Pay, Diversity and Retention at The Post
April 13, 2022
We began this project nearly two years ago, as our world, nation and workplace were wrestling with the questions that have come to define our recent history.
What does true fairness look like? Whose voices deserve to be centered? What is the purpose of diversity if it doesn’t come with inclusion and investment? How do we change our systems — and ourselves — to best serve our mission and one another?
We, the members of The Washington Post Guild, grappled with these questions as we personally and professionally navigated news events labeled over and over as unprecedented: a devastating pandemic, an uprising over unjust policing, a presidential election, an insurrection, and the systemic racism and sexism each exposed.
Through it all, most of us were working from home — both isolating us from our critical support networks and giving us the space to process painful realizations about the ways in which our own institution perpetuates these same inequities.
This project is meant to explore them and offer a blueprint for true change.
As a follow-up to our 2019 pay study, we once again examine compensation at The Washington Post by race, gender, age and department. But this report goes a step further, using demographic data provided by the company to explore diversity and retention at the organization.
Our topline findings include:
- While The Post has made some progress closing the pay gap since our last study, women and people of color are still paid less compared with their male and White colleagues. As of 2021, the median salary for Guild-covered women across the company was 13 percent lower than that for Guild-covered men.
- Though the company seems to be making a concerted effort to hire more people of color, it is not retaining them. In 2020 alone, a deeper analysis of the data shows that more than 1 in 3 workers who left the newsroom were Black. Fewer than 1 in 5 of those hired that year were Black.
- The Post has expanded exponentially over the past several years, but its workforce has remained just as White. From 2016 to 2021, Black employees declined as a share of the business side of the company by 8.3 percentage points, and as a share of the newsroom by one percentage point.
This data analysis reveals a truth that’s indisputable: The Washington Post operates with systems that create and perpetuate inequalities.
But the data alone cannot tell us why, how and what we can do to fix it.
Two corresponding testimonial reports unpack the cultural challenges, dating back decades, that have caused Post employees to feel disenfranchised, undervalued and forced to leave. One focuses generally on pay and diversity, and the other outlines in chilling clarity what it is like to be Black at The Post — written and reported by the Guild’s Black Caucus.
To close the report, we offer 13 thoroughly researched recommendations, informed by dozens of conversations with people inside and outside the company. They include ways the company can build on its latest commitments to diversity and inclusion, a host of changes announced in the summer of 2020 amid Guild pressure and implemented by management since. Company-wide, The Post has hired a human resources director of diversity and inclusion and rolled out unconscious bias training for all employees. In the newsroom, new reporting and editing positions were created for coverage of race and identity, including a managing editor for diversity and inclusion. Newsroom leadership, especially the team under our first female executive editor, has continued this work — hiring newsroom job recruiters, expanding the masthead to be more representative, reviving formal mentorship opportunities, establishing new pipelines for internal career growth and prioritizing training on race and mental health.
These are commitments Guild members and staffers of color have been demanding for decades, and we applaud The Post for what it has done so far. We also know this work is just the beginning — and that we cannot fix our problems without understanding the full extent of them.
The topline findings of this project were shared with the company ahead of publication. Members of the Guild met with representatives of Post management and invited management to respond. The company declined to comment on our findings, but did answer several fact-checking inquiries, information that is reflected throughout this report.
Our challenges have clear solutions — but only if our managers, our publisher and our owner choose to continue investing the resources and effort to fix them.
We’re ready and willing and eager to help.
This study was undertaken in three parts:
- The data and graphics team requested and analyzed pay and demographic data for Guild-covered employees between 2016 and 2020, as well as some parts of 2021. The data analysis portion of this study delves deeper into how we analyzed the information we received and its limitations.
- The testimonials team spoke to current and former employees at The Post to understand retention at the company, and why so many employees of color leave. We have kept their identities anonymous to protect them personally and professionally.
- Finally, one team drafted recommendations for how The Post could change, based on our study and research into the industry and what effectively retains employees.
These parts were then put together into this full report and reviewed by Post Guild members.
This study would not have been possible without the incredible and indispensable work of dozens of Guild members. It takes a village to put together a study of this magnitude, and we are immensely grateful to everyone who is a part of ours.
The following members contributed to the 2022 Pay, Diversity and Retention Study:
Karen Attiah, columnist
Lillian Barkley, opinions multiplatform editor
Lateshia Beachum, staff writer
Courtney Beesch, social media editor
Michael Brice-Saddler, staff writer
Beth Butler, staff writer
Nia Decaille, former audience editor
David DeJesus, client solutions client partner
Paulina Firozi, staff writer
Joe Fox, graphics reporter
Daniela Galarza, staff writer
Mina Haq, multiplatform editor
John Harden, data reporter
Sophie Ho, former news analytics editor
Pat Jacob, client solutions account executive
Steven Johnson, projects editor
Sarah Kaplan, staff writer
Marissa Lang, staff writer
Joanne Lee, designer
Alice Li, video journalist
Lauren Lumpkin, staff writer
Angel Mendoza, social media editor
Katie Mettler, staff writer
Justin Moyer, staff writer
Razzan Nakhlawi, researcher
Sophia Nguyen, assistant editor
Sonia Rao, staff writer
Kate Rabinowitz, graphics reporter
Steven Rich, data reporter
Anthony Rivera, multiplatform editor
Samantha Schmidt, staff writer
Matt Schnabel, multiplatform editor
Nora Simon, multiplatform editor
Andrew Ba Tran, data reporter
Claire Tran, social media editor
Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn, audience editor
Jamie Zega, multiplatform editor
These appendices contain the code used to conduct our analysis. You can also find our code on Github.