Today is Black Women's Equal Pay Day. If you're not sure what that means, allow us to fill you in. This means that Black women had to work full-time during all of 2017, and this far into 2018, in order to catch up with what white men earned in total in 2017. In other words, black women earn 38% less than white men.
To put it into perspective, imagine losing 38% of your entire salary or imagine making a purchase online and only receiving 38% of your order once it's delivered. That is the reality that Black women in America face every single day. But it doesn't end there. Black women also take home 21% less than white women in the same respective fields.
The reasons for highlighting this day are endless, but some stand out in particular and are a huge contribution to the problem. A study revealed that one in three Americans are fully unaware of the pay disparity between Black women and white men, and 50% of Americans are unaware that there is an income gap between Black women and white women, including hiring managers. In order to see the changes that must be made, this conversation can't stop anytime soon.
This pay gap exists across all industries, too. It doesn't matter if these women are Black doctors, creatives, educators—you name it. A Black woman still makes 38% less than her white male counterparts working at the same level, and 21% less than white females.
SOME HARD FACTS
- The pay gap starts as early as the age of 16 at a rate of 16% and grows from there.
- More than 80% of Black women are the 'breadwinners' in their household, so this affects them and their families tremendously.
- Providing groceries, a home, paying tuition and more all need to be put into perspective.
- Over the course of a 40-year career, the average Black woman loses more than $867,000 as a result of the wage gap.
- In some states, this disparity is a lot worse. (i.e. in Virginia the total lifetime losses due to the wage gap total to $1,833,800.)
- Almost one-half of white men say that obstacles to advancement between themselves and Black women no longer exist at work.
- Only 14% of Black women agree with that statement.
- There are currently zero Black female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies.
- Ursula Burns left her post as the CEO of Xerox in 2016.
- Black women who have a Master's Degree only make slightly more, approximately less than $2,000 more, than white men with just an Associate's Degree.
WHAT IF BLACK WOMEN WERE PAID FAIRLY?
- If this pay gap were closed, Black women would bring home almost $870,000 more over the course of their career.
- The extra earnings of each Black woman would pay for three years of groceries.
- There would be room for more Black women to purchase homes, earn diplomas, pay off student debt faster, and lead more financially comfortable lives.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
- Legislative action is a start. Representatives need to enforce anti-discrimination laws in the workforce in order to make sure this isn't starting at the top.
- Employers need to act and be aware of their employees receiving fair and equal compensation, especially those at the same level.
- Unionization is crucial.
- Among full-time workers, Black women who are union members make 23% more than Black women who are not union members.
- We, as a society, need to keep the conversation going and talking about this. The numbers show just how unaware plenty of Americans are when it comes to this issue. In order to take any steps forward we must continue to educate those around us.
WHAT OUR AUDIENCE HAD TO SAY
On August 7th, 2018, Create & Cultivate hosted a live Twitter chat for Black Women's Equal Pay Day in partnership with 21 Ninety, Tribe, and blkcreatives. We wanted to get real responses from real Black women who face this pay disparity every day of their careers. Here are some of the most staggering responses we received.
- "I asked for a 20k raise at my last company to bring me up to market rate. I was given 10k & more work. I found another job making 25k more."- Anastasia
- "I also think it's worth noting that the MONEY is NOT the only thing you want to negotiate. If the money isn't where you want it to be, talk about work from home days, additional vacation days, other opportunities for you to feel VALUED!- Erica
- "Some employers really don’t understand how much you may be spending daily just to get to work on time. That’s just transportation costs as an example. Opening up and telling them may open their eyes to bigger problems going on that they may be more willing to help solve."- K. Doug
- "There’s a difference between an unfair offer and a struggle offer. I normally don’t write for free, but for a startup that I believe in? Sure. But people don’t magically start valuing you—especially when you’ve already said they don’t need to."- Dawn
For more tips check out 21 Ninety's FREE guide on negotiating your worth.
By: Andrea Navarro