Study Finds Salary History Bans Boost Pay for African-Americans, Women

Gene Naumovsky

As inequalities are analyzed in the workplace, new research suggests that salary history bans may provide some justice.

New research from Boston University says banning salary history questions for job applicants may promote equality in hiring and benefits for African-Americans and women, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Salary history bans restrict an employer’s capacity to question applicants on their past salaries. The research shows that after states put in place salary history bans, earnings for job switchers rose 5 percent more on average than for similar job switchers not able to cite the ban. Out of those receiving benefits, African Americans saw a 13 percent increase in salary. Women also benefited more than the average job switcher, with the ban increasing women’s salaries by 8 percent. With a salary history ban, minorities can avoid future earnings reductions based on previous injustices.

The lead author of the study and economist at Boston University School of Law, James Bessen said, “When economists think about discrimination, they tend not to think of institutional discrimination… we have a situation where employers might not be personally biased, but they are taking actions that result in substantial inequities for discriminated groups.” He added, “What the salary history ban does is it takes away that bargaining advantage.”

Senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, Beth Avery said, “More than paying lip service to the idea of diversity among their staff and employees, corporations can attempt to embrace a culture that understands that what have become standard hiring practices, unfortunately, can lead to less diverse staff.”

Associate professor of economics at Texas A&M University, Ms. Doleac said, “Removing that information in effect broadens the discrimination to the entire group. So now young black men who don’t have a criminal record aren’t getting interviews and aren’t able to get the job because employers aren’t able to distinguish them at first glance from those who have a record.”

Read the full story here.

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