All Articles Tagged "wage gap"
It’s one of the workplace taboos. It is common wisdom that one should never talk about salary in the office. But maybe this isn’t very wise, especially for women–and particularly for women of color. Maybe the thing to do is talk, talk, talk salary.
Some say shedding real-life light on the wage gap just might make changes. After all, according to the latest stats, women still earn just 77 cents compared to a dollar earned by men. And African-American women take home just 64 cents in comparison with white men.
And it’s not just the 9-to-5 woman being stiffed. During the Sony email hack actress Charlize Theron learned she was receiving unequal pay in comparison to male actors with the same box office draw. And most recently actress Amanda Seyfried found out she made a mere 10 percent of what her male co-star earned.
Of course, employers tend to want to keep employee salary info quiet as some fear that these conversations will force them to pay more to people who are finding out they’re underpaid. But could the truth about the underpayment of women, whether anonymously such as through such hashtags as #talkpay or out in the open, help the situation?
“More transparency around wages will certainly lead to some hard truths, including the confirmation that women overall make less than men overall and that women of color are especially shortchanged. But that transparency has a definite upside as well – it will be harder for employers to hide pay discrimination,” explains Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for Education & Employment at the National Women’s Law Center, to MadameNoire via email.
But such a revelation could result in negative consequences for women, particularly those of color. “There is no question that retaliation is real – when employees stand up and challenge unfair pay or any other discrimination, a real risk of retaliation can accompany it. And in truth, fear of retaliation may lead many women of color to not engage in wage conversations at all,” says Goss Graves. “The good news is, over 10 states have changed their laws to make it clear that retaliation for talking about wages is illegal. And we are waiting for a final rule from the Department of Labor that would also make clear that federal contractors cannot punish employees for talking about their wages. These additional protections will help provide a backstop to more transparency around wages.”
Transparency, however, could lead to better wages for women all around. “Awareness about wages is critical for combating the wage gap that women of color face, even when in the same job. If women of color cannot have basic conversations with their employers or with their co-workers, it will make it nearly impossible to ever catch up. And when employers keep wages in the dark it allows discrimination to go unnoticed,” Goss Graves points out. “But key to the additional transparency is additional protection against retaliation. The real world implications of retaliation could mean that women lose their jobs entirely. And women of color are least likely to be able to afford that sort of penalty. The sort of protections that will soon be detailed by the Department of Labor for employees who work for federal contractors and are now explicitly available in states like Oregon, New York, and California will make a tremendous difference.”
There is a major upside for overall transparency as an everyday practice. “Greater transparency about pay practices in the workplace can be helpful both for employees and employers. Having a clear understanding of how pay decisions are made, what policies are in place to ensure fair pay decisions, what to do if you have questions about your pay level, and how to raise concerns about potential problems without being penalized can be enormously helpful and reduce confusion,” says Jocelyn Frye, a Senior Fellow at progressive think tank Center for American Progress in an email conversation with MadameNoire. “Increased awareness can help, but it is important to couple awareness with concrete solutions that can be used to combat pay disparities when they occur.”
But don’t feel pressured to revealing your salary for “the cause.” After all, your income is between you, your employer, and the government. “The decision about whether to tell another person your salary is really a personal choice. No one should feel compelled to reveal their salary and no one should be penalized if they decide to share their salary information with a colleague or friend,” adds Frye. “Every workplace is different and each person has to make a judgment about what makes sense in their work environment. Take time to find out how these issues are typically addressed in your workplace and what the rules are, if any. Some employers now have legal obligations they must follow that prohibit them from having pay secrecy rules or retaliating against workers who discuss their pay. Contact your local fair employment practices agency or the Department of Labor for more information if you need it.”
According to Frye, the conversation about the wage gap needs to be broader than just revealing salaries. “What’s most important is to talk about the variety of steps employers and employees can take to identify and eliminate pay disparities experienced by women of color and other employees as well. We should strive for workplaces where everyone is treated fairly, there are open lines of communication, and there are clear policies in place to help ensure the work environment is free of discrimination,” Frye says.
