How Much You Make Impacts How Much You Support Diversity

By Lydia Dishman for Fast Company

Men who make six figures are more likely to want to work for a company that supports diversity, while high-earning women aren’t so positive.

Does a hefty paycheck make you less likely to support diversity?

CareerLabs, a big data-driven job-search engine, just published a that suggests the two are tied. It reveals that female professionals who made in excess of $75,000 were 70% more likely to answer, “No,” “I don’t know,” or “About the same” in response to the question, “Do you find companies that promote diversity and inclusion to be more appealing to work for?” Women who took home less than $25,000 were 70% more likely to say “yes” to the same question. The study also revealed findings about women on corporate boards and both genders’ sentiments toward promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

CareerLabs analyzed data from Securities and Exchange Commission Form-10K disclosures from 2014-2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and a commissioned survey of 598 Americans between the ages of 18 to 64 conducted during March 2016.

The study took a deeper dive into the deficit of women on executive boards, particularly among the Fortune 50. We know that plenty of research points to the advantage of having gender equity on boards.

Recent findings from institutional investment analysts at MSCI ESG Researchshow that global companies with strong female leadership (that is, if the company’s board has three or more women or if its percentage of women on the board is above its country’s average) generated a Return on Equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without. Yet women only hold 19.2% of S&P 500 board seats in the United States, according to Catalyst.

The CareerLabs findings reveal that there is an age gap, too. While 22% percent of Fortune 50 corporate directorships are held by women, they start later and end earlier than those of their male counterparts. CareerLabs analysis found that men begin serving on these corporate boards in their late twenties, but women don’t start until they are 10 years older. The men will often serve until they are in their 90s, while the women step down at about 80 years of age. This is interesting considering that women, on average, live and work longer than men.

The CareerLabs’ analysis also found that self-reported work-life balance increases by 10% to 18% at companies that have two or more women serving on the board. Van Horne says that more research is required to determine the causality, but it just makes a stronger case for inclusion.

“The trends that we see continue all the way into the top 1,000 companies. While these trends are slowly improving, corporations must do a much better job of ensuring their board of directors reflect the diversity of their consumers,” Anthony Van Horne, founder of CareerLabs, said in a statement. “The lack of inclusion is an unfortunate reality, because we know that one of the most effective paths to promoting lasting diversity and inclusion policies is via corporate board directives,” he said.

Unfortunately, women aren’t always supportive of efforts to drive such inclusion. CareerLabs’s analysis found that men with larger paychecks ($100,000 or more) are more likely to promote diversity and inclusion, while the opposite appears to be true for women in a higher income bracket. Men who made $50,000 or below were most likely to say, “No” or “I don’t know.”

“We recognize this is a controversial finding,” Van Horne tells Fast Company as he attempted to explain why it might be.

Van Horne says that public-sector efforts predating World War II that promoted fair employment practices likely contributed to these changing attitudes among U.S. men. “This is particularly the case among managers who are higher-income earning, where a great deal of the federal and state-mandated diversity and inclusion training is directed,” he points out.

He also cites a growing body of organizational development and psychological research that suggests that as women climb the corporate ladder, there are fewer social support groups and fellow women in managerial roles. “What’s more,” says Van Horne, “the research suggests that absence of support networks play a critical role in shaping the sentiments women develop regarding conforming to (real or perceived) attitudes held by men in managerial positions.”

Other research reported by Fast Company indicated that female managers weren’t agents of change for either promotions or pay parity.

Van Horne concedes that this is complicated and more broadly scaled research is needed. “That said, we’d like to see men across all wages support diversity gender inclusion,” he adds.

First appeared at Fast Company