Apple's attempts shut down employee pay surveys prove they can't be trusted

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Apple has come under fire from staff and the wider tech industry for repeatedly shutting down employee-led pay surveys. Employees created surveys with the hope of better understanding individual pay. Which could create a better understanding ofthe pay discrepancy between men, women and underrepresented minorities. 

The move to shut down such surveys is illegal, as workers under US law have the right to discuss pay. Discussing pay allows workers to gain a better understanding of where they sit in the organisation. Employees can also see if people are earning more than them for performing the same role. 

Apple criticism

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Speaking with The Verge, numerous individuals have criticised Apple's response to the surveys. Labour lawyer Vincent P. White said: “Apple cannot bar its employees from discussing pay equity as it relates to protected classes.” They added: “If they were, they could tell people not to talk about pronouns. The logical outgrowth of that doesn’t even track. I view their effort to shut this down as an act of retaliation.”

Apple has shut down the surveys numerous times. The first instance took place in spring. A survey asked people how they identify themselves in terms of race, ethnicity, gender or disability and their salary information. After 100 responses, Apple’s HR department told the organisers to take it down. The business alleged that the demographic questions included personally identifying information. 

Employees sent out Another pay survey last week. Apple shut it down citing that it was hosted on Apple’s corporate Box account. A member of staff has now started a third pay survey, which they are paying for out of their own money to host externally. 

“This is like a 2021 version of a foreman on the docks telling people they can’t compare their wages way back in the 1800s,” added White. “This isn’t new. It’s just the newest version of ‘you can’t talk about your pay.’”

Read more: Google allegedly wanted to buy Epic Games to stop third-party “contagion”

Results so far

Apple engineer Cher Scarlett createds the latest survey on Typeform: “I was looking at levels.fyi (a website that lets people compare salary data across companies) and noticed a few very low salaries in a certain geographic area that were 10 to 15 percent lower compared to other people on the team.”

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Scarlett’s survey now has close to 500 entries. It asks employees for their salary, level, team, latest RSU grant and a number of other determining factors. “Every time I looked at gender, they were women. I’m not going to say that’s a definitive issue, but it’s a prompt for anyone to ask if this is a widespread problem. We should be able to easily find out whether or not that’s the case so we can know whether people are truly being paid fairly,” commented Scarlett. 

Apple has been open in the UK about its workforce diversity and pay, but it is required to by law. However, the law in America does not require businesses to dislose pay information.

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