The average CEO earned 373 times more than the salaries of the average American, according to study by the AFL-CIO.
While this seems like a big gap, the gap is getting smaller. In 2000, CEOs made a whopping 525 times more than the average worker. But the 2014 figure did go up a bit from 2013, when CEOs made 331 times what average workers did.
AFL-CIO uses its annual pay watch report to look at how much the average worker at each company included in the report made in relation to the chief executive.
“Last year, the average CEO was paid $13.5 million, according to information that the union culled from proxy statements filed by public companies on the Russell Index. The average American worker was paid $36,134 in 2014, based on numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” reports TNJ.com.
Still, this is a big jump from 1980 when BusinessWeek reported that the average chief executive was paid 42 times what the average worker made. By 1990, the gap was 85 times the average worker’s pay.
Fast forward to 2009. That year the average CEO was paid $8.6 million, however by 2014 this amount jumped 60 percent to $13.5 million. Yet over that same period, employee salaries rose a mere 13 percent by comparison from $32,033 in 2009 to $36,134.
The gender gap is still very wide in America. According to the latest Census data, a woman working full time in 2013 earned about 77 percent of what a man earned for the same job.
But one chief executive of a multibillion-dollar company is addressing this issue in his own firm. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wants to erase the gender wage gap at the San Francisco-based tech solutions firm. He is examining the pay of all 16,000 employees and as a result has given some women raises. “I expect to be giving a lot more,” he told the Huffington Post.
“My job is to make sure that women are treated 100 percent equally at Salesforce in pay, opportunity and advancement,” he said, “when I’m done there will be no gap.”
He expects the process to eliminate the wage gap will take a couple of years.
Salesforce’s pay initiative is part of a broader company program called Women’s Surge, which Benioff established in 2013 to address his concern over the last of female executives at his company. It is still an issue; as of June 2014, men made up 85 percent of the leadership team at Salesforce. But Salesforce is working on this on several fronts.
The company has also formed a women’s group called FemmeForce that provides mentoring and does nonprofit work.
Salesforce isn’t alone in its pay initiative. Interim CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, also recently addressed the gap at her company by prohibiting negotiation during the hiring and recruiting process. “If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
Economists claim there are a variety of reasons for the gap. Among them: Women tend to enter lower-paying industries or trade pay for flexible hours; sex discrimination; and women often don’t negotiate for higher wages. According to studies, if a worker doesn’t negotiate for higher pay in her first job, low wages could follow her whole career.
A decade after completing Harvard Business School, male graduates earn more than $400,000 annually while female graduates get about $250,000, according American Economic Journal, cited by The New York Times in 2013.
The wage gap between genders affects even jobs that are traditionally female. The nursing profession is dominated by women — 9 out of 10 nurses are female — yet male nurses typically make more money.
According to a new study by JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), the typical salary gap has consistently been about $5,000 even after accounting for such things as experience, education, work hours, clinical specialty, and marital and parental status.
“Nursing is the largest female dominated profession so you would think that if any profession could have women achieve equal pay, it would be nursing,” said lead study author Ulrike Muench from the University of California, San Francisco.
“There was a gap for hospital nurses, $3,783, and an even bigger one, $7,678, for nurses in outpatient settings,” reports The Huffington Post.
Men made more than female nurses in every specialty except orthopedics. But the overall range was from $3,792 in chronic care to $17,290 for nurse anesthetists.
While the study didn’t explain the gap, it could be due to the fact men may be more apt to work full-time as well as overtime, while female nurses may take more time off for family reasons.
Women were paid 78 percent of what men earn for full-time, year round jobs in 2013, according to the American Association of University Women. There are a few occupations where women outearn men. Nine of them to be exact. Out of 342 occupations.
