First, and most importantly: Black Lives Matter. Period.
There are SO MANY things that need to be worked on, so many worthy causes to donate to, so many injustices that need to be made right, so many systems that need to be dismantled, examined and rebuilt. But the racial wage gap is where I’m going to start.
Education and entrepreneurship happen to be my “wheelhouse” and so this is the place I feel I have the most to give. It’s also the place my “reach/influence” is the most effective because most of my readers are also women in business. Those businesses are going to grow and prosper and at some point the badass entrepreneurs reading this will need to hire a team (YAY!). When that time comes, I hope they remember this…
On average, Black women make 39% less than white men.
On average, Black women make 21% less than white women.
On average. The higher paying the job is, the wider that wage gap becomes.
Closing the wage gap between black and white workers- and in particular, black women– is WAY too often overlooked. It’s just a fact that right now, it’s much more difficult to get access to higher education and job opportunities as a black person in America.
Right now, I’m going to talk about some actions you can take to make sure that wage gap closes.
1) Hire black women. DUH.
Seems like a no brainer, right? But here’s the thing: when looking for job applicants, we tend to value personal recommendations over everything else. Often we are only exposed to “connections” and “acquaintances” and “friends of friends” from within our own bubble (HI! ME INCLUDED! CALLING MYSELF OUT!).
Do the work! Widen your scope! Hold actual open job interviews. Seek out, amplify, and hire Black job applicants.
By the way, this goes beyond corporate America. Have a job you need a freelancer for? Looking for a service provider? Wanting to take a class? Buying a product? Subscribing to an email list? Check and see how many people you hire/give money to on a daily basis look like you.
2) Give Black team members a raise.
Black women ask for raises and promotions at a rate about equal to white women, but they get worse results. Also, lower earnings for Black women deeply affects the entire Black community. According to a recent study, more than 80% of black mothers are the main breadwinner for their family. That negatively impacts her ability to buy groceries, pay for childcare so she can work, and invest in higher education for any children.
Wanna close the pay gap? GIVE BLACK WORKERS A RAISE. If you’re not the person in a position to give the raise but you happen to be white, share your income with black colleagues and make sure they’re being paid an equal/fair wage.
3) Educate yourself (& your team) about “inclusion vs. diversity”
This one is gonna take a teensy bit more brainpower to understand, but I know you can do it. You’ve probably heard the term “diversity” and “diversity initiatives” at your office or job at some point. But the real change goes beyond simply hiring Black people and paying them a fair wage.
In reading and researching more about this topic of the racial wage gap, one of the topics that kept coming up was this idea of “diversity” versus “inclusion” and I gotta say it REALLY made me examine my own behavior.
As diversity advocate Vernā Meyers puts it,
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
OK, so in the context of the workplace, “diversity” means visual representation. You can look at the team assembled and see that there are black women- or in a wider context, people of color- present in the room.
Inclusion on the other hand is a bit more intangible, but also more important. Inclusion means that those diverse team members are actively included; ideas are heard, innovation is fostered, and leadership is encouraged. In the most basic terms, Inclusion is making people feel welcome.
Also, hi, sorry- please don’t assume you’re automatically being “inclusive” just because you’re nice (HI! ME AGAIN! CALLING MYSELF OUT!). Just because you’re a kind person who doesn’t think of themselves as racist, doesn’t mean you don’t have prejudices and blind spots. We ALL have blind spots. No one is perfect. This is about being more aware of your patterns, thoughts, and practices, and if you see something you don’t like- Good news! You’re the CEO of your life! You can change it!
Really sit with this (I know I am): Where can you be more inclusive of Black people & Black women in your everyday life?
Resources & Places to Donate
Black Girl Ventures: An organization providing access to funding, opportunity & education to black women founders & entrepreneurs. Scholarships, trainings, memberships, and so much more is available here! Please consider donating, or becoming a partner or mentor for this amazing company!
The Black Career Women’s Network: A national career development platform dedicated to helping black women foster and fund their career growth. They provide access to community mentors as well as curated career resources & access to grant money.
List: Top 7 Grants or Free Money for Black Women Entrepreneurs: A list from Black Enterprise of the top 7 grants or free money available for black women entrepreneurs
The Minority Business Development Agency: An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that helps minorities & women in start and grow their businesses. On the MBDA website, you can research grants and access links to state agencies that “work with women-owned businesses for funding opportunities”.
List: Top 10 Organizations that Help Black Women Progress in America: A comprehensive list compiled by “Grants For Women” of 10 organizations doing amazing work to progress black women in the workforce.
Ready to start spending some moolah RIGHT NOW? Here’s a list of black-owned businesses in everything from beauty to home goods to fashion & more!
I want to stress that this is just the beginning of the conversation. These initial resources are a great place to start, but I’m committed to continuing to research this issue and regularly updating you guys on ways we can help close the wage gap for black women in this country & beyond!
LET’S GET STARTED, YES?!