While the wage gap affects all women, it arguably affects Black women the most since they face race and gender discrimination. Black women, on average, are currently paid 63 cents for every dollar that White men make. That amounts to a loss of $2,009 a month, $24,110 a year, and $964,400 over 40 years for Black women. This stark reality is why Aug. 3 is marked Black Women’s Equal Pay Day every year, which signifies the extra 214 days Black women would need to work each year to catch up to white men’s salaries. Put it this way; Black women will have to work until they are 83-years-old to reach the salaries white men make at age 60.
“I don’t think it’s talked about as much as it should be,” Tiffany Williams, a business and marketing strategist, told AfroTech. “The wage gap is so prominent because there’s a lack of understanding on ways you should negotiate your salary as well as there’s still a lack in employee and training support to help enhance employees’ work style.”
Williams is a mom, wife, and full-time entrepreneur. She has worked in various roles, but she enjoys social media marketing the most. Williams said she liked helping business owners grow their businesses by leveraging social media, but she didn’t always care about company politics.
“Most of all, I felt like I wasn’t being paid what I was worth, so I decided to go out on my own,” she said.
Williams decided to step out on faith and launch Rich Girl Collective, a business education company that teaches entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs how to take what they know and turn it into profitable digital offers that sell on autopilot. The online community does this through various courses, e-books, kits, and workshops. Williams told AfroTech that her company has helped more than 10,000 women in the past seven years start online businesses. For Williams, entrepreneurship is the answer to overcoming the wage gap between Black women and their white male counterparts.
“Unfortunately, I dealt with the wage gap issues at the last company that I was employed at,” Williams said. “That’s one of the main reasons why I’m so passionate about helping women who want to leave their 9-5, so there’s no cap on how much money they want and need to earn.”
There are many reasons why the wage gap persists, and the coronavirus pandemic has made matters worse for Black women. Factors like student loan debt and caregiving duties also exacerbate the wage gap issue, even though Black women are stepping up in the professional world more than other racial groups. More than one in three Black women, 36.8 percent, worked in frontline jobs before the public health crisis, compared to 12.6 percent of white men, the National Women’s Law Center reported.
At the height of the pandemic last April, 16.5 percent of Black women reported that they were unemployed compared to 12.3 percent of white men. This past June, 8.5 percent of Black women reported being unemployed compared to 5.2 percent of white men, the National Women’s Law Center reported. Research supports that Black women are experiencing more extended hardship coming out of this health crisis compared to other racial groups.
“Today, employers are desperately seeking help and throwing people in the fire without properly training them to their policies and procedures,” Williams said. “That allows for a lack of knowledge and a low end to fight for your worth in the long run.”
So, how do we beat the wage gap? It’ll be up to employers to step outside of their comfort zones and invest more in their minority women employees. The National Women’s Law Center suggests bolstering equal pay laws, expanding the availability of affordable childcare, increasing women’s wages in low-paid jobs by raising the minimum wage, and more.
Check out more quick facts on the center’s report here. These suggestions seem fair and straightforward, but there is no telling of how long it will take America to get with the program.
Black women, if you’re thinking about leaving your full-time job to pursue entrepreneurship, here are three reminders from Williams:
- Understand that entrepreneurship is a marathon, sometimes it is a sprint, but it will take time to build a brand.
- Save up at least six to 12 months of expenses before leaving your job.
- Create an action plan of how you plan on running your business.