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NYT report reveals pay discrimination within Coinbase

30 Dec 2020 : 12:43
4 min read
  • A report obtained by the New York Times reveals an 8% pay disparity for women and 7% for Black employees.
  • Data assessed the pay of 830 employees at the end of 2018.
  • Coinbase claim to have implemented processes to fall in-line with tech sector, who haven’t got a stellar reputation themselves.

A few months ago, a handful of employees from top cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase raised public issues regarding the company’s salary structure for women and persons of colour versus men. Now, a damning report outlines the true inconsistencies of the firm on this matter, igniting calls for cultural reform in the male-dominated tech sector.


Coinbase Disparity

Recent data obtained by the New York Times – accessing the income of around 830 employees at the end of 2018 – reveals that women employees experienced an 8% disparity in income relative to their male counterparts in the same positions.

The lowest differential between genders came at the company’s lowest rank, where women were paid an abhorrent 20% less.

In only two instances out of a total fourteen did women employees receive higher pay than male employees – in the penultimate lowest category of engineer and in the highest category of Manager.

To make matters worse, this asymmetric culture also impacted Black employees within the firm, who were paid an average of 7% less than other ethnicity employees in similar roles.


Tech Sector Issue  

Multiple companies in the tech sector such as Google and Oracle have received lawsuits in the past from female employees citing pay bias.

Image sharing platform Pinterest recently settled a $22.5 million gender discrimination suit against its former Chief Operating Officer (COO) Françoise Brougher who was unfairly fired for raising concerns of mistreatment.

The graph below is an analysis conducted for the NYT by statistical economist Alexandra Marr. It shows that Coinbase’s income percentage disparity was greater in the time under review (late-2018) than court data revealed in Google’s suits, as well as the industry average.




Coinbase’s Response

 In response to the evidence of discrimination, Coinbase’s chief people officer L.J. Brock commented that the company have begun a full internal investigation into the practises of late-2018 and have since introduced new measures to ensure a fairer working culture.

“As a result of this process, we implemented a new compensation program that brought Coinbase in line with some of the world’s most respected technology companies.

This program included: implementing a robust, industry standard levelling system; implementing non-negotiable, single pay targets for base salary; and awarding equity to all roles and levels.”

Earlier in 2018, CEO Brain Armstrong wrote an extensive piece on Medium with a title at juxtaposition with the company’s true practises: “36 Ways To Hire, Develop, and Retain Great People.”

In the piece, Armstrong draws inspiration from the Silicon Valley workbook, specifically the HR practises adopted by Laszlo Bock during his time at Google.

Point #23 states that a company must “Make it safe for people to speak up and teach them how to go directly to people with issues.” And yet that’s exactly what the company didn’t do.

Let it be clear, Coinbase are certainty not alone in this matter, it is a toxic culture embedded deep within the fabric of the economic and governmental system.

It is certain that there are other companies in the cryptocurrency space who fail to meet the standards of diversification, gender parity and fall short of providing an open, inclusive culture for their employees.

What’s clear is that this example must set precedent for all cryptocurrency firms to investigate their own practises so that they can become champions of inclusion, fairness and unity.

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