Lyft pledges equal pay for women, men, people of color

The ride-hailing company commits to a third-party audit of employees to ensure it doesn't have pay discrepancies based on race or gender. Uber has also promised pay equity.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
3 min read

Lyft promises pay equity for all employees.


Lyft is following the lead of some other tech giants in promising equal pay for equal work.

The ride-hailing service said Tuesday it's committing to an annual third-party audit to make sure everyone at the company earns the same amount as their peers and there aren't any discrepancies based on gender or race.

"As Equal Pay Day approaches, we believe it shouldn't take an additional four months, seven months, or 10 months for someone to earn what their counterparts do in a year just because of gender or race," Lyft wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

While woman make up nearly half of the US workforce, they earn less than men for the same jobs, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. On average, women make 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, creating a gender wage gap of 20 percent. People of color are also underrepresented in terms of pay.

Over the last few years, Silicon Valley companies have been criticized for their lack of diversity and pay equity. Dozens of news stories have called attention to the tech world's largely white male staffs and gender pay gaps. In response, some companies like Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, have promised equal pay. 

Last July, Uber also said it adjusted staff salaries to ensure pay equity between women, men and all racial groups.

"To date, our compensation approach has been similar to that of other pre-IPO companies, but as we've grown it's become clear that we need to adjust our philosophy and continue to increase transparency going forward," an Uber spokesman said. "Thanks to feedback from our employees, we're making the right investments to set ourselves up for the future."

Lyft, for the first time, hired a third-party company to audit its employees' pay last year. It found pay discrepancies in less than 1 percent of its employees, the company said, which included women, men and people of different racial backgrounds. Lyft adjusted the pay for those staff. It'll do the same this year if the new audit finds any more variances.

Over the last year, Lyft has made an effort to create a more equitable workplace. It hired a chief people officer and vice president of talent and inclusion to help make the company more diverse and welcoming. It's additionally worked on expanding family and medical leave for working parents.

Lyft released its first diversity report in June, and overall, the company's gender diversity wasn't too shabby. But the numbers for women dropped with leadership and tech roles -- as is the pattern with most Silicon Valley companies. Forty-two percent of Lyft employees identified as women, but that number fell to 36 percent in leadership roles and only 18 percent in tech.

Lyft's ethnic makeup was overwhelmingly white and Asian. Overall, the ride-hailing company reported that 63 percent of its employees were white, 19 percent Asian, 7 percent Latino, 6 percent black and 1 percent Native American. Getting into leadership and tech roles, those numbers also drop.

Drivers aren't included in Lyft's diversity statistics because they're considered independent contractors, rather than employees. That means they also won't factor into the audit Lyft does for equal pay.

First published March 27, 12:00 p.m. PT. 
Updates, 2:46 p.m.: Clarifies that the audit is to ensure no pay discrepancies based on race or gender; March 29 at 12:26 p.m.: Adds comment from Uber spokesman.

Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."

Logging Out: Welcome to the crossroads of online life and the afterlife.