Silicon Valley has a well-publicized diversity problem. But a new study says that when minorities are hired at tech companies, they're paid less than whites for doing the same job. The research, conducted by the American Institute for Economic Research, assessed the most influential technology companies and examined their workforces, taking into account race, education, occupation, age, geography, gender and citizenship status.
On average, Hispanic employees bring home $16,353 less every year than non-Hispanic colleagues, Asians earn $8,146 less than whites, and blacks earn $3,656 less than whites, the study found.
“What this tells us is that race and ethnicity matter, and they matter a lot,” Nicole Kreisberg, the senior research analyst on the project, told USA Today. “Simply increasing diversity is not enough. We also have to talk about money.”
Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Google and a number of other major tech companies have released diversity reports showing that technology offices throughout the Bay Area are overwhelmingly staffed by white males. Seventy percent of Google’s workforce is male, for example, while Intel’s male-to-female ratio is 3:1.
These entrepreneurial companies that have changed the world can’t be making personnel decisions based solely on race and gender, though, can they? Well, not on purpose, Freada Kapor Klein, co-chair for the Kapor Center for Social Impact, told USA Today, but it’s happening nonetheless.
“At every point in the hiring process, hidden bias trickles in,” she said. “A drop at the stage of reviewing names on resumes, a few more drops at the stage of different gender and race styles of presentation during interviews, and a steadier stream when it comes to who is expected to negotiate their salary and who isn’t.”
The AIER report comes less than two months after a study from Working Partnerships USA identified an “invisible workforce” in Silicon Valley made up minority workers filling low-wage positions.
Black and Latino workers make up 76 percent of landscape workers, 72 percent of janitors and 41 percent of private security guards throughout Santa Clara County, home to Apple, Google and dozens of others. Depending on their position, those workers earned between $11 and $14 per hour, whereas software developers earn an average of $63 per hour.
Technology leaders such as Apple CEO Tim Cook have promised to improve their workforce diversity but say little about the pay disparity afflicting tech. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made light of it Thursday that women ought not to ask for a raise, that it's "bad karma."
The pay gap is hardly unique to Silicon Valley, though, with researchers finding that women and minorities have traditionally earned less money in corporate America.
A growing movement is raising awareness about that difference – with the National Women’s Law Center enlisting comedian Sarah Silverman to appear in a public-service announcement broadcasting the fact that women earn 78 cents for every dollar as a man working in the same position. But as the AIER study makes clear, the issue spans genders and cultures.
“It’s less talked about when it comes to race,” Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder and CEO of Code2040, a nonprofit that works with black and Hispanic tech workers, told USA Today. “It’s a question of value and seeing value in these populations. And when it comes to hiring and paying people, value translates into dollars.”