August 3, 2021
EWNJ Statement on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day
Today, August 3rd, is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. This observance marks the day a Black woman would match what her white male counterpart made in 2020. While the gender pay gap affects all women, Black women earn nearly 25% less than their white peers. COVID-19 exacerbated this gap, forcing millions of Black women out of their jobs because of child and elder care responsibilities, which continue to fall predominantly on their shoulders.
The pandemic has spotlighted the disproportionate lack of support and barriers to advancement that Black women face. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of Black women who are full-time, minimum-wage workers is higher than that of any other racial group. Yet research shows that women and minorities tend to be the first fired and last rehired during an economic downturn, making it even harder for Black women to catch up. Black women are also less likely to be mentored or sponsored in corporate spaces making it much harder for them to advance to senior leadership.
Systemic racism and stereotypes have driven a destructive narrative that Black women’s lower pay levels reflect the value they deliver. This is false. Study after study confirms that the value that Black women deliver to companies far outweighs their compensation levels. The EWNJ “A Seat at the Table” report demonstrates that companies with diverse leadership outperform their competition both financially and operationally. Moreover, investing in a diverse, inclusive workforce positively impacts our economy. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco concluded in a report earlier this year that equalizing employment across the gender and race spectrum would have added almost $500 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2019.
At Executive Women of New Jersey, we advocate for gender equity in the workplace, particularly for Black women and other women of color. We call on New Jersey companies to commemorate Black Women’s Equal Pay Day by committing to genuine pay equity for the Black women in their organizations.
Anna Maria Tejada, President, Executive Women of New Jersey
Barbara E. Kauffman, Immediate Past-President, Executive Women of New Jersey
Michellene Davis, President Emerita, Executive Women of New Jersey