A report released by a journalist union has highlighted the racial disparities in the New York Times’ performance evaluations for its employees, showing that white staffers have higher chances of receiving top scores than POC staffers.
Published by The NewsGuild on Tuesday, the report analyzed the performance ratings provided by the New York Times to all Guild-represented employees and discovered that POC employees are less likely to receive high scores in their performance ratings at the department level than their white colleagues.
The report, analyzed by journalists from the Times, was reviewed by leading academic economists, statisticians and performance evaluation experts. Although the performance rating system has changed throughout the years, and “the precise nature of the racial disparities has varied somewhat from year to year,” the report still found that the rate of white Guild members receiving higher ratings on average remained consistent.
The NewsGuild reported that in the last three years, the New York Times assessed Guild members based on a six-tier scale: “Doesn’t meet expectation,” “Partially meets expectation,” “Meets all expectations,” “Exceeds various expectations,” “Frequently exceeds expectations” and “Substantially surpasses expectations.”
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With a 95% confidence interval, analysts found that in 2021, Asian staffers at the New York Times were 34.2% less likely to receive a high rating than white employees, while Black staffers were 47.2% less likely and Hispanic employees were 61.2% less likely.
“This is a standard measure of statistical significance and means that we are 95 percent confident that belonging to one of these groups had a negative effect on the chances of being rated highly in 2021,” the report explained.
The NewsGuild pointed out that racial disparities are more prevalent among newer hires at the New York Times than among staffers who have been with the publication for much longer. The journalist union, however, noted that disparities are still evident in all groups and that receiving low ratings directly impacts an employee’s paycheck, as well as potential bonuses and career opportunities.
“Guild members who believed their contributions weren’t fairly rated in the review process have said they feel demoralized and alienated — a pernicious outcome as The Times attempts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce,” the report said.
The New York Times recently began using the rating system to decide how much employees will receive for their yearly bonuses.
The report found that staffers who received the highest rating can receive a 1.9% bonus, while those who were given a “meets expectations” rating can receive a 1.5% bonus. Staffers who were given the two lowest ratings do not get a yearly bonus.
The NewsGuild claimed that for almost two years, management at The New York Times “has denied the discrepancies in the performance ratings.” Although executives reportedly acknowledged that Black employees were underrepresented in company-wide top ratings, they also purportedly stated that they found no problematic discrepancies after assessing their staffers’ scores for each department separately.