Making Equal Pay Truly Equal

07/28/2017 04:05 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2017

On African-American Women’s Equal Pay Day, and pay day for many of us, we are reminded to continue our fight for equal pay. The challenge African-American women and other women of color face are two-fold: not only do they experience gender pay discrimination but also racial pay discrimination. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, nationally, a woman, on average, is paid 80 cents to the dollar a man is paid. The discrepancy is worse for women of color: an African-American woman on average only makes 63% of that dollar. Here in the Midwest, an African-American woman in Missouri makes 68% to the dollar a man makes, and an African-American woman in Kansas makes only 64%.

Women of all races deserve equal pay for equal work. But while the overall pay gap has narrowed dramatically over the past fifty years, persistent racial disparities have left Black women facing a chasm of wage inequity. How do we solve this problem?

  1. Address the issue head on. Following extensive policy research on equal pay, Women’s Foundation developed the Pay Equity Best Practices Guidelines for employers and has worked to encourage employers in the private and public sector to take these steps to end the gender wage gap.
  2. Lead by example. Companies like State Street have demonstrated a commitment to promoting gender equality. In March of this year, the National Women’s Law Center listed State Street as a leading company for eliminating unconscious bias in salary negotiations, hiring practices and determining promotions.
  3. Spread the word to others. Follow and share the work of Women’s Foundation to stay updated on how to advocate for and implement solution-oriented policies that produce positive results for Missouri and Kansas women.

This matters because those lost pennies add up. Over their lifetimes, the pay gap will rob Black women of millions of dollars in earnings, dollars that could have been used to strengthen their families and grow local economies - paying for things like book bags and baseball gloves, car payments and college tuition. At a time when so much attention is being paid to stagnating wages and the shrinking middle class, eliminating the pay gap would add trillions of dollars to the economy and improve the quality of life for millions of families.

To learn more about the Women’s Foundation’s work for Equal Pay visit our website http://www.womens-foundation.org/equal-pay/

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