The Impact of Workplace DEI – Part III -Compensation Inequity

When the term “wage gap” first became popularized, it referred to a major gulf between the salaries women earned compared to men for doing the same work. Even though the wage gap has been on the radar for decades, progress on this issue has been slow.

In this post, we’ll look at the impact of workplace DEI when it comes to compensation, including how gender, race, sexual orientation, and other identity markers determine compensation. The statistics are stark and compelling.

Statistics on compensation for women and other minorities

On average, women in the US earns 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. If that isn’t bad enough, that number has only budged by about eight cents over the last quarter century.

The numbers are even bleaker when race is a factor. Here are the average earnings per dollar earned by men, for racialized women:

  • Latinas: 49 cents
  • Native American women: 50 cents
  • Black women: 58 cents

When measured over the course of an entire career, this wage gap means women stand to lose large sums of money as compared to their male counterparts. A white woman who starts working at age 20 would have to work to the age of 72 to achieve the same lifetime earnings as a man who started working at the same age but retired at the age of 60. Racialized women lose about a million dollars’ worth of potential earnings over the course of a 40-year career.

Education doesn’t uplift everyone equally

Another stark dimension impacting workplace DEI is that education doesn’t produce the same outcomes across the board when it comes to salary. According to census information on median income levels by race and possession of a bachelor’s degree, Black and Hispanic workers earn about 25% less than their Asian and white counterparts, despite having the same educational credentials.

Here’s a breakdown of the median annual earnings for workers with bachelor’s degrees:

  • Hispanic workers: $47,406
  • Black workers: $50,108
  • White workers: $61,176
  • Asian workers: $62,292

The same gaps persist even when advanced degrees are attained. In professional fields such as medicine and law, white and Asian professionals earn, on average, $115 to $120K annually. Black and Hispanic professionals earn $70 to $80K.

Here are a few more statistics that illustrate the ongoing inequalities in compensation affecting the US workforce. On average:

  • A Black woman with a bachelor’s degree earns on par with a white man who only has a high school diploma.
  • A white man with a bachelor’s degree earns $20K more than a Black woman with a master’s degree.
  • No matter what level of education a Black woman attains, her earnings relative to a white man never exceed 67 cents to his one dollar.

Addressing the pay gap

The facts are clear: DEI initiatives are more urgent than ever to ensure that all workers are compensated fairly.

So what can forward-thinking organizations do to address the pay gap? Plenty.

Perform pay audits

Organizations should make it a priority to review their salary decisions, including starting pay, merit-based increases, and promotion-based increases to identify if and where unconscious bias may be influencing them. While many organizations already do this through the lens of gender, it’s just as essential to consider race, sexual orientation, and other identity markers.

Offer mentoring and training opportunities

With a solid pay audit process in place, the next step is to make sure that opportunities to advance into higher-paying roles are equitably offered across the workforce. Offering corporate training is a powerful way to empower employees and open a path to meaningful internal growth.

Jigsaw Interactive specializes in custom virtual training solutions that foster engagement and accountability. Schedule a demo to see how it works.