Working at a scandal-plagued company costs women more than men, study finds

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It's still unclear whether the thousands of employees Wells Fargo just laid off for creating sham accounts were wholly to blame or just following orders: After all, 5,300 workers is a lot of "bad apples."

What is clear, according to new research, is that company scandals have a lasting effect on the careers of employees — even those who weren't involved.

Simply being associated with Wells Fargo, Enron or Volkswagen or any scandal-plagued company can — apparently — lead to serious salary losses down the line even for those workers not part of the wrongdoing, the Harvard Business Review reported.

RELATED: Gender pay gap across the US:

Gender pay gap state to state ranking
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Gender pay gap state to state ranking

51. Louisiana 

Gender pay gap: 34.7%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

50. Utah 

Gender pay gap: 32.4%


49. Wyoming 

Gender pay gap: 31.2% 

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

48. West Virginia

Gender pay gap: 30%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

47. North Dakota

Gender pay gap: 28.7%

(Tim Evanson/Flickr)

46. Alabama

Gender pay gap: 27.4%

(Danny Hooks / Alamy)

45. Idaho

Gender pay gap: 27.2%

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

44. Oklahoma

Gender pay gap: 26.5%


43. Montana

Gender pay gap: 25.8%

(John Elk III / Alamy)

42. Michigan

Gender pay gap: 25.5%


41. Indiana

Gender pay gap: 24.8%


40. New Hampshire

Gender pay gap: 24.3%


39. South Dakota

Gender pay gap: 23.8%

(SuperStock / Alamy)

38. Mississippi

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Don Smetzer / Alamy)

37. Kansas

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Jim West / Alamy)

36. Washington

Gender pay gap: 23%


35. Iowa

Gender pay gap: 22.7%

(Ellen Isaacs / Alamy) 

34. Missouri

Gender pay gap: 22.6%

(L. Allen Brewer/Flickr)

33. Ohio

Gender pay gap: 22.2%


32. New Mexico

Gender pay gap: 21.9%

(Patrick Ray Dunn / Alamy)

31. Arkansas

Gender pay gap: 21.8%

(Buddy Mays / Alamy)

30. Texas

Gender pay gap: 21.2%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

29.  Maine

Gender pay gap: 21.2%


28. Nebraska

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Ian G Dagnall / Alamy)

27. Wisconsin 

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Jeff Greenberg 5 / Alamy)

26. Illinois

Gender pay gap: 20.9%

(incamerastock / Alamy)

25. Pennsylvania

Gender pay gap: 20.8%


24. Kentucky

Gender pay gap: 20.1%


23. Virginia

Gender pay gap: 19.8%


22. South Carolina

Gender pay gap: 19.8%

(Ellisphotos / Alamy)

21. New Jersey 

Gender pay gap: 19.7%

(Robert Quinlan / Alamy)

20. Alaska

Gender pay gap: 19.2%

(retro traveler/Flickr)

19. Delaware

Gender pay gap: 19.0%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

18. Tennessee

Gender pay gap: 18.5%

(Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits/Flickr)

17. Minnesota

Gender pay gap: 18.4%


16. Rhode Island

Gender pay gap: 18.3%


15. Georgia 

Gender pay gap: 18.2%

(Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy)

14. Colorado 

Gender pay gap: 18.1%

(Jesse Varner/Flickr)

13. Massachusetts

Gender pay gap: 18.0%


12. Oregon

Gender pay gap: 17.8%


11. Connecticut

Gender pay gap: 17.4%


10. Vermont

Gender pay gap: 16.2%


9.  Arizona

Gender pay gap: 15.9%

(Photoshot Holdings Ltd / Alamy)

8. California

Gender pay gap: 15.8%

(Robert Landau / Alamy)

7. North Carolina

Gender pay gap: 15.3%


6. Florida

Gender pay gap: 15.1%

(FL Stock / Alamy)

5. Nevada

Gender pay gap: 14.9%


4. Maryland

Gender pay gap: 14.6%

(tim caynes/Flickr)

3. Hawaii

Gender pay gap: 14.1%

(Mauro Ladu / Alamy)

2. New York

Gender pay gap: 13.2%


1. Washington D.C.

Gender pay gap: 10.4%

(Alexandre Deslongchamps via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico has the smallest gender pay gap, and it benefits women. 

Gender pay gap: -4.6% -- Women earn more than men by a small margin

(Fuse via Getty Images)


The study looked at salary data from U.S. regulators from companies who had been caught misstating earnings, and found that the effects of working at such a company can follow you for years.

The effect was most pronounced in the financial sector, with people from troubled firms earning 10% less at new jobs than their counterparts.

Working at a scandal-plagued company costs women more than men, study finds
If your employer makes it into the news for a bad reason, your pay could get docked whether you're implicated or not.
Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Taking into account raises — and using a $200,000 annual starting salary — the researchers estimated that 10% gap can add up to nearly $540,000 over the course of a two-decade career.

One unfortunate finding from the report is that the scandals appear to do more damage to women's salaries than men's: Female workers receive 7% less on average than they would have if the company weren't on their resume — whereas men get just 3% less.

The researchers pointed to a few possible explanations for the gender imbalance: One was that female executives are rarer, and therefore stand out more, making them a riskier bet if there are blemishes on their resume.

Luckily, a few factors were found to counteract the stigma of working for a scandal-plagued employer.

Workers with Ivy League degrees — or with highly specialized, niche skills — saw less damage to their compensation.

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