Main image of article Are All Genders and Races in Tech Getting Paid What They’re Worth?

When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in tech, compensation is a hot-button issue. In Dice’s new Equality in Tech Report, we asked more than 9,000 technologists about their perspectives on racial and gender equality in the tech world and within their organizations—including as it relates compensation. Here’s what they had to tell us. 

Gender and Compensation 

The discussion around gender and compensation has intensified over the past few years, and with good reason.

More than a third (35 percent) of technologist respondents who identified as women reported dissatisfaction with their current compensation, versus 29 percent of technologist respondents who identified as men. Overall, 57 percent of men reported satisfaction with current compensation, versus 53 percent of women. 

Virtually  half of technologists identifying as women (49 percent) believe they’re underpaid relative to other people with the same occupation and skill level. Compare that with 45 percent of technologists identifying as men who reported feeling underpaid. 

Numerous studies have identified a gap in pay between men and women, and many tech companies (including giants such as Google) have taken proactive steps to ensure that compensation is more equitable across their organizations. The California Fair Pay Act, designed to protect employees from gender-based pay discrimination, is just one example of state governments attempting to influence companies’ behavior, as well. 

In order to combat dissatisfaction with pay, along with the perception that certain groups are underpaid, some companies have tried to become more transparent about how much people are paid across the organization. In 2019, for instance, Intel announced that it would publicly reveal employee compensation data, a step echoed by other, smaller companies. While the idea of radical transparency might frighten HR staffers and executives who fear it’ll result in employee infighting, companies don’t necessarily need to reveal individuals’ specific compensation to enhance transparency. Pay data stripped of identifiers and presented in aggregate can also help assure employees that their compensation aligns with not only their company peers, but also industry benchmarks. 

Gender and Salary Negotiation 

While companies can take big steps to close the compensation gap (and the perception of a gap), employees can potentially benefit to some extent by negotiating for what they want.

Only 44 percent of women reported actively negotiating their salary for their most recent new job at a new company, compared to 49 percent of men. Nearly 51 percent of women also reported that they didn’t negotiate at all, compared to 47 percent of men.  

For technologists, the key to negotiation is showing how you add value to the organization. That means doing your research and itemizing how you’ve contributed substantially to projects and, ultimately, the company’s goals. And while negotiation will ideally result in a bump in compensation, you should always have some flexibility when it comes to offers; for example, your manager might be willing to raise your pay, but they might draw the line on additional stock options.  

If your company has embraced any degree of pay transparency, use data from the Dice Salary Report (Technologist Edition) and other sources when comparing compensation and formulating your “ask.” For organizations, this also requires you to be aware of salary trends and how you align with the market (you can also access the recruiter edition of the Dice Salary Report here). 

Race and Compensation 

For years, select companies have moved aggressively to make compensation more equitable for all employees, regardless of their race and/or ethnicity. In 2017, for instance, Apple claimed that it had closed the compensation gaps among all U.S. demographic groups—while revealing virtually no data about actual salary or benefits. Pay inequality remains a pervasive issue in tech, and it’s impacting how technologists of various backgrounds feel about their compensation. 

Although 60 percent of White technologist respondents reported being satisfied with their salary, only 50 percent of Black technologists could say the same; the numbers dipped even more for other groups, including Hispanic/Latino(a) technologists (49 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander technologists (49 percent), and Asian Indian technologists (45 percent). Not surprisingly, White technologists reported being “very satisfied” more than members of any other group.  

As with gender and pay, there’s also a significant “perception gap” when it comes to race and compensation, with Black, Asian Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino(a) technologists more likely than White technologists to feel that they’re underpaid relative to other people in the same occupation and skill level.  

That perception gap shows that, although more companies have stepped up in recent years with comprehensive diversity programs, there’s only so much that can be done without a higher degree of pay transparency. Yet many companies seem reluctant to engage in that sort of transparency, perhaps out of fear that a competitor will use that data to steal away valuable employees. 

Until employees see how their compensation compares to their peers and the industry as a whole, they could potentially believe that they are underpaid. When companies like Google are forced to settle with the federal government for millions of dollars over allegations of hiring and salary discrimination (as the search-engine giant did in February 2020), it only increases some technologists’ suspicions that something is fundamentally wrong with their industry’s approach to compensation, no matter how often companies claim that the salary gap has been closed. 

Race and Salary Negotiation 

Given the historically low unemployment rates in tech (according to CompTIA, the national unemployment rate for tech occupations was 2.4 percent, down from 3 percent in December 2020), technologists who have the right combination of skills and experience can often negotiate for the compensation they deserve. However, the data makes it clear that not all races and ethnicities are taking full advantage of that fact. As a group, White technologists reported more of a willingness to negotiate for better compensation at a new job at a new company. 

Although 51 percent of White technologists said they negotiated compensation at that new job and company, only 45 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander technologists, 43 percent of Hispanic/Latino(a) technologists, 39 percent of Asian Indian technologists, and 40 percent of Black technologists reported the same.  

Salary negotiation is ultimately in the best interests of technologists. Employees who remain at their company won’t take their valuable experience and skills to a competitor. Companies that want to retain a diverse employee base must create an atmosphere in which technologists can be open and proud of their accomplishments.  

For more on discrimination, inclusion and equality in the tech industry, check out Dice’s new Equality in Tech Report. Help us keep the conversation going by sharing the report with your friends, family and network.