The Washington Post lists them and, in general they are not the most glamorous of professions:
–Producers and directors (37.3 percent female) men earn $62,368 while women take home $66,226
–Cleaners of vehicles and equipment (13.5 percent female); men make $23,605, women $24,793
–Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products (49.2 percent); men get $41,619. women $42,990
–Transportation security screeners (35.9 percent); men, $40,732; women, $41,751
–Social and human service assistants (78.8 percent); men, $34,967; women, $35,766
–Special education teachers (84.6 percent); men, $46,932; women, $47,378
–Transportation, storage and distribution managers (18.2 percent); men, $52,017; women, $52,259
–Dishwashers (15.5 percent); men, $17,302; women, $17,332
–Counselors (69.6 percent); men, $42,299; women, $42,369
Race seems to trump education when it comes to what Blacks earn in the workplace. Black workers who have advanced degrees and White workers with merely B.A.s make about the same salary, according to a new study released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“In 2014, while white workers 25 years or older with at least an undergrad degree took home median earnings of $1,219 per week, similarly aged and educated Latino workers made $1,007, and Asian workers made $1,328 per week. Black workers with at least a college degree, meanwhile, posted median earnings of $970 per week,” reports Colorlines.
The gap got larger for more educated Black workers. Black workers who have an advanced degree earned $1,149—this is about the same as white workers who had only a bachelor’s degree ($1,132).
The numbers for 2014 were shocking but according to Colorlines writer Kai Wright, the wage discrepancy is an ongoing problem. In June, she wrote: “This is an inequity that grows from tangled roots—historic labor market discrimination, ongoing residential segregation, stubborn racial biases among employers. But it’s also one with consequences that stretch out beyond the men themselves, and that will linger long past today’s troubled economy.”
The racial income and wealth gap is a problem that’s getting more and more attention the more stats arise showing how wide it truly is. About a year ago, we wrote about how the gap between Blacks and Whites had tripled between 1984 and 2009. More recently (last month) the Pew Center reported that Whites have a media net worth 13 times greater than Blacks ($141,900 vs $11,000). The most recent Census numbers (September) found that while a White woman on average makes 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, Black women only make 64 cents. And overall, Black workers are hurt by high unemployment rates.
There has always been a discrepancy between the races on various lifestyle levels–from housing to education. So of course there is a gap in wages. But the gap also affects women, and more so women of color. According to The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, a report by The American Association of University Women, which promotes equity and education for women and girls, found that Asian American and white women had higher weekly take-home pay than African American and Hispanic or Latina women did in 2012.
“The gender pay gap was smallest within the African American, Hispanic/Latina, and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander full-time workforce. But compared with white men (the largest group in the workforce), African American and Hispanic/Latina women fare poorly,” reports AAUW. African-American women receive a salary of 89 percent of what African-American men are paid and just 64 percent when compared with white men.
But there are some places in the United States where the gap is even more prevalent for minorities. The largest wage gap for Black women is in Louisiana. For Latinas, it’s California. D.C. was second to last, with a 46.1 cent gap for Black women.
To see the wage gaps by state according to NWLC, click here.
Michael Gomez Daly, a self-described “very light skinned Hispanic,” is a field director for political campaigns. When he applies for jobs using his full name, he’s offered one salary. When he didn’t mention he was Latino and removed “Gomez” from his name, Daly was offered twice the salary for the same job. One’s race, The Daily Beast concludes, is a major deciding factor of your earnings in the political campaign game. If you’re a minority, expect much less.
Black staffers in Democratic political campaigns were paid 70 cents for each dollar White workers made, according to the New Organizing Institute, which took a look at the 2012 election. Hispanic workers got paid 68 cents on the dollar. The Daily Beast says that people of color are commonly pigeonholed into “minority outreach” positions, which pay significantly less.
Take Daly for example. For his first congressional campaign job, he announced that he was Hispanic and he has thrown into a box as a “Latino operative”; he was hired to appeal to the Hispanic community. But for his second campaign, he was paid twice as much. “I just came in as ‘Michael Daly,’ instead of ‘that Latino operative,’” he said.
