Thursday, August 22 2019, was Black Women Equal Pay Day! A day that is near and dear to me because no matter how hard I work, or the accomplishments I achieve, I am part of the statistic of being unpaid. Just because the day has pass we as an industry need to continuously do the work. So I put together a list of ways you can take action help close the gap at your job.
- Think sponsorship over mentorship. While mentorship is great... “[Sponsorship] has to do with fighting to get somebody a promotion, mentioning their name in an appointments meeting, and making sure that the person that you’re sponsoring gets the next assignment, and gets visible and developmental assignments”. Read more on how to be a sponsor by Lara Hogan
- When hiring black females, take a second look at what position they are coming in at. It’s easier to open lower title positions to help with diversity initiatives. And this is the first way the pay gap is created. Use black females previous work experiences, accomplishments and awards as a measurement, not your feelings. This not only helps reduce unconscious bias but provides opportunity and visibility. When interviewing ask the hiring manager to see their resume or why they “think” that the position is right for them. And if it doesn’t align, speak up.
- Be an ally. Listen to marginalized groups and believe them.
- Help remove diversity debt. When black female employees join a company they are usually forced into the de facto role of “diversity ambassador”. This takes away time from us building our technical skills. And this role is usually on top of the full time work. Please do not rely on on someone else to create a more inclusive workspace. You can do it to by making diversity post a normal occurrence in your work environment. For some, talking about race can be hard, but realize this is the world we live. Do not be silent like the employees in this google memo when it comes to issues facing the black community.
- Advocate to combine disaggregate pay data by gender and race at your company. Well its important to see the disparities amongst men and women, and the disparities amongst races. Companies also need to have data that show both race and gender combined. I can relate to both categories, but I do not know the difference between being a women and being black. I am a black women. These categories are inseparable to me. Payscale latest report shows combined data and you can see how black women start at a disadvantage and grows greatly as we progress in our careers.
- Bring attention to the pay gap. Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, and network about it. Help increase education and awareness about economic discrimination. Have a conversation about salary amongst your coworkers. In New York State there are laws that employers may not prohibit employees from “inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing” the wages of that employee or another employee. Please check your state laws and start the conversation.
Always remember, just because your company has a diversity and inclusion initiative, doesn't mean everything is roses. In order for change to happen, it takes your help. If you are interested in knowing how you can be more involved more feel free to reach out and/or remove my diversity debt by read these two articles: