The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

It’s Time to Take Action on Black Representation and Pay Equity in Higher Education

Which of the following statements are true for higher education?

  • Black employees are underrepresented in administrative and faculty positions, the positions with the highest pay.
  • Most Black higher education employees are in staff positions, the positions with the lowest pay and lowest pay equity.
  • When Black employees hold administrative positions, they are paid less relative to their White colleagues.

According to data from CUPA-HR’s 2019-20 surveys,* all of these statements are true. To take a deeper dive into the data, explore CUPA-HR’s newest interactive graphic: The Black and White Higher Education Workforce.

Commit to Take Action

Although some progress has been made in recent years, these inequities persist. Now is the time to take meaningful action to address them. How can institutions that are grappling with staffing decisions and budget cuts tackle this daunting task? By calling out the problem, outlining a plan and moving that plan forward at every opportunity.

  • Share the interactive graphic with your leadership. The findings outlined in this graphic provide a clear picture of where higher education stands with regard to representation and pay equity for Black employees.
  • Assess your institution’s successes and identify areas for improvement. Use DataOnDemand‘s Ethnicity Demographic Reports to benchmark your institution’s representation of and pay equity for Black employees against customized groups of peer or aspirant institutions. Perhaps representation is a bigger issue than pay for your faculty, while pay equity may be a bigger issue for Black employees in staff positions. Once you’ve identified the problem areas, you’re ready to share the results and formulate a plan.
  • Develop a plan. Use CUPA-HR’s DEI Maturity Index and  diversity resources for compensation, recruitment and retention to help develop an actionable plan for improvement. Be sure to establish priorities, develop clear action items, set a timeline and identify benchmarks for measuring success.

The events of recent months have brought a renewed sense of urgency to addressing the inequities in higher education’s workforce and workplace practices. HR plays a vital role in moving the talk to action!

* In 2019-20, 1,270 institutions reported data for more than 780,000 employees in more than 800 positions.