Washington Post Guild Report Finds Newspaper Pays Women Less Than Men, Employees of Color Less Than White Men

Washington Post employees work hard every day to ensure that our company is a leader in the journalism industry. Members of our company’s union, The Washington Post Newspaper Guild, believe The Post should also lead the way in how it treats its staff.

(Download this report as a PDF)

We want to foster an environment where all people, regardless of their gender, race, religion, sex, age or job, feel they are heard, respected and paid fairly.

Our company has expressed a commitment to these values. But the members of the Post Guild believe that true progress can only be achieved when we begin with the facts. And the facts tell us that The Post has a problem with pay disparity.

The Post has never conducted and released to the public a comprehensive pay study of its own. So this year, Post Guild decided to do one itself.

Our union contract with Post management mandates that the company give us pay data on Guild-covered employees on an annual basis. We requested this information in July 2019 and spent four months analyzing the data, a reporting effort led by Pulitzer Prize-winning data journalist Steven Rich and supported by a team of dozens of other Post Guild members. We took care to protect the integrity of the data and the privacy of our members.

The result of those efforts is this new report — the most comprehensive study to date of pay at The Washington Post.

This is what we found.

IN THE NEWSROOM:

  • Women as a group are paid less than men.
  • Collectively, employees of color are paid less than white men, even when controlling for age and job description. White women are paid about the median for their age.
    • Women of color in the newsroom receive $30,000 less than white men — a gap of 35 percent when comparing median salaries.
  • The pay disparity between men and women is most pronounced among journalists under the age of 40: When adjusting for similar age groups, which in most cases is a good stand-in for years in journalism, it becomes clear that the pay disparity between men and women exists almost exclusively among employees under the age of 40.
  • Men receive a higher percentage of merit pay raises than women, despite accounting for a smaller proportion of the newsroom.
  • The Post tends to give merit raises based on performance evaluation scores, but those who score the highest are overwhelmingly white. The Post is fairly consistent across races/ethnicities and genders at awarding raises to those who do well on performance evaluations.
    • But in 85 percent of instances in which a 4 or higher was awarded to a salaried newsroom employee, that employee was white. Employees are rated on a scale of 1 to 5.
    • On the flip side, 37 percent of scores below 3 were given to employees of color in the newsroom (the newsroom is about 24 percent nonwhite).
  • Pay disparities have narrowed from the Graham era to the Bezos era, but most have not shrunk to within what could be considered parity.

IN THE COMMERCIAL DIVISION:

  • Men and women are paid about the same. Gender pay disparities are nearly nonexistent among salaried employees in the commercial division’s nine departments.
  • Pay disparities do exist, however, when analyzing for race or ethnicity. The median salary for white employees in commercial is $88,000, compared with $83,445 for people of color — a difference of $4,555, or 5 percent.
    • The disparity is even larger when adjusted for age, suggesting that employees of color in commercial are paid less than their white peers despite having more experience.

The Guild recognizes that these are complicated problems and reflect deeply entrenched disparities in our society. But we believe the company can and must make a significant and urgent effort to address them.

The results of the study were shared with the company ahead of publication. Members of the Guild also met with representatives of Post management to review the findings and invited management to respond. The company declined to comment. If The Post disagrees with any of the Guild’s conclusions, we welcome the company to conduct and share a study of its own.

We must note that the ability to analyze pay disparities at The Post has been hindered by the company’s lack of specific data on the professional experience of its employees, who sometimes have built lengthy careers before joining The Post. The relative lack of diversity at The Post, particularly the relatively low numbers of black and Hispanic or Latino newsroom employees, also complicated our analysis because of the small sample sizes — but in itself demonstrates that the company must do better to recruit and retain a diverse staff.

We know there are common-sense steps the company can take to eliminate these disparities, and we have outlined a list of those recommendations at the end of this report.

We believe in The Washington Post’s ability to do better. We want to help our company get there. This is our guide to making it happen.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post Guild