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Thursday, 09 August 2018 06:29

Equal Pay for Black Women: It's Time to Close the Wage Gap, Invest in Our Leadership

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August 7 was Black Women's Equal Pay Day, marking the date that a Black woman must work to be paid what a white man was paid last year. In other words, Black women had to work seven additional months to be paid what the typical white man was paid in 2017. When compared to white, non-Latino men, Black women, on average, earn only 63 cents to the dollar. 

To put it plainly, we are making much less for the same contributions to the workforce. 

The wage gap is perpetuated by systematic employment discrimination, lack of pay transparency, a subpar minimum wage, unfair workplace practices, lack of affordable child care and attacks against organized labor. Black women carry the burden of both the gender and race-based bias still experienced in the workplace. 

We are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and underrepresented in high-wage jobs. We make up around 6.2 percent of the overall workforce, but only 2.7 percent of the high-wage category. Regardless of whether we occupy low- or high-wage jobs, we are consistently paid less. 

Instead of confronting the pay gap with tangible solutions, the Trump administration has taken huge steps backward in labor protections. Just last year, the White House revoked an Obama administration equal pay rule that required employers to disclose the amount they pay their workers by employee demographics. Despite her calls for equal pay, Ivanka Trump released a statement, supporting her father's decision to roll back these protections. The unnecessary removal of equal pay protections is an insult to working women everywhere. 

This month, Black women across the country are demanding the pay they earn every day and tangible solutions for addressing the wage gap. We are working to demand action across all levels -- from our employers to our local representatives to the federal government. 

Continue to follow the action using #BlackWomensEqualPay and #demandmore on social media to see examples of how Black women are leading on issues of transparency in the workplace and holding employers accountable for blatant inequity. 

When Black women lead, we disrupt the systematic and institutional oppression of all working women and families. A major barrier to our economic justice is that the fact that women of color are severely underrepresented in leadership positions across the board -- from political offices to government agencies to corporate boardrooms. 

We know that our leadership, rather than just employment and equal pay, is critical to changing systems that reinforce discrimination from the top down, whether it be hiring processes or legislative initiatives. This November, Black women will take their concerns for equal pay to the ballot box. They will cast their votes for candidates who understand that economic disparities cannot be solved without addressing racial and gender inequalities.  

Our lived experiences will inform our voting and protect our rights and dignity in the workplace.