Want a raise? Be a white man — Report finds people of color less likely to receive pay increase

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Findings from a private-sector payroll data report by ADP

Asking for a raise isn’t the most comfortable part of the job. But it helps if you’re a white male.

That's according to the new "Raise Anatomy" report from compensation data and software provider PayScale, Inc., which found that people of color are up to 25 percent less likely than white men to receive a raise after asking for one.

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"We believe most employers want a diverse workforce and fair pay for all employees, but our research shows that employees who ask for a raise may be getting different responses based on their race," Payscale vice president Lydia Frank said in a company news release. "When requests and decisions about raises are transparent and rooted in data, employers are more likely to approach each conversation about pay in the same way."

Researchers surveyed more than 160,000 respondents for the report, examining their salary, demographics, job and history of asking for raises.

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Overall, 37 percent of workers have asked for a raise. And 70 percent of surveyed employees who asked for a raise received some pay increase.

Compared to white men, women of color were 19 percent less likely to receive a raise. According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, black and Hispanic women with either full or part-time jobs also typically earn 38 percent less and 46 percent less than white men, respectively.

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Men of color were 25 percent less likely than white men to receive a raise. And among full- and part-time workers in the U.S., black men earned just 75 percent as much as white men, according to the Pew Research Center.

According to the PayScale report, no single gender or racial/ethnic group was more likely to ask for a raise than another group.

When denied raises, the most common rationale from employers deal with budgetary constraints.

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“For people who believe they are facing bias in a raise conversation, I recommend collecting data about the salary benchmarks for similar positions at the organization and beginning a discussion with HR,” Ruchika Tulshyan, author of “The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace,” said in the news release.

Here are some tips from Tulshyan for people of color denied a raise:

  • Request a timeline to have the conversation again if your manager denies your request.
  • Follow up with the denied request with an email to your manager to document the conversation and include specifics.
  • Collect data from HR or trusted colleagues (including those of color, if possible) about salary benchmarks typical for your position at the company.
  • Raise the issue with HR if inexplicable obstacles arise in your requests.
  • If the situation feels unfairly investigated, reach out to an external labor protections agency to further investigate.

The report also examined the best and worst cities for successfully getting a raise. Ogden, Utah; Honolulu; Fresno, California; San Francisco and Long Island, New York all ranked among the top five.

Employees of Stockton, California; Knoxville, Tennessee; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Gary, Indiana, were least likely to receive a raise when they ask for one.

Explore more from PayScale's "Raise Anatomy" report at payscale.com.