Why Intel is going to share gender, racial pay data most companies conceal

Intel Corp. says it will publicly release employee pay data, broken down by race and gender later this year. For the first time, every company with more than 100 employees is required to report the same to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but the agency keeps the filings private, unless a company voluntarily discloses it.

"The risk of releasing this information is backlash over the data not being where you want it to be," Julie Ann Overcash, Intel's vice president of human resources and director of compensation and benefits, said by email. "You must be willing to put yourself out there as a company that can withstand criticism to achieve real progress."

In previous years, the EEOC only required companies submit data on the race and gender of their employees. By adding pay, the new disclosures provide a more granular analysis that could reveal pay gaps.

"Our hope is that more than one company will disclose this in the future," said Alison Omens, a managing director at JUST Capital, a fund that pressures companies to disclose data on pay and diversity. If history is any guide, most will keep the data private.

Businesses were supposed to hand over the data by Sept. 30. As of Sept. 25, just over half of the required number of employers had pressed 'Submit,' according to the agency. The next update from the EEOC on company compliance is due Friday.

Full disclosure is "the gold standard," said Omens, but JUST's research found only 32 out of the 1,000 companies they track released their EEOC filings to the public last year. More transparency puts more pressure on companies to fix pay disparities, she said. "The first step is for companies to be leaders and be willing to talk about these issues publicly," Omens said.

Omens hopes that Intel's move will push others to follow, although none of the biggest banks and technology companies that have released the EEOC data in the past has said they will do so this year.

Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. both said they don't have current plans to release the new pay data. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. had no comment. Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Facebook Inc., Twitter, and Airbnb Inc. also wouldn't comment. Apple Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., and Inc. didn't respond to requests for comment.

In recent years, under pressure from investors and regulators to address gender and racial pay gaps, some of the largest tech companies and banks have released diversity statistics and pay gap figures. The data provided to the EEOC gives a much fuller picture.

Intel says it has reached gender pay parity across 107,000 employees in 50 countries globally and parity by race and ethnicity in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Labor, however, alleged the company systemically discriminated against women and minorities in pay. Intel settled those claims last month, agreeing to pay at least $1.5 million adjusting salaries. The company did not admit any wrongdoing as part of that settlement, Intel told Bloomberg.

The EEOC said it probably won't collect this data in the same form after this year, citing employer costs 15 times higher than original estimates. The Trump administration had frozen the program, first started under President Obama, until a federal judge intervened after a lawsuit filed by the National Women's Law Center. The agency has said it will explore other ways to collect and analyze employee pay data.

Even if this is the only year the data is collected, it's a step forward in the push for pay transparency, said Deborah Vagins, senior vice president of public policy and research for the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit organization that promotes pay equity. As companies get used to collecting and disclosing more information, future requirements will face fewer objections, said Vagins, who is also former chief of staff at the EEOC.

"There is discrimination that is intentional, and there is also discrimination that happens because people aren't doing the analysis they need," Vagins said. "You're just as legally responsible for both of those."

-With assistance from Ian King, Gerrit De Vynck and Matt Day.

(c) 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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