Stop performing allyship, ignoring intersectionality, and run us our coins.
“Happy” Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Why the quotes? Because the situation is not a happy one at all.
I read a report by LeanIn.org about “The State of Black Women in Corporate America”, and the outlook, frankly, is bleak. To be honest, as I read it, I felt triggered. Every single statistic, example, and data point correlates to something I have personally experienced. So there’s that. The more I read, the more I remembered not only my own traumatic experiences, but also conversations with my Black (female) relatives, friends, and colleagues:
- The painful confidences shared about life in the trenches of the professional world as a woman of color.
- The shrinking of oneself to try to fit in, and avoid being perceived as different, aggressive, or angry.
- The reassuring each other that “No; it’s not your imagination.”
- The adjusting of each others’ crowns when we give up hope; when we are denied a raise again; when we miss out on the promotion again; when we are denied the job in favor of a less-qualified white candidate again; when our companies, bosses, and peers don’t see us as worthy or qualified, even though in many cases, we’re some of the most qualified people in the room.
- The constant reminding of each other that we really are her, we really are that woman, no matter what beckery we have to deal with; no matter what racism, bullying, and discrimination we are subjected to.
So yes, it’s distressingly true: Black women are underrepresented, underestimated, un-mentored, un-sponsored, and to make matters worse—grossly underpaid. Here’s a high-level snapshot of what we’re dealing with:
- For Black women the average lost income over a lifetime due to the pay gap is $941,60.00.
- On average, Black women in the U.S. are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women.
- Even in the same job, Black women are paid less than white men. For example, Black women sales professionals earn 53% less than white men managers, on average.
- The average Black woman’s net worth is less than 1% of the average white man’s.
- Black mothers are paid 46% less than white fathers.
(Source: “The Gender Pay Gap for Black Women” by LeanIn.org.)
“The pay gap is not about a single paycheck. Over the course of the average Black woman’s career, the lost income adds up to almost a million dollars compared to white men.” —LeanIn.org
In addition to pay disparities, the entire experience of navigating corporate America is hostile and treacherous for Black women:
- Black women are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles.
- Black women are much less likely to be promoted to manager—and their representation dwindles from there.
- Black women are less likely to get the support and access they need to advance.
- Black women receive less support from their managers.
- Black women face more day-to-day discrimination at work.
- Black women experience a wider range of microaggressions.
(Source: “The State of Black Women in Corporate America” by LeanIn.org.)
So that’s the lay of the land for us. Pay. Us. Pay us fairly and equitably. And for heaven’s sake stop preaching to us about how you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. Our bootstraps, if they exist at all, were unravelled before we ever put our boots on in the first place.
Wage justice is racial justice. #payblackwomen
#BlackWomensEqualPay #BlackWomensEqualPayDay #OwnYourPower2020 #BlackWomenCantWait #RunMeMyCoins
Unless otherwise noted, text and images ⒸLisa Hurley/@happyhappyphoenix
Header image Ⓒ LeanIn.org