After accumulating 10 years of data about wages and benefits in local nonprofits, Peggy Outon would like to know "why in the social-justice sector we are seeing larger pay gaps than the one that prompted President Obama to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Act."
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was designed to close the wage gap between men and women working in businesses nationally. While in 2002, women working for Pittsburgh-area nonprofits made 67 cents for every dollar men made. In 2012 they make only 74 cents on the dollar -- an improvement of just seven cents in a decade. Outon, as executive director of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management
at Robert Morris University, which conducts the survey, notes that "there is a true pay equity issue in southwestern Pennsylvania, and it extends not just to the senior management of these organizations but all through the organizations. Over time, the survey has served sort of like a canary in a coalmine."
The Bayer Center is now working with Eden Hall Foundation and Bayer USA Foundation to do deeper research on hundreds of IRS nonprofit forms, checking on the pay gap in all such local organizations, since participation in the survey is voluntary and doesn't cover all groups. Following this research, she reports, "the wage and benefits survey results have been validated."
Their big project is called 74 percent, because women make up nearly 74 percent of the nonprofit workforce. Thus, of 300,000 nonprofit employees, 225,000 are women. "Very few are being paid excessively, so we have concern for men's lives in this as well," Outon says. Organizations must ask themselves, "'Are people being treated fairly in your organization? How do you know you are paying the right salary?' All too often, salary-setting at nonprofits has appeared out of the air."
Other findings of the survey include: Sixty-four percent of nonprofit leaders are women and 36 percent are men. Among total employees, 73 percent are women and 27 percent are men. And the amount of health-care premiums paid by organizations has dropped from 59 percent in 2002 to 37 percent today.
The survey, Outon adds, will also let nonprofits benchmark their leaders' salaries against other groups, as the IRS has been requiring for the past several years.
"I am under no illusion that there is a pot of money out there waiting to rain down on the people who work in the nonprofit sector," she says. However, she concludes, "more equity" is needed among the organizations that most often push for equity in other areas of life.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Peggy Outon, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management