April 5, 2023 is Equal Pay Day for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women. This represents how AANHPI women must work for more than 15 months to earn what white, non-Hispanic men earn in just 12 months.
That’s because AANHPI women earn an average of 80 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, when you include all earners. AANHPI women working full-time, year-round fare somewhat better — but still only earn 92 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
The ugly truth about pay inequities for AANHPI women
The wage gap for AANHPI women may be overlooked because it appears to be the least severe on the surface. While the pay gap for full-time workers is just 8% for AANHPI women, it’s 33% for Black women, and 43% for Latina, Native, and Indigenous women. Don’t let the smaller pay gap for AANHPI women fool you — there’s more to the story.
- The wage gap varies widely within the AANHPI community. While Taiwanese women earn $1.08 and Indian women earn $1.07 for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men, Nepalese and Bangladeshi women earn 48 cents. Grouping all AANHPI women together minimizes the wage gap experienced by many women in this community as larger populations of higher-earning ethnic subgroups skew the data. For example, software developer and physician are common jobs for Indian women, who earn a median annual salary that's nearly double what the average Vietnamese woman earns.
- AANHPI women are overrepresented in low-wage roles. The top ten jobs that disproportionately employ AANHPI women pay on average $17,500 less than the top ten jobs for white men. For example, AANHPI women make up 2.8% of the workforce, but 58% of manicurists and pedicurists, 27% of skincare specialists, and 17% of gambling services workers. These are often low-wage, part-time roles with limited opportunities for higher earning potential.
- AANHPI women are underrepresented in leadership positions. AANHPI women hold 6% of individual contributor roles and 5% of manager roles, but only 3% of VP-level and above positions. While AANHPI women’s representation drops at each level of management, white men see increased representation at each job level. They hold 35% of individual contributors roles, 42% of manager roles, and 58% of VP-level and above roles. This lack of representation in leadership roles negatively impacts salaries and lifetime earning potential for AANHPI women.
- AANHPI women earn less than their white male peers in the same roles. In addition to the wage gap brought about by occupational segregation and the opportunity gap, men often outearn AANHPI women in the same roles. For example, AANHPI women earn an average of $17.31 in dental assistant roles, while white, non-Hispanic men earn $24.04 — a 28% pay gap.
Where do we go from here?
Employers can help eliminate the AANHPI women’s wage gap by identifying and addressing their own internal inequities.
- Use your compensation strategy to make fair pay decisions. Build salary ranges and keep them up-to-date with current market data. Then let compa ratios and range penetration guide you when hiring and promoting employees. Don’t allow salary history or even salary expectations to influence your compensation decisions, and limit negotiation to help ensure your compensation strategy is applied consistently.
- Measure pay equity regularly. Even with the best intentions, pay inequities can happen. Measure pay equity at least once or twice a year to find and address discrepancies by gender, race, and intersectionality. This may include hiring an external firm to run a pay equity audit, using compensation management software during your regular review cycle, and tracking key performance indicators over time. Make fair pay adjustments as needed to ensure pay equity.
- Embrace pay transparency. Pay transparency is a great way to improve pay equity within your organization. At a minimum, let your team members know why they earn what they do and what they can do to earn more. Some companies will share an employee’s salary range with them, publicly share salary ranges on job postings, or share every employee’s salary internally or externally. Each of these practices can help open the lines of communication with your team members and hold you more accountable to fair pay.
- Hire and promote AANHPI women. Combat the opportunity gap and occupational segregation by hiring and promoting AANHPI women across your organization. This may require more proactive sourcing, more inclusive mentoring and sponsorship, and more equitable performance management practices. Measure AANHPI representation across departments, job levels, and locations, ideally tracking ethnic subgroups as well so you know where to focus your efforts.
Final thoughts on AANHPI Women's Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day serves as an important reminder of some of the challenges faced by Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women in the workplace. Take the time to reflect on your organization’s internal equity, and how you might improve it for AANHPI women over the next year and beyond. Every step you take has the power to help close the wage gap.