Gannett underpays women and women of color: union study

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Media corporation Gannett pays women, especially women of color, significantly less than their male white counterparts, according to a study from the union the NewsGuild, Communication Workers of America.

The study looked at 14 of the over 250 Gannett newsrooms.

The union found that women with 30-plus years of experience made $27,026 less, or 63 percent of the annual median salary of men, while women of color earned $15,727 less, or 73 percent of the white male median salary.

Overall, women earned $9,845 less, or 83 percent of men’s median salaries, and journalists of color made $5,246 less, or 90 percent of their white counterparts’ median salary.

The study also found that 13 of the company’s newsrooms are less diverse than the cities they serve. 

In a statement, Gannett said the union’s study was flawed.

“The NewsGuild-CWA issued a misleading document based on outdated data alleging pay inequities on a small subset of Gannett’s more than 250 newsrooms,” a Gannett spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We strongly disagree with its methodology and its findings.”

The 14 newsrooms in the study employ 450 people and include large and small Gannett papers across the country, said Rebekah Sanders, one of the report’s authors and a consumer reporter at The Arizona Republic. 

The study also looked at papers that were part of Gannett from before and after its merger with GateHouse in 2019.

“The makeup of the sample is quite representative of the full company,” Sanders said. “And anyway, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that pay equity is a problem all across the country.”

“We are not claiming every single woman of color or woman is underpaid,” she added, “That is why we are using median salaries. But it’s clear from the medians it’s an overall trend. By in large, white and male employees make more.”

Sanders pushed back against Gannett’s claims that the union was cherry-picking data, stating that the union would love to get complete salary and demographic data of all the corporation’s employees.

“Journalists at the Arizona Republic asked the company in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to release a company-wide pay study and the company refused,” Sanders said.

When asked, a company spokesman would not comment on whether Gannett plans on releasing salary and demographic information of all its employees. 

In the past, groups have praised Gannett for its diversity efforts.

On April 20, Forbes named Gannett one of the Best Employers for Diversity 2021 for the second year and placed it 435 out of a list of 500 companies ranked by the diversity of their boards and executives. They were also ranked by the proactiveness of their diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Currently, Sanders said, the NewsGuild represents Gannett workers at 41 papers and three New Jersey Gannett papers are currently organizing and will likely join the union as one chapter soon.  

There are “a lot more coming,” Sanders added.

Tags diversity and inclusion Equal pay Gannett Gender pay gap NewsGuild racial pay gap Unions

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