Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. The last time this was updated was Nov. 15 at 2:50p.m.
An internal report obtained by The Flat Hat identifies significant salary discrepancies among the College of William and Mary’s faculty, staff and contracted Sodexo dining hall workers, along the lines of gender, race and ethnicity. According to the report’s executive summary, associate professor of sociology Caroline Hanley authored the report for the Women’s Network, who Provost Peggy Agouris had asked to assess salary equity at the College.
“Among W&M employees, there is evidence that women and workers with Hispanic/Latinx, Black, and Multiracial identities are paid significantly less than their peers within broad job categories, net of experience and operational/classified status,” the report’s executive summary reads. “…. We see large and significant pay gaps by race, ethnicity, and gender among Sodexo employees who work on the W&M campus, and these cannot be explained by having managerial/supervisory job responsibilities. There is also strong evidence of a racial pay inequity: Black or African American and Multiracial Sodexo employees earn significantly less than their peers, net of detailed job category, experience, and gender.”
Hanley confirmed in a written statement to The Flat Hat that she authored the report and sent it to Agouris in May 2021. The Women’s Network did not respond to a request for comment.
The Report’s Findings
The report estimates that on average, female faculty and staff are paid $7,327.09 less annually than male employees. On average, Asian and Pacific Islander American faculty and staff are paid $3,601.45 less annually than white faculty and staff, multiracial faculty and staff are paid $6,024.07 less annually than white faculty and staff, Black faculty and staff are paid $8,879.10 less annually than white faculty and staff, and Hispanic/Latinx faculty and staff are paid $11,308.77 less annually than non-Hispanic/Latinx employees. Faculty and staff did not include contracted Sodexo dining workers.
One section of the report breaks down the average earnings of different identity groups as a percentage of white men’s average earnings in the same job category. According to this section of the report, Black women working in non-managerial jobs at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are paid only 65.47% of what white men working in the same job category are paid. Asian and Pacific Islander American men working in executive or professional positions at VIMS are paid 64.91% of what white men in the same job category earn, while Asian and Pacific Islander American women are paid 57.50% of what their white male colleagues earn, according to the report.
The largest pay discrepancy alleged by the report is among multiracial men working in executive or professional positions at the College’s main campus, who are paid less than half — about 45.36% — of what their white male colleagues earn.
The report also compares the College and Sodexo salaries to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which estimates that a full-time living wage for a single adult living alone in Williamsburg would be $16.33 per hour, or about $32,600 per year. According to the report's findings, the average hourly wage for Sodexo employees at the College falls below a living wage at $15.15 per hour.
Additionally, the report identifies five job categories where some College faculty and staff earn less than a living wage: executive/professional main campus employees, instructional main campus faculty, non-managerial main campus employees, executive/professional VIMS employees and non-managerial VIMS employees.
Administrators did not acknowledge the May 2021 internal salary equity report when asked about pay equity studies at the College. Both Agouris and College spokesperson Suzanne Clavet say that efforts to address pay equity with the College’s University Human Resources are ongoing.
“Faculty and staff are central to William & Mary’s identity, mission and value,” Agouris said in a written statement to the Flat Hat. “With that in mind, University Human Resources partners with executive leadership in on-going efforts to explore and enhance health, welfare and compensation options for faculty and staff across the enterprise.”
Clavet said that the consulting firm Gallagher conducted an external review of employee salaries in 2020, but said that no studies have been conducted since then. It is unclear whether the Provost’s office shared the findings of the May 2021 report with university communications.
“Gallagher, a consulting firm, conducted a general staff compensation study for William & Mary based on market value, position and duties in 2020,” Clavet said in a written statement to the Flat Hat. “No additional studies were conducted in 2021 or 2022.”
The report recommends that Agouris and the administration should share the findings with College employees.
“More work is necessary to communicate the results of this study within the W&M employee community,” the report’s recommendations section reads. “Existing research shows that organizations with transparent evaluation and pay determination practices have lower rates of pay inequity across racial, ethnic, and gender lines.”
