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Archived: WSJ Staff Criticizes Lack of Diversity in its Newsroom

Staff members at The Wall Street Journal have written a letter to their management team regarding the publication’s astounding lack of diversity, Business Insider reported on Tuesday.

“Diversity in the newsroom is good for business and good for our coverage,” staffers wrote to Gerard Butler, editor in chief, and Matt Murray, Butler’s deputy. A source reported that 160 team members signed the letter, which was supposed to be delivered on Tuesday, but Business Insider could not confirm that number.

The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, when expressed as a stock index, outperform the rest of the market, suggesting that good judgment in one area permeates throughout an organization.

WSJ employees also address “underlying issues regarding pay equity,” which were brought to light last year by the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees (IAPE). The IAPE found that female WSJ employees were only paid 86.8 percent of what their male counterparts received. Disparities exist among different racial groups as well:

All Titles — Average Salary Rankings:

White Male — $1,773.05 per week

Asian Male — $1,748.52 per week

Asian Female — $1,617.70 per week

White Female — $1,497.34 per week

Other Female — $1,404.12 per week

Hispanic/Latino Male — $1,320.68 per week

Other Male — $1,294.68 per week

Black/African-American Male — $1,227.88 per week

Hispanic/Latino Female — $1,176.51 per week

Black/African-American Female — $1,141.31 per week

Source: Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees (IAPE)

At the time William Lewis, CEO of Dow Jones (WSJ’s parent company), called the results “troubling” and described them as “a matter of urgency.”

Meanwhile, Dow Jones’ own leadership team boasts almost zero diversity and consists of just 31.8 percent women.

And the issue was seemingly not resolved, as the letter leaked this week requests “a more comprehensive, intentional and transparent approach to improving” diversity.

“There are troubling signs in other parts of the paper as well,” the letter continues. “For example, over the past six months, the high-profile Saturday Review cover piece was written by a woman just once. And following the most recent round of layoffs and buyouts, just 18% of our union-represented writers, editors, visual journalists and reporters are people of color.”

The WSJ is hardly alone when it comes to its diversity problem, though, with leadership at many news and media outlets having little to show when it comes to diversity. The New York Times’ executive team is less than a quarter female and almost completely white. Gannett’s leadership is just 38.5 percent female and does not appear racially diverse. Fox News’ leaders are only one-third female and completely white. Politico’s leadership team appears more racially diverse in comparison to other news outlets but is only 31.6 percent female. CNN’s leadership fares slightly better when it comes to gender — having 40 percent women — but does not appear racially diverse. The Baltimore Sun’s leaders are 22 percent female.

None of these companies have ever competed for a spot on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

According to the American Society of News Editors, when it comes to newsroom employees, they are 4.74 percent Black, 4.19 percent Hispanic, 2.8 percent Asian and less than one percent Native American as well as multiracial. Women consist of just 35.3 percent of newsroom supervisors.

Meanwhile, women study journalism at significantly higher rates than men, data shows. In 2013 women comprised of 63.6 percent of enrollees in bachelor’s degree programs for journalism and mass communications. The percent is even higher for master’s degrees: women consisted of 67.3 percent of enrollees.

And while women are finding jobs after graduation — 70.4 percent with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and mass communications found a job, compared to 65.9 percent of men — they evidently are not moving up in the pipeline. Meanwhile, minorities are just not being hired in the first place, according to data. Just 55.1 percent of minorities with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and mass communication received full-time employment, compared to 72.8 percent of non-minorities.

Data shows that women in leadership roles leads to a better bottom line. A comprehensive global study that researched nearly 22,000 companies in 91 countries found businesses that include women in management experience more economic growth and are more profitable than companies where women are not in executive positions.

The study, “Is Gender Diversity Profitable Evidence From a Global Study,” was conducted by The Peterson Institute for International Economics in conjunction with EY (No. 3 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity) and concluded that a company with even just 30 percent female leaders can contribute an additional 6 percentage points toward its net margin.

To tackle their diversity problem, WSJ staffers’ suggestions include ensuring more diverse candidate slates during the hiring process, more workplace flexibility and greater transparency in regard to salaries.

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