Lies, Damn Lies and Tech's Racial Pay Gap
by Wim Dodson
The elephant in the room of Hired’s “State of Global Tech Salaries 2017” report is, “So where are all those purported black folks receiving six-figure salaries in Tech?” Hired is an online recruitment startup.
Quartz cited Hired.com used Hired’s database of 280,000 interview requests and job offers for 45,000 engineers and technologists to determine that blacks were 49% more likely to receive offers than whites for jobs in the Tech sector in New York City and San Francisco. Blacks apparently cited base salary requirements that were on average $2000 less than what companies offered, while whites were proffered $1600 less than their preference.
Several points are baffling:
- Why just compare salaries in New York and San Francisco
- Where are all those high-paid black techies?
- Is it really the case that black techies bid low, or is that the salary base they are told when they interview for jobs?
The Report’s map of salary statistics for the United States shows 11 cities, while the Report only discusses findings for two cities: New York and San Francisco. A (bit more) balanced report would include the other cities. The two cities they apparently research are outliers by any stretch of the imagination, in terms of per capita income, population, education, racial and cultural mix and more.
Another question arises when the Report states that blacks are 49% more likely to be hired than their white counterparts in Tech. Long articles are devoted to Tech’s “brogrammer” cultures, in which technology workers are overwhelmingly white males between the age of 25 and 40.
An article from the BBC entitled, “Beyond 'Brogrammers': Can AI create a meritocracy?” makes the case:
Brogrammers are not your standard, introverted computer programmers. They are a more recent stereotype: the macho, beer swilling players who went to top schools and are often hired by their friends or former fraternity brothers in the technology industry.
"If there's a group of a hundred candidates and they're from multiple different backgrounds, different races, different genders, we noticed across the board there was a certain type of programmer that would still move forward in interviews," says Iba Masood, the 27-year-old chief executive and co-founder of Tara.ai, an artificial intelligence project manager that aims to change the world by combating bias.
The Hired Report is definitely misleading, implying that blacks have and are taking huge opportunities in Tech across the United States.
And is it the case that black techies are so stupid as to not perform market research for jobs for which they apply? The explanation the Report provides that black techies undervalue themselves does not seem plausible, especially in the two cities they choose to analyze.
Instead, an alternative explanation that should be explored is that when black engineers ask companies the base salary, recruiters and/or employers themselves tell them an amount lower than white counterparts.
There are several reasons recruiters and HR departments may do this: 1) they truly believe the blacks are less qualified than their white colleagues; 2) they believe the blacks may not be hired at a rate comparable to whites; and/or 3) it is a negotiation ploy to reduce operational costs.
For these and more questions the report findings expose, watch the Yahoo Finance video in which three commentators discuss the results. It makes for embarrassing viewing: many of the questions the reporters ask meet with responses like “I’m not really sure” and “I don’t really know”.
The only thing worse than bad statistical analysis is misleading PR.