How much do you need to make to feel satisfied? Here’s what underrepresented employees say


By Shalene Gupta


Employers are working to strengthen their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but what does it actually take for employees to feel like they are surviving and thriving?

How much do you need to make to feel satisfied? Here’s what underrepresented employees say

For starters, pay them at least $34.10 an hour.

Grads of Life, a consultancy that works with companies to create more social equity in the workforce, conducted a study of about 2,000 graduates of a workforce development program, 85% of whom identified as nonwhite. The report didn’t get into the nitty-gritty of microaggressions or employer culture, but it did a deep dive into the importance of wages for overall career and life satisfaction. Here are some of the key findings:

    White respondents were more likely to receive a promotion and raise. Although white respondents made up only 5% of the survey’s sample, 47% of white respondents reported receiving a promotion compared to the survey’s average of 40%. Moreover, 44% of white respondents received a raise, compared to 26% of nonwhite respondents.

    A higher wage was associated with more life satisfaction. On average, respondents who received at least $34.10 an hour (about $68,000 a year with a 2,000-hour work year) reported that they were satisfied with their career and thriving in their lives.

    However, financial well-being differed by geographic region. In order to be comfortable, employees needed $44.70 an hour ($89,400) on the West Coast, $36.60 an hour ($73,200) in the Southeast, and $37.70 an hour ($75,400) in the Northeast. 

These findings may sound obvious, but we live in a world where Black employees still earn on average 76 cents to every dollar a white employee makes. It bears repeating: It’s important to pay your marginalized employees.


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