Equal Pay Day for African American Women Came this Month

August 3 was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day for this year: African American women had to work all of 2020 and this far into 2021 to catch up with what White men earned in 2020 alone. On average, African American women make 37% less than White men and 20% less than White women, even when they worked in similar jobs and had similar qualifications. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “if changes in the earnings ratio for Black women and White men continues at the same pace as it has since the mid-1980s, it will take Black women more than another hundred years—until 2133—to reach pay equity with White men.” A report from Lean In says that this inequality is part of a much bigger problem Black women face working at the intersection of sexism and racism

Where does the current administration stand on this issue? In April, following the passing of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the House of Representatives, President Biden said in a statement that “closing the gender pay gap is more than just an economic imperative—it’s a moral imperative as well.” The Act’s purpose was to “amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.” Additionally, Ebony magazine reports that Kalisha Dessources Figures, Special Assistant to the President for Gender Policy, says the White House is taking “a whole of government” approach. This approach includes making transformative investments in robust work-family policies to address women’s economic security. Figures’ role in the Biden administration includes helping to address the fact that Black women lose thousands of dollars each year and hundreds of thousands over a lifetime due to the gender and racial wage gap. 

The inequality in wages is a huge problem for Black women and all women in the workforce. Equal Pay Days for other ethnicities in 2021 include September 8 for Native American women and October 2 for Latinas.  Earlier this year, March 9 was the day for Asian American women, and March 24 was for all women in general. 

What role do employers play in balancing the scales for women’s pay? The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) offers suggestions for employers to help close the wage gap. NCPE says that employers can start by examining their pay practices to determine if they treat all employees equally. They provide a 10-step guide, a Self-Audit, that is designed to help employers analyze pay practices. NCPE contends that “pay equity makes good business sense. It promotes a workforce that feels valued, which helps the bottom line. Today, in our competitive economy, fair pay policies will also help attract the best workers.”