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Wages Are Unequal Between White and Black Men Even When Other Factors Are Comparable

A group of people in an office talking to each other.

White men are paid more than black men, even when the men share similar educational backgrounds and are from affluent families, according to a new report from the Equality in Opportunity Project. And a study released last year found that a significant portion of the racial wage disparity can be attributed to unexplained factors that could include discrimination and differences in opportunity.

"The black-white gap in upward mobility is driven entirely by differences in men's, not women's, outcomes," according to the report from the Equality in Opportunity Project. "Black and white men have very different outcomes even if they grow up in two-parent families with comparable incomes, education, and wealth; live on the same city block; and attend the same school." 

However, they write that there are some encouraging signs that the problem can be solved.

Among the strategies the authors suggest for reducing the wage gap are creating mentoring programs for black boys and facilitating social interaction across racial groups within a given area.

SHRM Online collected the following articles from its archives and other respected news outlets about the wage disparity and how HR professionals and their organizations can deal with this issue.  

Same Family Income, Same Street, but the Black Boy Still Grows Up to Earn Less 

Virtually nowhere in the United States do African-American boys grow up to earn incomes equivalent to white boys raised in the same neighborhoods by parents with comparable wealth and education levels, according to a study released Monday that followed millions of children now in their late 30s or turning 40. 

The disparity holds true even for boys raised in the wealthiest of families, who grew up on the same block in the same affluent community and attended the same school as their white counterparts. The findings shows that race—not just parental income or neighborhood opportunities—factors into the yawning wealth gap between blacks and whites in America. 
(Washington Post)   

Salary History Bans Could Reshape Pay Negotiations  

Many state and local legislatures are banning employers from asking job candidates about their past pay—and salary negotiations may never be the same. Instead of looking at what an applicant is earning, pay attention to the skill set the person has and how relevant it is to the job being filled. 
(HR Magazine

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Pay Equity]   

Why Pay Equity Keeps Getting More Complicated 

Momentum to ramp up requirements on employers to address the pay gap between men and women, and between white and minority employees, is shifting to the states and cities, said Mickey Silberman, a shareholder in the Denver office of law firm Fortney & Scott and chair of the firm's affirmative action and pay equity practice group.

Silberman advised employers to conduct pay audits in the quarter before an organization's regular pay-cycle increase. He pointed out that in some states, such as Massachusetts, a proactive pay analysis audit can be a "safe harbor" from legal action, if conducted in good faith, with reasonable analysis, and if reasonable progress is then made to eliminate unlawful pay disparities. 
(SHRM Online)   

Report: Minority Professionals in Cybersecurity Underrepresented in Senior Roles, Paid Less  

Cybersecurity professionals of color earn less than their white counterparts, says a new report.
A male cybersecurity professional of color earns an average salary of $121,000—the same as white females—while Caucasian males earn, on average, $124,000. Women of color working in cybersecurity earn $115,000, according to "Innovation Through Inclusion: The Multicultural Cybersecurity Workforce." 
(SHRM Online)   

The Unexplainable, Growing Black-White Wage Gap 

For the past several decades, black workers have fared worse than white workers in the U.S. labor market. Despite government policies designed to reduce or eliminate racial disparities, black workers continue to experience lower wages and higher unemployment rates than whites, according to a 2017 study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

The authors found it most notable that a significant portion of the racial wage disparity is attributable to unexplained factors, factors that are hard to characterize or measure. They suggested that unexplained factors could include discrimination, differences in school quality, and differences in opportunity.
(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)   

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