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Nov. 7, 2019, 11:54 a.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Christine Schmidt   |   November 7, 2019

The guild of the Washington Post — not the news outlet itself, it’s important to note — shared its findings from a study of pay at the Post. The results, like most of the journalism industry, were not great, especially on the newsroom side.

— Women as a group are paid less than men.
— Collectively, employees of color are paid less than white men, even when controlling for age and job description. White women are paid about the median for their age.
— Women of color in the newsroom receive $30,000 less than white men — a gap of 35 percent when comparing median salaries.
— The pay disparity between men and women is most pronounced among journalists under the age of 40: When adjusting for similar age groups, which in most cases is a good stand-in for years in journalism, it becomes clear that the pay disparity between men and women exists almost exclusively among employees under the age of 40.
— Men receive a higher percentage of merit pay raises than women, despite accounting for a smaller proportion of the newsroom.
— The Post tends to give merit raises based on performance evaluation scores, but those who score the highest are overwhelmingly white. The Post is fairly consistent across races/ethnicities and genders at awarding raises to those who do well on performance evaluations.

On the business side, men and women were paid about the same but people of color made less than white people and “the disparity is even larger when adjusted for age, suggesting that employees of color in commercial are paid less than their white peers despite having more experience.

Data journalist Steven Rich led a team of Post journalists reviewing the data over the past four months, (29 are credited in the report) but the guild acknowledges its limitations:

Members of the Guild also met with representatives of Post management to review the findings and invited management to respond. The company declined to comment. If The Post disagrees with any of the Guild’s conclusions, we welcome the company to conduct and share a study of its own.

We must note that the ability to analyze pay disparities at The Post has been hindered by the company’s lack of specific data on the professional experience of its employees, who sometimes have built lengthy careers before joining The Post. The relative lack of diversity at The Post, particularly the relatively low numbers of black and Hispanic or Latino newsroom employees, also complicated our analysis because of the small sample sizes — but in itself demonstrates that the company must do better to recruit and retain a diverse staff.

Post management called the report “seriously flawed,” telling Poynter:

The Post is committed to paying employees fairly for the work they perform, and we believe that we do so, taking into account relevant factors like position, years of experience, and performance. It is regrettable that the Guild published a report on pay that does not appear to accurately account for these and other relevant factors, which have nothing to do with race or gender. In fact, the Guild concedes that its study’s “topline numbers such as median salary by gender or race and ethnicity cannot capture the entire story of pay at The Post.” We believe the report is seriously flawed. It is disappointing that the Guild chose to issue it — The Post told the Guild before its release that we had many questions about their methodology.

Sounds like an opportunity for the Post to release its own report, no? (I’ve reached out to them for comment and will update.)

The guild also shared more granular detail on the data, including interviews with unnamed employees. Steps are in place to combat the disparity, if people know about them; “it’s this continual uphill battle of just trying to get even,” said one employee who participated in a salary review after finding out they were $14,000 short of a peer employee. The report concludes with seven recommendations; here are the toplines:

  1. The Post should strengthen and better formalize the salary review process.
  2. The Post should allow direct managers to know how much their reports make.
  3. The Post should ensure that pay disparities do not begin during the hiring process.
  4. The Post also should re-evaluate the existing two-year intern program.
  5. The Post must do more to ensure that the company reflects the diversity of American society.
  6. To hold the company accountable in creating an equitable and diverse workplace, we also recommend that The Post hire an equity, diversity and inclusion chair/consultant and form a diversity committee.
  7. The Post should hire a third-party consultant to conduct an annual pay study and share the results with Post employees, along with any recommended changes.

Media Twitter, of course, aired its views:

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