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What Can I Do to Eliminate the Black Women's Pay Gap?

Last week Black women in the US caught up to the 2017 earnings of white men.

Oh, did you think #EqualPayDay was back in April? If so, you might be white, because according to LeanIn research, half of white men think that obstacles to advancement for black women are gone and 45% of hiring managers are unaware that there is a pay gap between Black women and white women. If working an extra 8 months doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, maybe another angle will be more striking: Black women earn 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women.

So, imagine you know a pretty successful white woman who earns $100K, annually. She has worked hard to get where she is, and she’s fighting hard against a glass ceiling. We want to celebrate her success, right? Her Black woman colleague has the same education, experience, and skill set, but has a gaping hole in her household budget, as she's only making $79K. That $21K per year gap is the size of 4 years of college tuition at a state school for her child – she’s going to have to come up with that some other way. Or, in Colorado, that hole in the budget is the size of ¾ of tuition at a quality daycare. Or a mortgage payment.

How do we celebrate that Black woman, working even harder than her white counterpart? For one, it’s time to eradicate ignorance on the subject; 50% of Americans don’t even know that Black and white women have a pay gap between their groups. Next, if you are in a decision-making position in your organization, it’s time to change organization policies to allow transparency about pay and stronger bias controls on the hiring process. If you are a hiring manager, you can educate yourself about the disparities in the US and in your community – in Colorado, you can find more information, here – www.WFCO.org. Then get honest about your own personal bias so you can actively try to set it aside during hiring. You can privately take a bias test, here – implicit.harvard.edu. When you are working on hiring, performance reviews, or career progression, use primers to remind yourself that bias is real and you are working to not engage those biases. Research shows this works. If you don’t have this kind of authority in your organization, you can support pay transparency legislation in Colorado, introduced by State Representative Jessie Danielson (here’s her website – you can reach out and ask how you can help). You can also ask for unconscious bias training at your organization, a pay equity audit, or an IDEA (Inclusiveness, Diversity, Equity, and Access) plan. Ask for or join an employee resource group (ERG) to create power in numbers. For information about how to ask for an ERG, see this getting started guide: here (Human Rights Campaign).

Would you like to share your experience of the #paygap? Feel like I missed the mark based on what you know? Share your perspective in the comments or email me at abcontractor@WorkPlaceEquityPartners.com.

©2018 by Workplace Equity Partners