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Gender and Racial Pay Gaps Persist Among California Companies

Data collected from companies with 100 or more employees revealed that only 36 percent of the top earners were women and Hispanic and Latino people and Black people were overly represented at the lowest pay levels.

(TNS) — A state civil rights agency revealed the first round of data collected from California companies on pay equity among people of different race and ethnicities, showing stark pay gaps that disadvantage women and people of color.

The data, released Tuesday, were gathered and reported by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing under a law, SB973, that requires private companies with more than 100 employers to collect information on how much they pay people broken out by job type and along gender, racial and ethnic lines.

Statewide, women were much less likely to be in the highest salary range than men despite the breakdown of the workforce being roughly even along gender lines. Of the top earners making more than $128,960, only 36 percent were women compared to 64 percent being men.

That trend was flipped at the lower end of the wage scale however, with 55 percent of people making $30,679 annually or less being women and the rest men.

The report also looked at metropolitan statistical areas like the San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont area, finding that of the people in the highest salary range making more than $208,000 per year, roughly two-thirds were men, while only about a third were women.

The report was based on data collected on 6.3 million workers statewide in 2020. Industry breakdowns showed women were overrepresented in not only low wage positions but in administrative, sales, and service jobs among others. Men were more likely to be executives and managers.

The agency said it will release data on gender nonbinary people after additional analysis.

"Today's report reinforces the need for employers to review their compensation and other employment practices to correct pay disparities and ensure equal opportunity in their workplaces," said Fair Employment and Housing Director Kevin Kish in a statement. "DFEH will continue to vigorously enforce California's equal pay and anti-discrimination laws."

The agency also found that Asian and white people were more likely to be at the highest end of the pay scale across the state, while Hispanic and Latino people and Black people were overly represented at the lowest pay levels.

Of people making $30,679 or less: 50 percent were Hispanic or Latino, 25 percent were white, 10 percent were Asian and 8 percent were Black or African American.

That is despite 37 percent of the 6.3 million workers captured in the report being classified as Hispanic or Latino, 34 percent being white, 18 percent Asian and 6 percent Black or African American.

Only 4 percent identified as being of two or more races — 1 percent as native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander, and 0.5 percent as American Indian or Alaska Native.

At the highest end of the pay scale, of those making $128,960 or more in 2020 only 9 percent were Hispanic or Latino while 3 percent identified as Black or African American. White people made up more than half of the category while Asian people made up about a third.

Tuesday was also National Equal Pay Day and saw other government agencies focus on the issue of unfair pay gaps. The U.S. Department of Labor released a report on how the pandemic has hurt women's pay and job prospects during the pandemic. The Labor Department also instructed federal contractors to further audit their payrolls to prevent unfair pay disparities along ethnic and gender lines.

The Fair Employment and Housing report did not include data from public employers, independent contractors or companies with fewer than 100 employees workers, but other state legislation is looking to close some of those gaps in pay reporting.

Last month, state Sen. Monique Limón, D- Santa Barbara, authored SB1162, which would require companies to release more information about how much they pay employees, and the contractors they hire out through third parties.

The data released Tuesday included industry type but not company name. SB1162 would identify employers by name, and require companies with more than 100 workers to report pay data not just for their employees, but their contractor workforce as well.

Pay equity advocates say the bill is particularly important in California where technology companies and other businesses contract out a variety of jobs that often pay less and have fewer privileges than full employees.

(c)2022 the San Francisco Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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