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Today is Equal Pay Day for Black Women

Jen Dewar
Aug 22, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Today is Equal Pay Day for Black women. That means the average Black woman has to work all of last year, plus the past 7 months and 22 days, to earn what a White man earned last year.

Let that sink in.

The average Black woman needs to work nearly 20 months to earn what a White man earned in only 12. That’s because the average Black woman earns 61 cents for every dollar a White man earns. And today isn’t even the last equal pay day of the year. Native American women must work until September 23 and Latinas must work until November 20 to earn what White men earned last year.

When are the other Equal Pay Days?

Women’s Equal Pay Day was April 2, 2019. Women earned 80 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2018, so they had to work approximately 15 months to earn what a man earned in 12 months. The average mother earned 69 cents for every dollar the average father earned, marking the Mom’s Equal Pay Day for June 10, 2019.

The gender wage gap varies widely by ethnicity. Compared to White, non-Hispanic men:

  • Asian-American Women earn 85 cents on the dollar. Their Equal Pay Day is March 5, 2019.
  • White Women earn 77 cents on the dollar. Their Equal Pay Day is April 19, 2019.
  • African-American/Black Women earn 61 cents on the dollar. Their Equal Pay Day is August 22, 2019.
  • Native American Women earn 58 cents on the dollar. Their Equal Pay Day is September 23, 2019.
  • Latinas earn 53 cents on the dollar. Their Equal Pay Day is November 20, 2019.

What are some ways we can improve pay equity?

There’s no silver bullet to closing the gender pay gap. Instead, there are likely many things you can do to improve pay equity in your organization and beyond. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Conduct a pay equity analysis: The first step toward pay equity is to be honest about where your company stands. See how different ethnic and gender groups compare to the average, and to one another. Drill down to see how this compares for people in the same department, and in the same roles. Rather than justifying discrepancies by seniority, experience, and education, consider the responsibilities and impact each employee has and whether their compensation reflects that. If not, make a plan for strategic adjustments and communicate it with employees so they know what to expect.
  • Diversify your recruiting funnel: The controlled pay gap—which takes into account things like role, experience, and industry—is much narrower than the uncontrolled gap. Women earn 98 percent of what a man earns when they have the same job and qualifications, and the only difference is their gender. There are clearly biases at play, but this tells us something else: that the wage gap is largely due to women working in lower-paid roles and industries. For instance, education is a female-dominated industry, and tech is male-dominated. A Hired report revealed that tech companies interview only men for a given role 41 percent of the time. A diverse recruiting funnel in traditionally male-dominated roles and industries can allow more women to be considered and hired. This should include internal candidates, who can be developed and promoted into other roles. As women break into traditionally male-dominated roles and industries, and move up career ladders, organizations can make strides toward closing the wage gap.
  • Build an inclusive company culture: A diverse recruiting funnel can become homogenous very quickly if a candidate feels they may be tokenized or treated unfairly if hired. And employees from underrepresented groups will likely leave if they don’t feel a sense of belonging at your organization. An inclusive company culture is crucial for attracting and retaining diverse talent in all roles and levels, so you can close your wage gap. It can be helpful to conduct surveys and tap into employee resource groups to learn ways to improve your diversity and inclusion efforts. This should be considered an ongoing initiative, as the work is never truly done.
  • Build a formal compensation strategy: First, don’t use salary history to determine an offer, even if your goal is to ensure you’re offering a sizeable increase. This only perpetuates the pay gap as underrepresented groups continue to earn less than their male colleagues. Second, be mindful during salary negotiations. Women and men both negotiate, but 7 percent more men are successful. Create a formal compensation strategy with job grades with corresponding salary bands to make fair, competitive, and consistent offers.

Final thoughts

Women shouldn’t have to work 15 months to earn what men earned in 12 months. And Black women shouldn’t have to work nearly 20 months to earn what White men earned in 12 months. At the rate we’re going, the gender pay gap won’t close until 2059. You can right these wrongs at your own organization by committing to pay equity and doing the work to close wage gaps. In doing so, you show people their true value, and raise the bar for all organizations in our competitive talent market.


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Learn how Compaas can help you uncover pay inequities, so you can do your part to close the wage gap.

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