August 3rd was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and although it is a US based initiative it’s important for us to raise awareness about the pay gaps that persist for Black women on a global scale. There is very little statistical referencing for what the pay gap is for Black women in the UK but from anecdotal discussions I am certain that it is an issue here and do know that there is an ethnicity and gender pay gap in the UK.
“On average, Black women are currently paid only 63 cents for every dollar paid to a non-Hispanic white man. For full-time working Black women, this amounts to a median wage gap of $2,009 a month, $24,110 a year and $964,400 over a 40-year career, compared to white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center.” – Quote from CNBC.
Some of you may be wondering why it concerns me since I have my own business but even as a service provider, organisations and potential clients have attempted to undercut me, an experience that other Black women in Business have also shared.
Being financially underpaid and undervalued is a reflection of many of the systematic and structural challenges that Black women face and have to overcome on a regular basis. However progress is slow; it is slow because despite the facts society still thinks that this is only a problem for Black women to resolve when in fact this is a problem for everyone to take into consideration. The impact of pay gaps as a whole are vast and cause issues on a generational and economic scale.
One thing I encourage the Black women to do is talk about money with their peers and each other. Many of the anecdotal situations that have been highlighted and resolved in my life came to pass through transparency, real allyship and advocacy. I also encourage others to undertake introspection and think about their own internalised perspectives in relation to how they value and view the labour of Black women. It’s one thing for Black women to know their worth but are others seeing it and respecting it too?
Closing these gaps will take time but it’s necessary to make professional and business spaces fairer for all and whilst we need more than a day to raise awareness Black Women’s Equal pay Day is a good start.