“It was pretty clear to me early on that you can get put in a box pretty quickly. You get offers for jobs: African-American outreach, Asian-American outreach. Oftentimes when you start doing that work, it’s hard to get out of it,” Sujata Tejwani, president of Sujata Strategies, a Democratic firm, said.
Workers of color are shackled by the notion that minority voters are more inclined to support candidates who look like them. Blacks, Asians, and Latinos, in turn, are shoved into lower-paying positions.
“There’s a presumption that white voters won’t like to see a black press secretary, or that white voters won’t want to see an African-American or Latino political director,” Jamal Simmons, a Democratic political operative, said. That, Simmons adds, is prejudice based on obsolete beliefs on race relations.
The real money is in data, polling, research, statistics and the like. And as you might have guessed, Whites dominate the field. “The problem is: they don’t hire African Americans, Latinos in the parts of the campaigns where they spend the most money,” Simmons added.
Unfortunately, it seems like people of color are often hired to be the mascot. “Hey, do a little song and dance to get ‘your people’ on our side!” Experienced operatives say that “the path to enduring success lies in saying ‘no’ to jobs like that early on in your career,” The Daily Beast says.
For single moms, economic mobility is an uphill battle. Employers hesitate to hire ’em, child care costs are through the roof, and saving is damn near impossible — I mean it is tough! Single moms, compared to married mothers, are more likely to kiss their dreams of prosperity and wealth goodbye.
“Married mothers earned a median family income of $80,000 in 2011, almost four times more than families led by a single mom,” according to an op-ed piece entitled The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in America. Yikes!
Aparna Mathur, co-author of the op-ed piece and resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, spoke with MadameNoire to lay down the facts about single motherhood and wealth.
MadameNoire: So why are single mothers more likely to be poor?
Aparna Mathur: First, in terms of demographics, data from Pew suggest that single mothers are more likely to be younger, less educated and Black or Hispanic. Married mothers tend to be older and are disproportionately White and college-educated.
…More than 80 percent of married mothers have jobs but only 60 percent of single-mothers have full-time jobs. One possible reason for this is that single moms have to raise their children alone and bear the costs of child care by themselves. As a result, they often choose jobs with non-standard schedules. These kinds of work schedules are associated with lower earnings and fewer promotions, since employers do not find it in their interest to invest in training these workers.
…Our analysis using data from the Current Population Survey shows that for [married and single] women without children, the difference in incomes in 2012 was a meager $857. However, for married and single mothers, the difference was $19,000—which is pretty striking.
MN: According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Blacks are disproportionately unwed mothers; 72 percent of Black children are born to single mothers. Why?
AP: Marriage rates have fallen for both Blacks and Whites since the 1960s, but have fallen much more sharply for Blacks. As a result, as per data from the Census Bureau, 55 percent of Black children live in single-parent homes relative to 21 percent of Whites. I believe one big reason for this is the high rate of teen pregnancies amongst Blacks relative to other racial and ethnic groups. As a result, many more girls become single mothers at a young age, which leads to poor life outcomes, in terms of education and earnings.
Research also suggests that when women or girls grow up in disadvantaged families and where they perceive a lack of economic opportunity and advancement, they are more likely to settle for having babies outside of marriage.
MN: On MadameNoire, we published an article about IBM executives who revealed that they did not want to hire young women because they’ll get “pregnant over and over again.” Does gender bias in the workplace thwart a single mother’s career mobility?
AP: …There are several reasons why single mothers have a lower trajectory of earnings and promotions. A lot has to do with their inability to take up full-time jobs since they are the sole guardians for their children, and the costs of childcare have increased tremendously in recent times. However, some of it is also likely to be a consequence of employers being reluctant to hire women who will take time off for having kids. While this could show up in the gender wage gap if employers adjust by paying women less, this kind of discrimination is hard to prove, since there are so many factors that could explain wage differences. In fact, some studies suggest that the wage gap all but disappears if we control for the significant factors, such as education level, occupation and experience.
