When Intel became the first major company to release its government data detailing employee pay information, the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer said in a statement that she hoped its move “will encourage others in the industry to do the same.” The data revealed that 41 of 52 top executives making more than $208,000 (roughly Rs. 1.5 crores) a year were men and 37 were white. An analysis by Bloomberg, which first reported the data, showed that 1 in 4 white men at Intel are in the top salary band, while less than 10 percent of black employees are top earners.
But so far, none of the other big tech companies have committed to matching the chipmaker’s transparency about employee pay data.
Microsoft said in an emailed statement that it “does not have anything more to share at this time” while noting that its median employee makes about $172,000 (roughly Rs. 1.2 crores) and that it is committed to equal pay. Google said it “had nothing more to share specifically” on the government data “at the moment” but highlighted other diversity statistics. Facebook also said that while it will continue to publish government data about its workforce demographics, it did not plan to release the pay data.
Several experts said that the chipmaker’s voluntary release of the confidential data is unlikely to produce a groundswell of followers.
“It’s unlikely to be widespread unless there’s some kind of external pressure for it,” said Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies employment data. Not only might employers be concerned that the data will be misunderstood or paint them in a poor light but the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it plans to shelve the rule requiring the pay data collection.
Under an Obama-era rule, the EEOC asked all employers with 100 or more employees to supply data about the number of US workers by race and gender across 10 broad job categories – the EEO-1 form that has been required for decades – as well as provide additional data breaking down those categories by pay band.
Pay advocates said collecting the data was intended to help reveal potential pay disparities. But some business leaders said the data did not reflect actual employee positions and was burdensome and costly to collect. In September, the EEOC said it planned to shelve the program, citing costs to employers and its “unproven utility.” (Facebook cited this decision in its statement, noting that it is “keeping abreast of the department’s recommendations for further reporting should that materialise.”)
James Paretti – an attorney with Littler Mendelson who was a former chief of staff for EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, who voted against the rule – said he has not been having conversations with clients about releasing the data. “I doubt this will be indicative of a strong trend,” he said, noting that “the conversations I’ve had most with my clients are about what an incredible amount of time, money and energy is going into [this].”
Companies may also choose not to release the data knowing that the EEOC is planning to drop the rule. “I think when you tell employers you’re not going to do it anymore, it discourages them not only from reporting it but doing so publicly,” said Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, who worked on former first lady Michelle Obama’s staff.
Intel chief diversity officer Barbara Whye said in a statement that the company released the data because “transparency and open sharing of our data enable us to both celebrate our progress and confront our setbacks.” She said the company wants to “lead the industry in this space by raising the transparency bar for ourselves and, as a result, raising it for others.”
She also said the company knows it “needs better female and underrepresented male representation in leadership positions in the US and worldwide. There is a gap in progression for women and underrepresented populations from senior management into our director and executive level ranks. These drops are preventable, and we are doubling down on our inclusion efforts, including a re-evaluation of leadership progression to make sure women and underrepresented groups are advancing within the company.”
Many employers are hesitant to release their traditional EEO-1 form, which only collects US demographic data, not pay. When The Washington Post asked the 15 largest US banks to share that form, only two produced the form in its entirety for all three years requested.
Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting asked 211 of the largest technology companies for the original forms; it said in 2018 that only 30 had made them public for any year.
© The Washington Post 2019