The Flat Hat could not find any evidence that the report was ever shared with College faculty and staff. Chancellor professor of physics David Armstrong, who was president of the Faculty Assembly for the 2020-21 academic year, said that he and the rest of the Faculty Assembly were never shown the report.
“There was no report presented to the Assembly on salary equity by the administration during that (very challenging) year,” Armstrong said in a written statement. “I would be interested to read such a report.”
Rowe was asked about a salary equity study at the Oct. 11, 2022 Faculty Assembly meeting, but she did not reference the May 2021 report in her response.
“Supposedly as a result of the Ivy Planning Group report, we had to do a diversity training and there's going to be a salary equity study,” associate professor of English Suzanne Hagedorn said to Rowe at the meeting. “It said that salary equity study was going to be done as a part of Vision 2026. That was in February, it's October now. When is that salary equity study going to happen?”
“So, I've heard these objections and I have answered them,” Rowe said in response to Hagedorn. “We're going to work through, I hope, with faculty assembly, salary equity questions as part of the work that we need to do this year.”
Hagedorn was referring to the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategic Assessment, which was conducted by the Ivy Planning Group in 2021 to identify barriers to eliminating systemic bias at the College. Hagedorn told The Flat Hat in a written statement that she does not feel Rowe addressed her concerns about salary equity at the Oct. 11 meeting.
The revelations in the salary equity report , though now over a year old, come amid increased labor organizing efforts on campus. Sept. 15, Sodexo dining hall workers at the College went public with their plans to unionize to demand better pay and working conditions from Sodexo, with significant community support. The union announced Oct. 24 that Sodexo officially recognized them.
Sept. 26, 214 faculty members sent an open letter to Rowe asking for more transparency and employee participation in administrative decision making following concerns of Vision 2026.
“The faculty have seen our elected representatives marginalized, our perspectives dismissed, and our involvement in university governance largely eliminated,” the authors of the open letter wrote. “We all acknowledge that William & Mary faces significant challenges. If the road ahead is daunting, all of us must work together in ways that move us forward without losing our essential character. We hope you will accept this message as both a challenge and an opportunity to work in common purpose.”
Although the administration has yet to publicize the findings of the May 2021 salary equity report, Hanley said she is hopeful that the College will address the issues raised in it.
“My sense is that this administration knows pay equity is a problem on campus and would like to make progress on the issue,” Hanley said in a written statement to The Flat Hat. “Students may not remember this, but in 2019 President Rowe raised the wages of permanent W&M employees to $12/hr. (Of course, that wage is still well below a living wage and it did not include the contract employees on campus.) And I don’t think the Provost would have requested the 2021 report if she did not want to advance salary equity on campus.”
Agouris said that recent decisions to raise the minimum wage of College employees to $15.50 per hour and increase the salaries of William & Mary police officers are part of the administration’s efforts to address pay equity.
However, the raised minimum wage still falls below the living wage of $16.33 per hour.
“As UHR advances these projects, the university is continuously addressing compensation questions where possible,” Agouris said. “For example, this summer the university budget highlighted our focus on our people through a merit-based salary increase, an increase of our minimum wage to $15.50 per hour, and limited other market adjustments in critical areas that included bringing our police department salaries in line with the market and implementing a career progression plan.”
Update 11/15: Agouris clarified in a written statement to The Flat Hat that this was an independent faculty study and confirmed that she shared the findings with deans and her executive leadership team, but not with the employee community at large.
"The study you reference below and in your article today was an independent faculty study, not an official university one," Agouris wrote. "The work was done for and through the Women’s Network --an informal affinity group of interested employees around women’s issues and topics, in which I participate periodically. In May 2021, when Professor Hanley's work was shared with me, I did share it with the deans and my executive leadership team for their awareness. As the report acknowledges, significant additional data and analysis would be required to understand Professor Hanley’s preliminary assessments, but her work does provide useful context and recommendations on general hiring practices."