By Janice Gassam Asare
Following the George Floyd protests that started in June of 2020, companies far and wide have been pledging their commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement and sharing their dedication to fighting against racial injustice and inequities. For some organizations, the move may have been more performative than authentic, as anti-racism has now become a hot topic for corporate leadership. Employees are not falling for false promises any longer and are demanding initiatives that drive real change. There have been a number of public displays of allyship, from the construction of Black Lives Matter murals to the tearing down of confederate monuments around the world. Merriam-Webster dictionary even announced recently that the definition of racism was going to be modified to reflect systemic oppression. Changes seem to be rampant but one area that deserves greater consideration are the pervasive inequities that continue to plague Black people in the workplace. It could be argued that one of the most prevalent issues is the pay gap. One report indicates that the racial wealth gap continues to widen and that for Black women, that gap is even wider. August 13th 2020 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, a day created to increase awareness about the lack of pay parity between Black women and their counterparts. Companies that shout from the rooftops that Black Lives Matter and that they care about dismantling oppressive systems and racial injustice must ensure that Black women are being treated fairly and compensated equitably. Below are three ways to increase pay parity for Black women in the workplace.
1. Assess workplace practices. In order to determine whether there are actually pay disparities in your workplace, companies must be frequently assessing employee pay. Some questions to think about include: what methods are in place to determine employee pay? How is employee performance evaluated? Are we paying at market rate? These are important considerations if pay inequities are found. Also utilizing a rubric to evaluate employee job performance, as well as ensuring that management is consistently trained on understanding unconscious biases can be impactful in closing the wage gap for Black women.
2. Protect Black women. When Black women speak out and speak up about injustice and inequities in the workplace there may be number of negative outcomes that follow. They could be tone policed and labeled as the angry black woman, a persistent stereotype that Black women must overcome. Ensure that your workplace provides protection for employees that report pay inequities. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing any concerns or issues by implementing open forums for informal discussions and by enlisting frequent anonymous surveys for employees to complete. Surveys will provide management with a deeper understanding of employee equity perceptions so that interventions can be created for greater equity.
3. Support Black women. Part of closing the pay gap between Black women and their counterparts involves providing Black women with the support they need to thrive in the workplace. Mentorship opportunities are great but also think about how to create opportunities for sponsorship. Sponsorships can be a powerful tool to advance Black women within the organization. Sponsors provide employees with guidance and support and are also advocates for employees and can be instrumental in improvement and growth. Sponsors can also provide assistance around salary negotiations. Providing sponsorship can be instrumental in closing the pay gap experienced by Black women by providing Black women with the supported needed to excel.
If your organization is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and you proclaim that Black lives actually matter to your company, the best way to demonstrate that is by adequately and fairly compensating your Black employees, but particularly, your Black female employees who are, on average, paid less than their white female counterparts.
Originally posted on Forbes