Inside the world’s first Pay Gap Store: What you pay depends on your race and gender

Offset the pay gap with a mug!

screenshot of Pay Gap Store

Profits from the Pay Gap Store will be donated to a relevant charity.

Screenshot: Pay Gap Store

This story is part of our Salary Series, where we take a deep dive into the world of pay: how it's set, how it's changing and what's next.Read the rest of the series.

Everyone’s heard the statistics: As of 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned. Meanwhile, white men continue to out-earn Black and Hispanic men, as well as all groups of women.

Despite all the advocacy and legislation aimed at addressing it, the gender and racial pay gap in the U.S. persists.

What if we tried to address the gap from a different angle? That’s the premise of a new marketing campaign by HR compliance software company Trusaic, which recently launched what it claims is the world’s first Pay Gap Store.

The concept is simple: What you pay depends on your gender and race. Prices for items in the store are calculated using U.S. census data collected from the 2019 American Community Survey. Trusaic took the difference between the average wage earned by the selected class and the average wage of the highest-paid class, dividing that figure by the highest paid class’ wages. The resulting percentage is what people call the pay gap.

At the Pay Gap Store, that percentage is the discount applied to the items for sale, which include T-shirts, tote bags and mugs. The highest earners — Asian men — pay the most, and the lowest-paid — Hispanic women — pay the least. A T-shirt that would cost an Asian man $34.99 at the store would cost a Hispanic woman $17.14, representing the 51% pay gap between those two groups.

Profits from the Pay Gap Store will be donated to a relevant charity fighting for equal pay, which the company is currently deciding on. Some candidates include the National Women’s Law Center as well as Equal Rights Advocates, which has an Equal Pay Today campaign.

A caveat here is that, legally, Trusaic isn’t allowed to charge people differently based on race and gender, which is why there's a bold disclaimer at the bottom of the site: “Our Pay Gap Store SUGGESTS what a fair price is for you, based on your answers to our questions about your gender and race/ethnicity, but in the end, it’s up to you — and your conscience — whether you pay the higher price suggested for you or the lowest price available, which you can still choose if you prefer.”

This kind of choose-what-you-pay setup is relatively rare in ecommerce, with the most notable example being popular direct-to-consumer brand Everlane, whose annual “Choose What You Pay” sale is part of the retailer’s whole radical supply chain transparency edict.

Matt Gotchy is Trusaic’s VP of Marketing, and he spoke to Protocol about the Pay Gap Store. He compared the idea behind the store to carbon offsets, but rather than offsetting carbon, you’re offsetting the pay gap through your purchase.

Gotchy is not under any illusions. He’s aware that selling merch on an online store is not going to move the needle in any meaningful way when it comes to pay equity. Trusaic hasn’t spent much time or effort marketing the store, with one big recent order consisting of $200 worth of shirts for “several different race and gender combinations.”

True change, in his view, would require legislation, which Trusaic has worked with lobbyists to promote on Capitol Hill. It's a big fan of California’s SB 973, a new state law that requires private employers with 100 or more employees to file an annual report with the EEOC that breaks down pay data by job category, race, sex and ethnicity, as well as Illinois’ SB 1480, which is similar. While the U.S. is inching toward state-by-state decisions on pay transparency, the U.K. has had gender pay-gap reporting requirements for all companies over 250 in headcount since 2017.

As a regulatory-compliance software company, Trusaic has gathered a lot of pay-gap reporting data on its own, including a 2021 analysis of 500 companies in the state of California, which identified a $46 billion annual gender pay gap and $61 billion race/ethnicity annual pay gap for workers across the state.

For companies that are willing (or compelled by law) to put in the work and uncover pay gaps, Gotchy suggested starting with a pay-equity audit. Here’s how to conduct one, according to experts that spoke to Protocol.

“Be proactive,” he said, pointing to safe harbors that certain states have for companies that conduct audits. These would allow damages in the case of employee lawsuits to be more limited than they would be if these companies hadn’t conducted the audits in the first place.

Ultimately, the two instances pay inequity is created occur when people get hired and when they get promoted, Gotchy said, and addressing both sources “makes a real difference in people’s lives.”


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories