Did you know that a Black woman has to work for 565 days to make the same amount a man makes in 365 days? That’s right, a Black woman on average needs to work an extra 8 months & 7 days to equal the average pay a white man earned the year before. That is why #BlackWomensEqualPayDay is August 7 this year. Despite the California Equal Pay Act, that means Black California Women earn 62 cents to the Dollar even after controlling for education, years of experience, and location. (US Census Bureau, 2017) The persistent gender-race wage gap (discriminatory pay and promotion practices) harms not only black women, but the economic well-being of their families and the economy.
As the Golden Globe actress Jessica Chastain (white female) did in tying her salary (gender pay equity – favored nations agreement) for a forthcoming Holiday comedy ﬁlm with that of her co-star Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer (black female); Jessica used her privilege to not only advocate but serve as an ally to ensure Octavia’s salary was equal. It is important to bring awareness that Black women simultaneously experience two marginalized identities – female and black, and face unique barriers and obstacles that are not well understood or acknowledged by others.
While women are becoming more visible at companies & institutions, black women, in particular, are not. For every black woman that rises through the ranks to a position of power, there are too many others who are still struggling. Without a speciﬁc focus on strategies to recruit, hire, promote and RETAIN black women, progress will remain stalled. Internal changes must be made, such as provisions for more full time jobs, and it requires a lot of critical self-reﬂection, but is necessary for an INCLUSIVE workplace. Diversity gets people in the door; inclusion keeps them there. It means incorporating their ideas, feedback, and valuing the voices of black women.
The abundance of words & PR buffer from companies / institutions has no value in the absence of action.
The Data doesn’t lie – Black women see more obstacles to racial equality and barriers in the workplace.
According to a 2016 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, black women have become one of the most educated slices of the American population. Black women are paid less no matter how much education they have. That works out to $840,040 in lost wages by the end of their careers.
Locally, at two of Pasadena’s revered educational institutions, Fuller Seminary and Pasadena City College, it is important to highlight the invisible plight of Black Women. On November 9, 2017, the PCC Courier, published the article PCC perpetuates erasure of black leadership – which highlighted the erasure of black leadership (including black women) lack of promotional opportunities & overall decline in black student/employee representation at PCC.
At Fuller Seminary, during the June 2018 Baccalaureate Commencement, Black women & many diverse allies stood up in powerful silent protest to the #BlackExodus of Fuller faculty, staff, and students. Both Pasadena educational institutions have a strong employment legacy in the Southern California area, and it behooves them and other employers to implement change to recognize the current crisis.
All employers must adequately address the “Invisible” black woman – change must be inclusive, come faster, be tangible, transparent for accountability, and involve immediate action. Unfair pay has prevailed for far too long with no consequence. “Equal pay for equal work. It’s common sense. It’s also overdue. Let’s close the gap and let’s do it now.” – Joe Biden, 2015.
Men, women, of all colors, races and creeds must join forces to realize this is an injustice. As we approach August 7th, talk about it freely, take dedicated action, ask your employers to recognize & address the unequal pay, – it is important for everyone to bring awareness and action for Equal Pay for Black Women