A Few Things Missing From Salary Survey

I eagerly opened the December 2002 issue of Quality Progress to read the results of the annual salary survey  (p. 29), but I ended up disappointed in the magazine article and the data on the website for two reasons:

1. Reliance on a survey sent only to members who have e-mail addresses and agreed to receive e-mail from ASQ.

2. Failure to better collect data regarding education and years of experience in quality vs. salary.

In the 1936 U.S. presidential election, Literary Digest predicted Al Landon would defeat Franklin Roosevelt but, of course, Roosevelt won. In retrospect, Literary Digest mostly surveyed people who owned telephones or cars and overlooked people who were registered voters but too poor to own a telephone or car. Along the same lines, did ASQ make sure the results for the people who answered the salary survey via e-mail correspond to the results for ASQ's entire U.S. membership?

The salary survey indicates only about 1.8% of all ASQ members were unemployed at the time of the survey. Given the depth of the recession in manufacturing in 2002, I question the validity of this result. Similar surveys of people in technical fields show higher unemployment rates. For example, the American Chemical Society's salary survey showed an unemployment rate of 3.3% among its members and noted unemployed people may be more reluctant to respond to salary surveys.

Regarding the reporting of the data collected, I think it's important to show survey data that integrate the highest level of education completed and the number of years in the workforce vs. salary.

Henrietta, NY

Editor's Note: ASQ's Market Research department continually monitors the demographics of the opt-in e-mail database, along with other information, vs. that of the overall membership to ensure the database is representative of all members. With more than 53,000 members, the e-mail database comprises more than half of ASQ's current overall membership. Also, the response the salary survey received from the e-mail campaign this year is far higher (more than 8,500, for a 16.8% rate) both in number and percentage than the survey ever received when it was done only via mail or via a combination of mail and e-mail.

In our quest for continual improvement, we will consider both your suggestions for the 2003 salary survey.


How Valuable Is the Q-100 Index?

I think the article "Revised Q-100 Continues To Outperform S&P 500" ("Keeping Current," December 2002, p. 22) is confusing, if not misleading. There may be reasons for creating the Q-100 and comparing it to the S&P 500. But, how valuable is the Q-100 when 35 new companies were added and 30 companies were dropped from the list in a single quarter?

If great quality companies such as Eaton, Cummins and Dana (in the opinion of Mark Billeadeau, the chief investment officer of RCM, the company that created the Q-100 index) are excluded, why do we call the list the Q-100 index? According to the theory of market efficiency, all information about a company will be reflected in its market value as long as the information is available to the public. The return difference between the Q-100 and the S&P 500 may not be significant enough to reject that theory.

So, let us use Quality Progress' precious space to publish useful articles instead of some funky list that misleads its audience.

Canton, MI

Author's Response: The makeup of the Q-100 is evaluated annually to ensure it accurately reflects its benchmark, the S&P 500, which changes continuously. During 2001 and 2002, for example, the S&P 500 dropped 54 companies and added 54. Robinson Capital Management updated the Q-100 this past July to more precisely cover 23 industry sectors, rather than the previous 10 industries, which also aligns it with the S&P 500.

According to pension fund managers and other investment experts, the return difference between the Q-100 and the S&P 500 is very significant. No other subset of the S&P 500 that follows the same rules as that index outperforms the S&P 500. We are confident the Q-100 holds up under rigorous quality analysis as an indicator of the financial value companies realize by pursuing continuous quality improvement.

Robinson Capital Management


Annual Performance Appraisals Need Help

I was delighted to see Tony Juncaj's article on Tom Coens' problems with performance appraisals ("Do Performance Appraisals Work?" November 2002, p. 45). Coens' problems match my own from 25 years of experience. I especially appreciated his case for timely and better discussions about improved business results without the dreaded annual writing contest of lies that generally hurt management's case against poor performance.

Human Asset Investments
Charlotte, NC


Age Discrimination Based on Résumé

I am a quality professional with more than 30 years of corporate experience who has been laid off several times and is the employment assistance (placement) chair for ASQ's metro Atlanta section 1502. In his article "Your Résumé: Not Just a Job Hunting Tool" (November 2002, p. 38), David W. Cole says, "degrees conferred, when they were conferred" should be included in a résumé. I respectfully disagree. While it is OK to provide the year conferred for advanced degrees, I think the year a bachelor's degree is conferred should not be included on one's résumé.

While advanced degrees are many times conferred when a person is well into his or her professional career, a bachelor's degree is usually conferred around age 22. For a person with a bachelor's degree, you simply subtract the year the degree was conferred from the current year, add 22 years and, voilá, you have the person's approximate age!

Sad to say, despite its being illegal, some companies still seem to practice age discrimination. Providing the year an undergraduate degree was conferred gives such companies the information to do so. For those of us over 40, unless you received your undergraduate degree in the last few years, I do not recommend putting the year of graduation on your résumé.

Cambria Industries
Norcross, GA


We Must Consider Product Recycling

Before giving my copy of Quality Progress to my local library's business section, I read Ken Case's article on the future with interest ("Coming Soon: the Future," November 2002, p. 25). As a part of upper middle management, I was fascinated with J.M. Juran's lectures in Chicago in 1974. Since then, I have looked at everything in a different light.

I am encouraged ASQ's president-elect went on record with his forward thinking. Even so, I suggest one more item be added to Table 2 "The Most Likely Scenario" (p. 28): product recycling. Because we use durable, nondegradable plastics or aluminum instead of easily degradable materials such as wood or paper for many things, I believe original manufacturers should consider the "ending" of the life of their materials.

This is not an easy thing to do, as with any recycling operation, but it is of growing necessity. The day is fast approaching when discarded so-called garbage will become a liability to society, the community and the customer.

Engineer, retired
Chair, ASQ's Calgary section 0409
Calgary, Alberta


Relate Losses to Volume On Pareto Charts

In "Using the Cumulative Line" ("Back to Basics," November 2002, p. 104), Bart P. Hamilton proposes the use of a Pareto chart to display the distribution of dollar losses resulting from various causes and their cumulative distribution by percentage of the original total to display improvement. Categories C, D, E, F, G and H remained unchanged between the initial study and the subsequent study. Only categories A and B changed.

My question is: Was the improvement in categories A and B the result of conscious effort to identify the root causes of those losses and take appropriate corrective actions to reduce the losses, or were the reductions the result of a shift in the product mix or a change in the overall level of business?

That is, if fewer of the products that exhibit defects A and B were manufactured during the second study, I would expect to see fewer defects. Conversely, if business improved and production increased, the dollars lost could be higher than seen in the base study, even if substantial improvements to the process were actually realized.

To make up for these effects, it is necessary to relate the losses to volume. Dividing the losses by the sales in the period is a first approximation, but it doesn't account for the inventory effect. In some periods, sales may exceed production, thereby drawing down inventory, and in others, sales may be less than production, thereby building inventory.

A more meaningful measure of volume is the cost of production, which will relate the dollar loss in a period to the production cost in the same period. The savings in the current period are measured by first multiplying the base period loss by the ratio of the current period production cost to the base period production cost and then subtracting the current period loss.

Fairfield, CT

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