Women of color are significantly less likely than white men to receive a raise after asking for one, despite the fact that no single gender or racial group is more likely to ask for a raise than any other.
That’s one finding of a recent report from PayScale, a compensation data and software company. The report also showed that men of color were 25 percent less likely than a white man.
“We’re not seeing a difference in who’s asking, but we’re seeing a difference in who is receiving,” said Lydia Frank, vice president at PayScale.
The study collected data from 160,000 respondents from November 2017 to April 2018.
The report also found that men and women had different reasons for why they did not ask for raises in the past.
Men were more likely than women to say they hadn’t requested a raise because they either had received one without asking or because they were already content with their salary. That’s compared to women who were more likely than men — by 9 percentage points — to say they hadn’t asked for a raise because they are uncomfortable negotiating salary.
Valerie Wilson, Director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy, said the report challenges criticisms that people who don’t receive raises aren’t aggressive enough in negotiating a pay raise.
Wilson noted that the consequences of being denied a raise can linger for an entire career by hindering workers’ ability to change between jobs or move up into a job that pays more.
Women and people of color suffer disproportionately from pay gaps starting with their first salaries, said Kimberly Churches, chief executive of the American Association of University Women. From those first jobs, white men are often given larger salaries and responsibilities because “we feel in our society that these are men’s roles.”
“When you start out with your very first job earning less than a man, and then a man is given a pay raise, you can see how this compounds over time,” Churches said.
Churches added that Hispanic women were paid 54 percent of what white men were paid, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2016. Black women earned 63 percent of white men’s earnings.
A fundamental way for companies to address pay gaps is to boost transparency around employee salaries, Frank said. That includes concrete policies that show all employees what everyone else makes, or that mandates that companies share market data used to determine salaries.
Churches added that companies should also allow employees to talk about their salaries with one another, and that companies should publish the findings of regular pay audits.
Still, at the core of the issue, Churches, Frank and Wilson agreed, rests the toxic and historical consequences of bias and discrimination toward women and minorities.