Mind the Gap: Valuing Diversity by Measuring Pay Gaps

By Traci L. Baird

Last year, upon completing our first organizational gender pay gap analysis at EngenderHealth, I asked whether I should worry about a reverse pay gap (when women earn, on average, more than men). I decided I shouldn’t, for a number of reasons, including that I believe an organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and which works in environments where overall there is a significant traditional pay gap (men earn more), can legitimately have more women than men in senior-level positions. (And once again, pay gap analysis is limited to a binary definition of gender, even though gender is non-binary.)

What I didn’t ask last year was whether I should be worried that we only did pay gap analysis regarding gender. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion includes but goes well beyond gender, to race and ethnicity, age, ability, religion, and more. When EngenderHealth conducts pay equity analysis a (equal pay for equal/comparable work), we examine a variety of factors, such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, and department; these factors may vary by country to account for cultural and systemic differences. But still our pay gap analysis was narrowly applied to the gender pay gap.

This year we conducted our first race/ethnicity pay gap analysis for our US/global staff.* We modeled the analysis after gender pay gap analysis: looking at the mean and median pay for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) staff and comparing their pay to the pay of white staff, represented as a percentage of the pay of white staff. Thus, a positive pay gap would signify that white staff earned more; a negative pay gap would signify that BIPOC staff earned more.

In our case, the average salaries for BIPOC staff (26 people) and white staff (17 people) are almost exactly the same—the means are less than 1% apart, slightly in favor of white staff. The median pay of BIPOC and white staff reflects a more significant negative pay gap, with BIPOC staff median salary higher than white staff median salary (-9%).

I’m honestly delighted that our efforts to have a diverse team, including many US-based staff born overseas, is reflected in a negative race/ethnicity pay gap. However, we have such a small staff that any one or two changes in staffing could flip this gap in the other direction. We saw that with our gender pay gap: last year our US team had a negative pay gap; with a few different people in positions this year, we have a traditional pay gap. These same changes probably contributed to our negative race/ethnicity pay gap (e.g., a white woman left the organization; her role is now filled by a BIPOC man).

So far, we have only done race/ethnicity pay gap analysis for our US/global team. However, I am looking forward to identifying meaningful ways to review and understand other elements of our pay gap data in other country offices. Annual review of our data helps us continue to improve policies, procedures, and practices in ways that make EngenderHealth a more inclusive organization where our staff are treated fairly and feel able to bring their full selves to work.

Learn more about the 2020 pay gap analysis here, and read the full report here.

*Staff include all US-based staff, plus staff based outside the US who serve in global roles.

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