A more likely factor is that single mothers are constrained in their job choices, and the costs of childcare are prohibitive, further limiting their work schedules.
MN: Is the argument that single mothers are “not employable” valid or unfounded?
AP: I think there is some truth to the statement that employers may be more reluctant to hire women who are likely to take time off for maternity leave and other child-rearing responsibilities. However, I would think that instead of not hiring single mothers at all, employers would compensate for their loss of productivity during periods of maternity leave, by making other adjustments, such as adjusting wages downward or not providing other benefits. Clearly a lot would depend upon their cost-benefit calculation. For highly educated and productive women, these issues are less of a concern for employers as well.
MN: What other factors can hinder a single mom from saving and wealth building?
AP: To begin with, single mothers have lower incomes and lower earnings potential due to relatively low levels of education, which results in lower lifetime earnings, leading them to save less and build up less wealth. This is particularly true in the case of teenage moms, who often do not pursue an education once the child is born. On those low incomes, they have to sustain running a household, meeting rental, car, grocery and other expenses. Second, they have to support their children’s education and health care expenses all on their own income, which leads to lower levels of savings. With poor incomes, they are unlikely to build up much in terms of social security contributions, and therefore have lower levels of social security at the time of retirement…
MN: Single mom Shanesha Taylor, who left her two kids in a hot car to attend a job interview, made national headlines. What’s your take on Taylor’s daunting experience?
AP: Shanesha fits our image of a typical low-income single mother, trying to make ends meet. Life is a struggle with meeting expenses, looking after children and providing for their education. Shanesha wanted to improve her life by getting a job, but even showing up for the job interview proved to be a struggle. I have a lot of sympathy for her and women in her situation who feel trapped by their economic and social circumstances, but are hoping against hope for an opportunity to transform their life.
In my study with my colleague Abby McCloskey, […] one of the things we talk about is reforming the system of child care support that exists in the current tax code. In particular, we talk about expanding the size of the child care tax credit and making it refundable. The child care tax credit provides a credit for families to help meet their child care expenses. Currently, the size of the credit is low relative to average costs of child care and it has not been expanded since the 1980s. Also, it is not refundable—in other words, if a tax filer does not have a tax liability, they don’t get the advantage of the tax credit. This leaves many low-income women out of the system. Our proposal would help low-income women access the credit and offset more of their child care expenses, enabling them to enter the workforce more easily.
MN: What do you say to young women who say, “Marriages fall apart, too. A piece of paper and a ring doesn’t help!”
AP: While single mothers fare worse in the labor market than married mothers, I think the solution to improving economic mobility begins before you enter the labor market. The strongest predictor of high mobility is investments in education—completing high school, going to college or technical or vocational school. That is key. Unemployment and poverty rates are highest for individuals with low levels of education. So go to school and get trained! The older the ages at which women get married, the higher their education levels, the more stable are the families and the higher the earnings potential of the family.
MN: Lastly, for women who are single moms, are there solutions to improve their financial standing?
AP: High levels of education are the biggest hedge against poverty and unemployment. All other solutions are secondary. The social safety net is a last resort! For low-income women, there are government programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit that have been successful at getting them to enter the labor market. These could be expanded. The child care tax credit should be expanded to enable them to meet expenses of child care while staying employed. I personally do not believe that the government should force employers to offer paid maternity leave, since that could impose costs on businesses and make them more reluctant to hire women who will avail of these benefits.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
And for more information about single Black motherhood, check out the Moguldom Studios film “72 Percent,” available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon DVD. Click here for the trailer. Purchase your copy today!
The latest job numbers continued the gains we’ve seen in past months, but the final tally was markedly lower. In July, 209,000 jobs were added to the US economy, versus 298,000 in June. While the number is disappointing, taken from a wider view, 1.5 million jobs have been added in the past six months, the strongest figures since 2009. That includes a small comeback in the manufacturing and construction areas, which were hard hit when the housing market collapsed.
