OLD Media Moves

WSJ union: Pay disparity is real

June 13, 2017

Posted by Chris Roush

IAPElogoThe IAPE 1096, the union that represents journalists at The Wall Street Journal, sent out the following on Tuesday:

Last year we published data showing a significant pay gap at Dow Jones between men and women who are members of IAPE, your union.  The company in response studied the matter and said their internal and external reviews showed that salaries did not vary because of gender.
Now, IAPE has commissioned a detailed study of male and female pay rates at Dow Jones — and the troubling results confirm our previous findings that pay disparities at the company are very real, and longstanding.
The study, conducted by Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, looked at Dow Jones pay data for every union-represented employee from 2000 to the middle of 2016 and found that there was a significant gender pay gap in in every location, in every quarter, and within the largest job single category here: reporter.
You can see all of the data HERE (http://iape1096.org/info/documents/170612PEreview.pdf). Below, we’ve picked out some particular points of importance.
WSJ pay chart 1This is the most powerful and detailed set of data we’ve ever been able to offer as you consider whether you are being fairly compensated.  We encourage you to use the study results in salary discussions with your managers, and upon request we can give you more individualized data to help you determine how you stack up with peers in similarly situated positions.
We have presented Dow Jones with the results of our study and plan to continue to press the issue.  We’d also welcome your input as we move forward.
When we published our earlier findings last year, the company said our underlying data were correct — after all, they gave the information to us — but our conclusions were wrong, because we didn’t account for all the reasons why employees’ salaries might vary, like differing job titles, experience levels, or work locations.
Dow Jones did find that “less than three percent of our employees, a group that included both men and women and spanned multiple ethnicities, needed adjustments to align their salaries with those of colleagues as well as the overall marketplace,” according to Mark Musgrave, the company’s Chief People Officer.
WSJ pay chart 2The new IAPE study found that far beyond three percent of employees have been affected, and it can’t simply be explained by men and women doing different jobs here (an important subject for another day.)
We asked Strength in Numbers to study the reporter job category as a starting point because it was the one that most readily leant itself to this kind of examination. This doesn’t mean that sales, or IT are fine — in fact, we suspect the opposite — but investigating the company’s pay practices in those areas is more complicated because employees in those positions can have a wide range of different job titles, some of them unique.
The study’s findings on reporter salaries show notable pay disparities within a single job category, which undercuts the company’s suggestion that gender pay differences are due more to factors like the company having more men working in IT jobs, which pay more, and more women in customer service, which pays less.
But what about experience? What if the company has historically hired men and women at different stages in their careers, and pays men more because they had more experience when they arrived? We asked Strength in Numbers to analyze that too.
What they found is very important: among the reporters of Dow Jones, there is a significant pay gap between men and women that cannot be explained away by experience.
This chart shows the average pay of every male reporter, and every female reporter, at each age when they were employed with the company (going back to the year 2000.) Age is a pretty good ‘proxy’ for experience, we think. On this, the company agrees with us.
WSJ pay chart 3The chart shows a statistically significant — and troubling — pattern.
Female reporters in their 30s have routinely been paid less than male reporters in their 30s, and this will continue to be true for most years that follow if they stay in the company.
In other words, there is a distinct and persistent gap between pay for men and women at Dow Jones even when they hold the same job title and have acquired the same number of years of experience.
The question of pay disparities between workers of different races is a trickier statistical undertaking, complicated by the fact that we have few employees of color in our largest job category, that of reporter. But we are committed to pursuing a detailed study of that as soon as possible.
You may be wondering at this point how our pay findings and the company’s findings can be so different. So, what gives?
The company continues to refuse to answer much of our requests about how they conducted their studies. Dow Jones has said documents requested by IAPE are “proprietary,” “confidential,” and “not relevant to the union’s ability to police the contract.”
But we know what they told members who attended a Women at DJ session, in part because members who attended those sessions asked really terrific questions.
We know that Dow Jones asked their statisticians only to consider really glaring salary disparities — “two standard deviations” from a predicted pay range based on an employee’s title, experience (age) and performance reviews — and then they went to managers and asked them to justify them.
We also learned that managers often could explain disparities within a single job category and department to Dow Jones’ satisfaction by citing factors such as an employee’s salary before coming to work at Dow Jones, languages they spoke, or that they get more of a certain type of preferred byline or pretty much anything else they wanted to.
In the end, IAPE was told that the company gave adjustments to 31 employees, almost all of them women or minority men, after the Willis Towers Watson review. In what was the main response the company did provide to IAPE’s request for information about salary adjustments, the company produced a document showing that additional pay increases — ranging from 3% to 27% — were granted to these union-represented employees.
Dow Jones says it told these employees that the boosts were to bring them in line with other employees in their group, though not necessarily a product of a pay-equity problem.
We don’t want to believe that the company actually values male workers it hires more highly than female workers of comparable experience, let alone if those female employees happen to have been hit with poor salaries at previous jobs.
But the data speak, loudly. The question for Union-represented employees is, how to get management to listen?
IAPE suggests a direct approach with immediate managers — especially this time of year, during performance evaluations. Even if you’ve already had your review, the new data provide a good opportunity for raising pay concerns if you believe you’re among those who fall on the wrong side of the gap.
To that end, IAPE offers salary comparisons as a service to members. Simply reach out to the Union office and request a salary review, and IAPE representatives can provide you with a personalized analysis on how you’re faring relatively to similarly situated peers. We can’t name names or give out very personal information but we can give you some helpful guidance.
With this data in hand, explain to your manager the inequity of being ranked behind peers with the same — or less — experience. And emphasize your accomplishments to justify merit raises. Because nothing in the IAPE/DJ contract prevents management from granting pay raises in excess of the annual hikes already required.
If you want to talk directly to your colleagues about pay, know this: It’s neither illegal for you to ask, nor illegal for them to tell. The National Labor Relations Act protects such discussions.
And by the way, this advice doesn’t just apply to female or minority employees. As we learned from this exercise, the different salaries for people with comparable experience reveal a broader issue with how pay is set here at Dow Jones. It seems to disproportionately affect female employees, but not exclusively (and again, we regret that we can’t tell you how it affects employees of color at all.)
IAPE is interested in hearing how men and women of all job titles and of all ethnicities feel about how Dow Jones handles issues of pay equity — and also working conditions around gender and race (and sexual orientation and disability and religion and every other kind of diversity) more generally. We’d like to know how you’d characterize your experience here, and welcome you to email us at union@iape.org.
Finally, we know that Dow Jones is continuing to evaluate where pay gaps stand now in the year since they conducted their past study. But if they do it the same way they did last year, we anticipate they’ll significantly understate the problem.
So, we will do our own review again too, and invest in the big questions about race. And we pledge to answer whatever questions you may have as quickly and as frankly as we can, and to support you in your ideas for tackling this in your department or location. Please, get in touch.

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