Michael Bloomberg claimed during Wednesday night’s contentious Democratic primary debate that women at his company “get paid exactly the same as men.” But data from parts of his massive media empire suggest the opposite.
While Bloomberg L.P. has not publicly released a comprehensive company-wide gender pay study, parts of the ex-mayor’s business media empire have done so. And the results have shown that female employees are not paid the same amount as their male counterparts.
Last year, unionized staffers at Bloomberg BNA (now known as Bloomberg Industry Group), a largely D.C.-based segment of the financial-news company, conducted a pay survey of non-management employees.
The study showed that while women made up 52.7 percent of the BNA workforce, female staffers received 93 percent of the pay of their male counterparts. “Women and people of color face the biggest gaps,” Bloomberg BNA’s union wrote of the findings. One then-employee publicly bashed the results as “cringeworthy.”
On Thursday, the company’s union shared the study on Twitter, posting information that showed that white men earn on average almost $5,500 more than their female counterparts, while the differences were even more pronounced among black and Latino employees.
They weren’t the only part of the company to find significant gaps.
In 2017, Bloomberg released a pay-equity study of its United Kingdom offices following a new law mandating that all businesses with more than 250 employees release information about their gender pay gaps.
The results showed a 20.4 percent average gap in salaries between men and women among U.K. employees, while men made up the overwhelming percentage of top earners at the company. Bloomberg’s release claimed at the time that the main driver of pay disparities was the “gender composition in certain higher paying roles at Bloomberg,” where men occupied more of the high-paying jobs.
The British wing of Bloomberg’s company did very slightly improve its pay gap in the following year, however. The 2018 iteration of its pay survey found that the average salary gap had fallen less than a percentage point to 19.8 percent.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, a Bloomberg company spokesperson said “Bloomberg L.P. pays employees equally for equal work,” and noted that the company regularly reviews salary info for disparities and uses “tools to help managers make compensation decisions that reward performance.”
A separate spokesperson for Bloomberg BNA said the company “is a meritocracy,” but the company takes steps to avoid pay inequities.
“We regularly review the compensation of our employees to ensure there is no unfair treatment in how they are paid,” the spokesperson said. “We also evaluate performance and compensation to make compensation decisions that reward performance. Additionally, for Guild employees, we comply with the provisions relating to compensation in our collective bargaining agreement.”
Since he launched his campaign late last year, Bloomberg’s media outlet has found itself under scrutiny following the company’s decree that limited how its editorial staff could cover the mayor or other Democrats during the primary. The move enraged many of the organization’s reporters and editors, who believed it undermined journalistic credibility and defanged their coverage. The campaign has also continued to poach staffers from the news organization, including many top figures at Bloomberg Opinion.
Bloomberg’s comments during Wednesday’s debates irked U.S. staffers at his company, some of whom relayed to The Daily Beast that they were immediately suspicious of the former mayor’s on-stage claim, which went against the publicly available evidence.
The former mayor found himself on the defensive over a number of claims he made about his time as chief of his financial news company. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) lashed out at Bloomberg over his previously reported crude jokes about women, while nearly every candidate piled on when the ex-mayor refused to say he would release ex-staffers from non-disclosure agreements involving instances of harassment and discrimination.
“What we need to know is exactly what's lurking out there,” Warren said. “He has gotten some number of women—dozens, who knows—to sign non-disclosure agreements for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace.”
“So Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements? So we can hear their side of the story?” the senator asked.