know, you can work from home, you have a lot more flexibility. Some of that may be voluntary, right. And so you may want to do that.

But another part of it may be that you were forced into it because you do not have those other options at the workplace, in terms of employment, and weigh employment that offers benefits, and all these other wonderful stuff. So certainly there are two sides to the coin.

I think it would be very nice, actually, for you guys who are continuing to research in this area, to look at that group of workers with disabilities how get into self-employment. And try to understand how much of it is voluntary. How much of it is because of lacking maybe other options?

We actually, unfortunately, don't have all that much data on contingent workers, right. The last one was done in 2005 by BLS. There was no additional money to do the survey again. I know the Department of Labor actually is conducting a survey now. And I think they must be at the stage where they're getting ready to have some results on data on contingent workers. So I know they were making an effort. There was, you know, not something that is going to be done year after year. But at the very least they figure, you know, last time this was done was in 2005.

We need to understand a little better whether the contingent workers are really seeking these voluntarily and, you know, looking for the flexibility at the workplace. Or, you said, more they should, you know -- It's a vulnerable situation for many of those who are in contingent work.


Comment, Kevin F. Hallock:

I completely agree. I think it's a very interesting question. And when we teach about this, we think about this maybe bimodal -- that some people are self-employed because they don't want to share their extraordinary ideas with some company. They want to, you know, and others are, may not have an alternative. And I think it's a very, very important group to look at among the things that we want to do. We just haven't done it yet.



Comment, Susanne M. Bruyère:

If you give me your card, one of our colleagues has done work in this area. They've done a conference on this topic. And so we'll get you that information. Make sure you get me your information. I know you've signed in, but it would be great if you'd remind me.



Question, Participant:

And I have a question and a comment. I was wondering if your survey controlled for promotions within a company. I just anecdotally have a sense that everyone starting out at the same salary or about that. So you have workers with disabilities coming in, and workers without, roughly equal.

But then maybe what's happening is they're not getting the same promotional opportunities. So then the gap gets larger the longer they spend time at the company. Have you had any data on that?


Answer, Kevin F. Hallock:

Yes. All of these datasets, one of them actually has a longitudinal aspect to it, where we can follow people over time, although it's a very short time period. But we use them all at a point in time. So we don't do that.

But you've got, it's a very, very important point. So imagine it's the same issue with the gender gap. If we hire folks in at the same level, all the same wage, and then there's a sort of fanning out over time.

Adriana basically commented on something very related to this. To the extent that men and women, or persons with disabilities or persons without, are differentially promoted. To the extent that we're controlling for the occupation which you're in, we're saying, within that occupation or within that level, we're comparing people. And if people with disabilities aren't getting promoted, or women aren't getting promoted, then we're kind of masking some of the difference.

So this is a very important concern, and one we need to be worried about. But we can't look in these data. There are other ways we could do this with firms and others. But in these data, we don't have that information. And we can't follow people over time. In one of the data sets we can. But it's a very short time period. And we haven't done it here.


Question, Participant:

Thank you. The other thing I was wondering is, to me it would be interesting to look at. Is there a difference in compensation gap and wage gap between people with visible disabilities and people with hidden disabilities? Does that matter?


Answer, Kevin F. Hallock:

Again, to the extent that we could look at those, the pictures that we had there, and say that -- I think some of the major categories that we list are probably, we could associate with more likely as one that would be visible, or that you couldn't hide, that's immediately disclosed to anyone. And we haven't looked at that yet.

I have, as I'm writing to Susanne in the middle of the night, during the day, all the time. And she's up. It doesn't matter. And I become increasingly interested in this particular topic. We haven't done it here. We might be able to speak to it though from what we're, from some of those pictures, actually. Let's say that, for example, in the American Community Survey, hearing differences have a very small wage gap relative to the others. But ambulatory have a larger wage gap. Those are just one.

And so if someone were entering a room you might not know, it's not visible, the hearing difference isn't visible immediately. The ambulatory one might be. And in that case the ambulatory has a larger wage gap than the hearing. So in that sense, we can look at it but we only have these categorized into seven, six unique categories. And we haven't addressed that directly. And I don't know of any literature on that. But it's a great idea. It's a great idea.


Comment, Susanne M. Bruyère:

Sarah Von Schrader will be coming up later this morning and she and our colleague, Zafar Nazarov, will be doing the EEOC charge data discussion.

I don't know as they've included it here. But we do see an increase in the number of types of charges from people who we consider with invisible disabilities, which may say that people are becoming more emboldened to disclose. We don't know how to interpret that.

But that's a place where we do have some kind of data like that.


Comment, Participant:

I had a comment on freelancing, which is that there's no civil rights with freelancing. There's not any superstructure or employment rights for freelancing. And it's something I just sort of wanted to throw into the debate and the conversation. And something we need to think about, and possibly look at.

I've also been curious if there are any studies involving the wages that you negotiate as a freelancer. I think I've noted some gender and some disability differences.

Although with the disability differences, sometimes it's to keep people so they can keep their benefits. But I wondered if there's any data about that. And I wanted to add it to the discussion.


Comment, Susanne M. Bruyère:

Does anyone have anything else they want to add on that from the table? Because we've done a conference on that at Cornell, around employment rights and freelancers. I just don't know the data. I just don't know the information off the top of my head. I'm happy to follow up.



Question, Participant:

Dr. Hallock, you just used the word unique when you were talking about the different disability categories. So that what struck me was, are you accounting for multiple disabilities when you do these studies?


Answer, Kevin F. Hallock:

Yes, that's actually an excellent point. We have six categories of different disabilities. And then we had any disability. And so the way we've reported these results in this paper is, do you have any, do you have A, B, C, D, E, or F? But persons obviously can have multiple disabilities. So there are all sorts of other combinations of those things as well. And they're recorded that way. So we know if one has any of those things, yes. It's a good point.

Slides



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