COMP NEWS – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently championed a new report that showed its pay data collection successfully helps the agency prioritize investigations into pay discrimination.

The study finds that the data EEOC collected may be used effectively by the agency to help focus its resources to identify pay discrimination and offers short-term and long-term recommendations for improving pay data collection by the agency if undertaken in the future.  The National Academies study was commissioned by a unanimous vote of the bipartisan Commission in 2020.

“The study confirmed what we at the EEOC have long known – collecting and analyzing pay data can be a useful tool in preventing and combating pay discrimination in American workplaces,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The National Academies’ rigorous examination of the Commission’s historic first pay data collection validates our efforts to collect and use compensation data to achieve pay equity in our nation.”

The EEOC’s pay data collection can be used to identify major discrepancies in compensation among race and gender lines within industries and even specific companies.

As an example of the data’s potential use, National Academies’ review of the 2018 data revealed some unnamed employers in the Silicon Valley technology sector that have significant race and gender disparities compared to their industry counterparts that are worthy of further examination. For example:

  • One employer had a -51.3% pay gap for Black men compared to white men in the professionals job category;
  • Another employer had a -52.3% pay gap for Hispanic female professionals relative to white male professionals; and
  • A third employer had a -52.4% pay gap for Asian female technicians compared to white male technicians.

The EEOC expanded the level of pay information it collected in 2016 from private sector employers and federal contractors. Following a short legal dispute, the agency was allowed to complete its widened data collection in 2020.

Because lack of access to pay data has been a longstanding barrier in the efforts to enforce federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination, the EEOC in 2016 voted to collect pay information from certain private sector employers and federal contractors. Although the next Administration stayed the collection of pay data, a federal court rescinded the stay, and the EEOC completed its collection of 2017 and 2018 pay data under court order in 2020.

[EEOC Chair Charlotte] Burrows added, “Pay discrimination continues to be a significant impediment to economic fairness for millions of workers, which, in turn, harms the nation. Yet pay discrimination is hard to fight, because it’s hidden from view. This study confirms that federal pay data collection could be a unique and critically important resource for helping the Commission better identify and combat pay discrimination. The report from the National Academies, together with input from employers, employees, unions, and the public, will help inform the Commission’s decision-making in this area going forward.”

To read more about the EEOC’s pay data collection, click here.

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