(Photo by Flickr user Esther Vargas)

In an email to staff on Thursday, Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker pledged to close the gender and race gaps in newsroom salaries, after union data revealed that white men make significantly more money than everyone else at publications owned by Dow Jones & Co.

“I am personally committed to eliminating it as a matter of urgency,” Baker wrote in the internal email (read the note in its entirety below). “We have the finest journalists in the world and I am anxious to ensure that we reward them properly and equitably.”

Baker’s words echoed a Wednesday memo from Dow Jones chief executive William Lewis, who said he ordered a review of hiring, development and compensation programs at the company, which includes the Journal, MarketWatch.com and Barron’s.

The efforts will begin with “a deep analysis of recruitment and remuneration practices across all segments, roles and regions of our organization,” Lewis wrote. “Improvements will follow.”

What he means by “improvements” has yet to be unveiled. A Wall Street Journal spokesperson said both Lewis and Baker declined further comment.

The conversation follows the release of an analysis by the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees 1096, which found, on average, full-time women at Dow Jones properties make about 87 cents for every dollar paid to full-time men. (The figure covers all Dow Jones workers who are represented by the union — a group of about 1,400 across North America, including writers, copy editors and customer service representatives.)

The gap grows by race: Weekly pay for white women is 24 percent higher than for black women, while weekly pay for white men is 36 percent higher than for black women.

Male reporters at the company, meanwhile, typically make 11 percent more than female reporters. Male "senior special writers," an upper-level distinction, also out-earn their female counterparts by 11 percent. (Check out the rest of the figures here.) 

Tim Martell, IAPE 1096’s executive director, said the union looked at its salary data after some members asked if their pay was fair. They gathered the personnel records and compared the results with a similar undertaking from 1991, he said, which showed female workers took home 76 percent of their male colleagues' earnings.

“We applaud Mr. Lewis for responding to our analysis, not with an attempt to explain away pay gaps with some false rationale, but rather with acknowledgement of a real problem in need of correction,” the union wrote in a statement. “We noted that a similar review of pay data back in 1991 produced alarmingly similar results.”

The Dow Jones disparities mirror the pay gap across America’s newsrooms. A recent Indiana University survey of 1,080 American journalists found that female journalists at newspapers made, on average, $5,000 less than men. The median income for women across all journalism jobs, according to the research, was $44,342, or 83 percent of men’s earnings.

Wall Street Journal reporter Christina Passariello noted on Twitter the people who write about the country’s wage gap are facing one of their own. “Data shows it persists within our ranks too,” she said.

Journalists, in general, appear to be closer to parity than those in the broader workforce. Women who work full time in the United States take home 79 percent of men’s earnings, according to the Census Bureau. Economists ascribe the phenomenon to both career choice (the job, industry, flexibility of schedule) and employer discrimination.

While companies nationwide have vowed for years to support equal pay, few have released salary data by employee characteristic, even if they champion collecting such numbers. Some, like Amazon this week and Intel earlier this year, on the other hand, analyzed employee pay and announced they have no wage disparities.

Even employers who'd rather not examine wage data may have to consider the numbers soon. If a new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proposal is approved April 1, companies with more than 100 workers will have to report to the government what they pay women and minorities compared to white men as early as next year.

Baker's full email:

You will have seen Will Lewis's note yesterday about pay and gender and racial equality at Dow Jones. As he stated, the company is currently conducting a thorough review of the issue and we expect to have more information soon.

For the newsroom, I want to reiterate and amplify the message Will articulated: insofar as there is any pay inequality, or indeed any disparity of remuneration or opportunity that is ascribable to gender or race, I am personally committed to eliminating it as a matter of urgency. We have the finest journalists in the world and I am anxious to ensure that we reward them properly and equitably. I want Dow Jones to be a workplace that attracts and advances the best individuals of all backgrounds and we should not - and I will not - tolerate any conditions or practices that make that unattainable.

More on Wonkblog:

Pay doesn't look the same for men and women at top newspapers 

At this rate, American women won't see equal pay until 2058

Closing the gender wage gap could pull half of working moms out of poverty