Underpayment and allegations of racism at Coinbase

Underpayment and allegations of racism at Coinbase

A New York Times report reveals serious disparities in pay between female and black employees. It’s the next blunder Coinbase has put its foot in. This time, however, the scandal comes at a very inopportune time, as the startup is in the middle of planning its IPO.

In a recently published article, the New York Times reveals accusations by female and black employees who complain about unfair working conditions at Coinbase. According to the report, women and people of colour are paid less than their male, white colleagues. The report is based on analyses by economist Alexandra Marr, who previously provided analyses for court cases involving wage distortions. Marr examined salary data for 448 employees from 2018, and nine employees who also appeared in the Bitcoin Loophole data validated it using their own figures and those of colleagues they knew.

The analysis at Coinbase found that on average, women were paid $13,000 (8 per cent) less than their male counterparts in comparable job roles and positions. In some cases, there are discrepancies of up to 20 per cent. The analysis roughly distinguished between „manager“, „engineer“ and „non-engineer“. The occupational groups were compared with each other in different hierarchical levels (Level 1 to Level 6). The department investigated at Coinbase had to have at least three female employees. The biggest difference was in the level 1 managers, where female employees had to settle for 20 percent less salary. Level 1 non-engineers had the second largest discrepancy at 18 per cent. Level 3 managers came in third. Male employees there received just over 200,000 US dollars annually, while female colleagues received an annual salary of just under 170,000 US dollars. An inequality of 16 per cent.

In two of the fourteen fields of activity at Coinbase, there was a slight overpayment for female employees. Female Level 1 engineers earned around 7 per cent more than their male colleagues. There was also a two per cent female overpayment at the level 6 manager level.

Black employees paid less – allegations of systematic racism

According to the article, dark-skinned employees were also affected by the unequal pay distribution. 16 black permanent employees appeared in the analysed salary data. They were paid 11,500 US dollars less. That is 7 per cent less than all other employees received. In the process, anonymous reports from black employees also accuse the San Francisco tech startup of systematic racism.

The New York Times reports that one manager made assumptions about a black employee in front of other colleagues about whether he was dealing drugs or carrying a gun. Another dark-skinned employee described a scene from a job interview in which the manager openly told him that he thought black employees were less capable. And another employee reported condescending treatment by her manager towards her and her black colleagues. They were also passed over for promotions in favour of white, less experienced employees.

In a statement, L.J. Brock, Coinbase’s chief people officer, said the company began conducting a comprehensive review of compensation across the company in late 2018.