The importance of Black Women's Equal Pay Day
While Black Women's Equal Pay Day is celebrated in September, equal pay for Black women is just as important this month as it will be later in the year. In fact, talking about equal pay for Black women is a helpful way to celebrate Black History Month in February and Women's History Month in March. If you want to make a difference in your workplace, understanding the roots of Black Women's Equal Pay Day is crucial.
What is Black Women's Equal Pay Day?
Several Equal Pay Days exist to remind people that the average woman working full time is paid 83% of the pay the average man makes. For Black women, the divide is even larger. Black women are paid just 58 cents for every dollar white men make, according to the American Association of University Women. The National Committee on Pay Equity hopes to raise awareness about this gender- and race-based wage gap. One way to do this is to celebrate Black Women's Equal Pay Day on September 21 and to remember its significance during Black History Month and Women's History Month.
The National Committee on Pay Equity declared the first Equal Pay Day in 1996. The significance of the September 21 date is that it is the approximate day on which a Black woman generally must work into a new year to make the amount of money that a white man would have made by the end of the previous year. This data suggests that the average Black woman must work about 21 months to make what the average white man might make in 12 months, according to Equal Pay Today.
Ways to participate in the discussion about equal pay
Participating in discussions about equal pay in the workplace demonstrates that you support the cause and those who are working to reduce the pay gap. Personally and professionally, you can take certain steps to increase awareness of the need for equal pay. Here are some of the steps you can take to help make a difference:
Follow conversations on social media
You can follow the hashtag #EqualPayDay even if the official holiday is months away. The conversations about the wage gap improve awareness, and an ongoing conversation can help demonstrate the impact of the gap on women and the families they provide for. Social media hashtags allow you to engage with advocates, community members, activists, employers, and more. Together, open and honest discussions about race and gender can take place. Even if you don't participate in these conversations, you may find it helpful to read what others have to say.
Attend events related to closing the wage gap
Throughout the year, you may notice more events related to wage gap discussions. Some organizations may host virtual and in-person events this February and March. These events provide an opportunity for Black women to connect with organizations that can help close the gap. The events also allow others, including employers and hiring managers, to listen. If your community or workplace doesn't have seminars or events, you may consider starting one yourself.
Ask Congress to support equal pay for equal work
One way to take action is to ask Congress to support equal pay legislation. You can email or call your local legislators and ask them to support state and federal laws that will not only improve wage equity but also offer pay transparency. Bills that hold companies accountable by requiring them to provide salary ranges and to make data about wages public may be helpful.
Pay transparency laws can help close the pay gap for Black women by ensuring salaries are not hidden from job candidates and employees. This statement is something many employers agree on. In fact, CareerBuilder found that 82% of employers believe pay transparency should exist in the United States. Supporting candidates who promote pay transparency laws can help even the playing field.
Some laws may seek to ban employees from asking about a candidate's salary history. This legislation would be beneficial for job seekers because it could prevent employers from offering candidates a lower salary based on their previous wage.
Look at your own workplace
Your workplace might benefit from some changes in pay transparency as well. Whether you're a business owner or an employee, you may find it helpful to discuss problems that arise related to the wage gap. Bringing awareness to wage and discrimination issues can create a fair workplace in which Black women feel valued.
If you're trying to find a new job, you may also find it helpful to create a profile on CareerBuilder so employers can find you. Creating a profile will help you filter through jobs to find positions that meet your salary requirements.
Participate in CareerBuilder's 100,000 Careers
CareerBuilder and iHeartRadio's Black Information Network are on a mission to build wealth in the Black community. The 100,000 Careers initiative provides Black Americans with resources needed to secure a career providing stability, important benefits, and a higher income that can grow over time. Use this platform to help advance your career and you can get started with a FREE personalized coaching session.
Factors that contribute to the wage gap
While there is no one cause for the continuing wage gap, several factors contribute to the issue. Addressing some of the societal issues can also bridge the gap. When laws and employers address these issues, more resources can go toward improving pay equality for Black women. Here are some of the issues that play a role in pay inequality for Black women:
Black women are more likely to pay for college with federal student loans than other groups. The racial wealth gap and gender wage gap make it harder for Black women to pay off school loans. This ultimately leads to a strain on economic stability. In some situations, students drop out of school to support themselves, only to struggle to make enough money to pay off school loans without a degree.
Black women are more likely to work in fields like food service, health care assistance, and domestic service, which tend to pay less than other fields. Additionally, Black women are underrepresented in the highest-paying fields, like engineering and technology.
"Bringing awareness to wage and discrimination issues can create a fair workplace in which Black women feel valued."
Full-time jobs are not the only roles in which Black women face a wage gap. When discussing pay equity for Black women, bringing part-time work into the conversation is important. For instance, Black women disproportionately hold jobs with low pay and few benefits. For instance, many part-time jobs offer no sick time or leave. Positions in the service, food processing, domestic, and retail industries are largely left out of legislation to improve wages and protections in the workplace, which means women in these roles may feel forgotten.
In fact, many Black women work several part-time jobs. They may face pay discrimination and low wages in multiple roles, which can make supporting a family even more difficult. On Black Women's Equal Pay Day, many women will be looking for new ways to draw attention to the ongoing issue in part-time and full-time roles.
Racial discrimination still plays a crucial role in the wage gap. For example, some employers may have personal biases when they are filling roles. Some biases are not intentional or may even be unconscious, but they still lead to discrimination.
Black mothers are often the sole or co-breadwinners for their families. For many of these women, the wage gap makes providing for a family much more difficult. Pay equality requires a strategy that addresses all factors involved in the process. Whether it's Black Women's Equal Pay Day, Black and Women's History Months, or any other day of the year, it's important to continue the conversation about pay equality in the workplace.
Related reading: gender and race equality in the workplace
Employers are looking for new ways to promote inclusivity at work.
Transparency laws are more common today. Learn what pay transparency legislation means.
In some roles, benefits are crucial. Learn why benefits can be more important than wages.
The gender gap has persisted for decades. Can we finally eliminate wage disparity?