“Jobs in these sectors tend to offer middle-class wages. The recovery is no longer dominated by hiring for low-wage retail and restaurant jobs,” writes CNNMoney.
Nearly nine million jobs were lost during the recession, according to numbers provided by the site.
Still, there are roadblocks to this recovery. The unemployment rate actually went up a touch, from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent as job seekers, seeing encouraging signs, decided to resume the search for work.
Then there’s the fact that the job gains are not evenly spread. For Blacks, the unemployment rate jumped from 10.7 percent up to 11.4 percent between June and July. Then you have the persistence of the wage gap, which impacts everyone, but some groups more than others.
“Women of color across the U.S. face a wage gap affected by both gender and race. An African American woman working full time, year-round, makes on average a whopping $18,650 less each year than a white man working full time, year-round,” reads The Huffington Post.
And the repercussions of the wage gap are felt well into our golden years.
“Because retirement savings are ever more closely tied to income, the widening gulf between the rich and those with less promises to continue — and perhaps worsen — after workers reach retirement age,” reports the Associated Press. “That is likely to put pressure on government services and lead even more Americans to work well into what is supposed to be their golden years.” The average Social Security payment last year was about $1,300 per month. And retirement savings is dropping as fewer people participate in savings plans, in some cases because just living from month to month is a struggle.
Finally, the wages themselves haven’t increased by a significant amount — only a penny an hour in July to $24.45. Overall, wages have gone up two percent in the past year, not enough to keep up with the rising costs of food, student loan repayments, and the other necessities of life.
A CNN/ORC International study released on Friday found that 41 percent of people rate the economy as “good” while 58 percent say it’s “fair.” So people realize that while things are improving, we’re not out of the woods. (Though the one percent seem to be doing just fine.) It’s forecast that the economy will play a big role in who gets elected in November, and the minimum wage question will continue to be debated as one solution for what financially ails the country.
The general public usually gets outraged when they hear about exorbitant executive salaries, particularly for companies that aren’t doing very well. California is now trying to take action against the ever-expanding salary gap between CEOs and employees with a process to ban “out of whack” CEO salaries.
A new bill that will do just that is in the state Legislature with support from Democratic leaders, organized labor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, reports The Huffington Post.
According to Reich, the bill would reward “responsible” companies by giving them lower tax rates and ultimately help the middle class by boosting the U.S. economy.
Under bill SB1372 companies that pay CEOs more than 100 times the median wage of their workers would have to pay a higher corporate tax rate. But on the other hand, firms with a smaller wage gap would benefit from a lower rate.
Currently the tax rate is 8.84 percent of net income for all corporations. For cooperating companies it would be dropped down to 7 percent and for offending firms it would be increased to 13 percent .
Of course there is opposition to the bill. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, the proposed bill would cause cost jobs. “Chamber lobbyist Jennifer Barrera told the committee the bill would discourage corporate investment in California,” reports HuffPo.
And Gina Rodriquez, the California Taxpayers Association’s vice president for state tax policy, claimed it would make California appear hostile to business.
The naysayers might be jumping the gun. Even the authors of the bill aren’t sure of its passage since it will need a two-thirds super-majority, which seems unlikely since Republicans are expected to vote against it.
Still the Dems say such a bill, the first of its kind in the nation, is important and necessary. AFL-CIO data shows that chief executives received an average compensation of 43 times the median U.S. worker’s pay in 1983. And the gap is a whole lot bigger today — 278 times a typical wage. There is even more proof of the gap. The CEOs of companies listed in Standard & Poor’s 500 index received an average of 354 times more in salary than the median employee in 2012.
“The issue of widening inequality of income and wealth and opportunity and political power is one that the United States is now becoming aware of because things are getting so out of kilter,” Reich said to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.