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NY Times report alleges history of pay discrimination at Coinbase

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase may have had a problem with paying its employees fairly based on gender and race.

According to a report from The New York Times journalist Nathaniel Popper, Coinbase paid salaried Black employees nearly 7% less than people in similar positions, based on payroll data from 2018. Across the company, this averaged out to a difference of $11,500. When factoring in the firm’s stock options, the gap between white and Black employees’ compensation at Coinbase was closer to 11%.

According to Cointelegraph, the report also alleges a pay disparity by gender. For instance, male level-one managers at Coinbase earned 20% more than their female peers. Typically, women at the crypto firm were paid 8%, or $13,000, less than their male counterparts in 2018.

Popper wrote:

“The pay disparities at Coinbase appear to be much larger than those in the tech industry as a whole, and at the few other tech companies that have had to release data.”

Coinbase chief people officer L. J. Brock was quick to respond to the allegations. In an internal company email posted to the Coinbase blog today, the firm alleges that it had done “significant work to ensure [Coinbase’s] pay-for-performance philosophy is transparent and fair” since 2018. He stated that “all eligible employees” received at least a 3% increase in compensation in early 2019 and that employees’ pay targets were made transparent later that year. The email also announced that the number of staff at the crypto firm has grown from 830 in 2018 to more than 1,000 in 2020.

The company blog states:

“Coinbase is committed to ruthlessly eliminating bias in all our internal processes. We also recognize that it is best practice to regularly check our work, and while pay equity is critical at any stage of maturation, we believe that we have implemented the framework to ensure we are driving equitable outcomes.” In October, CEO Brian Armstrong said the firm would adopt an “apolitical culture,” offering exit packages to any employee who disagreed with the policy. Armstrong also stated that 60 staff members planned to leave in response to the announcement, nearly 5% of Coinbase’s workforce at the time.

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