Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. The date is significant, as it is marks how far into 2018 a black woman needs to work, in order to make as much money as a white male in 2017.
As a black woman who is the mother of two daughters, I can’t help but wonder – where will we be 100 years from now?
My mission, through the career development and coaching I’m immersed in, is to help black women accelerate their opportunities and their earning capacity.
But the road is long. Despite the fact women represent almost half of the workforce, we consistently earn significantly less than men in almost every occupation. For women of colour, the gender pay gap is even more terrifying.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the gender pay gap for all workers, full and part-time, is 18.4%. For women in Britain, the full-time pay gap is 14.1%. In direct comparison, that full-time pay gap for Black African women is 19.6%.
In the United States, women who work full-time are typically paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. In direct comparison, black women are paid just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
That means a black woman would have to work for 20 months in total, to make what a white man earns in just one year. Which brings us to where we are today, on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.
So, why is this happening?
Even though black women are going on to higher education in greater and greater numbers, after we enter the workforce our momentum seems to grind to a halt.
Last September, a study published by The Guardian and Operation Black Vote took a comprehensive look at the representation of ethnic minorities in positions of power. It was truly heartbreaking reading.
When examining the FTSE 100, the study found not a single one is led by a woman from a minority background. When you cross the Atlantic, just 32 of the CEOs from the Fortune 500 companies are female. Only three are black. Not one is a black woman.
Despite decades of anti-discrimination laws here in the UK, black, Asian and minority ethnic women represent just 0.7% of the nation’s top positions. In the United States, black women account for just 1.5 percent of senior-level executive positions in the private sector.
So, what does the future hold?
It has been projected that it will take black women until the year 2124 to achieve equal pay to men. That’s 106 years away.
My sincerest hope for the next century, is for women to no longer be shortchanged and that women of all races will earn what we deserve.
About the author
Octavia Goredema MBE
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