My company just released employee-pay data, and the salary gap between men and women shows we have a lot of work ahead of us

Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Insider Inc.'s headquarters.Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Sign up here to receive our newsletter Gender at Work in your inbox twice a month.

This month Insider Inc. — my employer — released data on employee compensation.Advertisement

The results were, in a word, disappointing.

Across the company, the median salary for all female employees is $75,000. For all male employees, it's $85,000.

BIPOC employees earn $81,000 to white employees' $85,000. Female BIPOC employees make $70,000.
Advertisement

("BIPOC" stands for "black, indigenous, and people of color." And it's the term that Insider Inc. used to describe minorities in its pay report.)

That means all females earn 88.2% of what men earn, and female BIPOC employees earn 82.4% of what all males earn. Racial and gender wage gaps aren't unique to Insider Inc., or to the media industry. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, the median full-time, year-round female worker in the US earned 81.2% of her male counterpart's earnings. One subsection of female workers, Black women, made 66% of the average earnings of white men.Advertisement

Welcome to Gender at Work.

This is a twice-monthly newsletter that takes an expansive look at how your gender identity informs your career. In the past two installments, I wrote about the career implications for women and working parents during the pandemic. This week, I'm talking about pay equity, at my own company and generally.

Cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion should be part of employees' goals

I asked Melanie Naranjo, Insider Inc.'s vice president of people and culture, to share her perspective on the company's pay data. Naranjo joined Insider Inc. in 2015 and was recently promoted to this new role, in which she'll focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI.

Naranjo said she was dismayed but hardly surprised by the results.Advertisement

"We've known for a while that we have a representation issue," she told me.

Specifically, Insider Inc. has a higher representation of diversity in junior positions than in senior positions — and senior employees make more money.

Along with the rest of Insider Inc.'s talent team, Naranjo is thinking about how to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace — and not just in a pay-equity context. Two strategies she mentioned stood out to me.Advertisement

First is incorporating DEI into all employees' goals. Insider Inc. hasn't done that yet, but Naranjo shared a hypothetical example of how it might work for an editorial employee, like me.

"How are you making sure that you're reporting on a diverse set of perspectives and communities? How are you making sure that you're reaching out to a diverse set of sources?"

Other companies have already linked executive compensation to diversity numbers.Advertisement

The New York Times' Peter Eavis reported in July that, according to an analysis of public pay disclosures, 78 of 3,000 companies said CEO pay depended on whether they met certain diversity goals.

Eavis reported that part of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's performance-based stock awards depend on whether he meets certain diversity goals — including increasing the number of employees from underrepresented groups in senior positions. (Eavis also said it can be hard to know how challenging companies' diversity goals really are when executives don't share much about them.)

Middle managers play a key role in shaping company culture

But senior executives shouldn't be the only employees charged with cultivating DEI. My colleague Marguerite Ward spoke to researchers who said middle managers aren't being held accountable the way they should, considering they have significant influence over who gets hired and promoted.Advertisement

These researchers recommended that companies double down on training middle managers on developing and mentoring employees. Leadership might also tie middle managers' performance evaluations to their progress toward diversity and inclusion targets.

At Insider Inc., Naranjo said, it's also important for bosses to remember that some people come to work knowing how to advocate for themselves. Others don't. So if an employee is shy, or if they've never requested a salary raise, Naranjo said managers shouldn't think "it's because they don't care about their career."

If you feel that you're not being compensated fairly, for whatever reason, the first step is to do some research.Advertisement

When Ward and I put together a guide on this topic earlier this year, experts suggested browsing resources such as Glassdoor and PayScale and asking colleagues to weigh in on what your salary range should be.

You can also approach your HR department for more information on how compensation is calculated. (If they're less than transparent, it could be a red flag.)

Generally speaking, talking about how much money you make is slightly less taboo than it was a few years ago — which could make it easier to do that research and prepare a more robust case for why you deserve more.Advertisement

Alexandra Dickinson, the founder of negotiation-training company Ask For It, previously told me and Ward that today's professionals were willing to overcome some initial discomfort.

"Even if I feel a little weird about it," Dickinson said, "it's important to do this."

I invite you to share your experiences advocating for fair pay. In the meantime, please share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here.Advertisement

I'm also interested to know: Are there specific leaders or themes we should spotlight in this newsletter? Send suggestions to me at SLebowitz@BusinessInsider.com. I'm excited to read them.

{{}}