The Obama Administration is foisting a new reporting requirement on businesses, supposedly in an effort to close the wage gap between men and women. Large employers will now be required to disclose how much they pay individual employees and identify their sex, data which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will then use to identify employers that may be guilty of discrimination.

Unfortunately, this new data collection is unlikely to tell us much about the role discrimination plays in our workplace, but it could profoundly impact employees’ work options, and sadly for women, that could be for the worse.

The Administration and advocates of greater government involvement in business compensation practices point to the stubborn “wage gap” statistic, which shows that full-time working women earn about 80 cents for every dollar earned by a full-time working man. Yet in citing this statistic, they overlook its limitations: The Department of Labor wage gap stat doesn’t compare two coworkers, one male and one female, doing the same job. Rather they tally up all working women and all working men. Major factors that impact how much someone earns—from their chosen industry, years of experience, and even the number of hours spent working each day—are left out. Studies show that when such factors are controlled for, most of the wage gap disappears.

Presumably, the Administration thinks that this additional data will help solve this problem, since they will be able to consider individual industries and employers, and compare workers with similar job titles. Yet this still misses a great deal of nuance and ignores how individuals weigh different tradeoffs when choosing their jobs. For example, research has shown that within professions like the medical field, female doctors tend to gravitate to specialties that have lower pay, but have other attributes they value, such as more regular hours. A study conducted by Evolving Strategies for the Independent Women’s Forum explored how women value different job attributes, and found that offering a combination of flexible schedules, telecommuting, and reduced hours is about equivalent of offering between $5,000 to $10,000 in extra salary.

This means that many women would give up as much as $10,000 in pay for more flexibility. Yet the ability to negotiate such tradeoffs is likely to be the biggest casualty of Obama’s new work pay reporting regime. Employers will now take a harder look at their current payroll. Perhaps some who have been systematically underpaying women employees will be motivated to give them a boost so they make as much as their male peers. Far more often, however, any pay differences that exist between male and female coworkers are for legitimate reasons and are not the result of sexism.

Keep in mind that most human resource managers are women, so current compensation systems have not been designed by a so-called “Mad-Men era,” stogy-wielding bosses. These human resource managers—undoubtedly in concert with company lawyers—will consider how their numbers will appear to the EEOC bureaucrats who presumably will be anxious to uncover any evidence of sexism and make an example of those companies and their leadership. The employers and their lawyers will try to figure out how to make the numbers look better, even if this results in less fair outcomes and even if it takes away valued options for workers, especially working moms.

For example, in the small organization I help run, we have two employees (both of whom happen to be women) who have similar titles and, on paper, similar responsibilities and backgrounds. However, one makes significantly more than the other. Why? The one with lower pay had a baby last year, and asked for a reduction in hours and responsibilities, and a limit on how much she would have to travel, in exchange for lower pay. This seemed like a win-win for the organization and for our valued team member. We retained an experienced, productive employee; she now has the work-life balance she wanted. Yet if her counterpart were male, and our organization had to explain the earning differential to a bureaucrat and face the specter of a government sanction, we would have approached this situation very differently. We might have had to tell our employee that we couldn’t offer the reduced employment option for fear it would appear as discrimination. She would either have to continue her job with her full responsibilities or quit. Both the organization and our working mom would have been worse off as a result.

This example is just one of millions. Everywhere, human resource managers and business leaders will start considering not just if employment decisions make sense for the business and for its employees, but how it will look to a government regulator with the power to punish the company. This will encourage a far less flexible work environment and lead to a more one-size-fits-all pay system. Perhaps a few sexist employers truly will be rooted out as a result, but many more businesses—and millions of employees—will pay a high price in terms of lost flexibility and freedom.

Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum and the vice president for policy of the Independent Women’s Voice.