Black Women’s equal pay-day: We are still being under-paid

Black Women’s equal pay-day this year took place on the 3rd of August. Despite having this day to spread awareness about the pay gap that many black women face, it is still an ongoing concern.

Black Women’s equality pay-day took place on August the 3rd this year. The reasoning behind it is because on average it takes a Black woman, working full-time, all year-round, an extra 8 months to earn what the average white non-Hispanic man makes in a year.

Ronke Lawal is the founder of successful PR firm, Ariatu PR, but she has also experienced organisations and potential clients who have attempted to undercut her. She believes that this is very prominent for other black women in business as well.

Image credit: Nuraan Ackers

Ronke says it is unfair that Black women’s efforts have been under-appreciated time and time again. She said: “It’s frustrating and annoying. We live in a world in which Black women are told to “work twice as hard” and yet we’re basically paid half as much”.

We …need to make a collective effort to seek change and hold organisations accountable’. Ronke Lawal – (Ariatu PR).

Although Black Women’s equal pay-day is an American initiative, it is very relevant to black women across the world. It is also applicable in the UK as highlighted in the latest ethnicity pay gaps report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Black women being under-paid reflects on how society under-values them. Ronke agrees with this and has said:

“Black women’s labour is dishonoured because quite often people think that they have the right to it without paying for it fairly. People feel entitled to Black women’s labour but they don’t think Black women are worthy of more”.

In order to fix this problem, there are many things that need to happen in order to create change. Ronke believes that: “Society upholds some of the individual examples of success to show us what is possible but until structural and institutional changes are made this problem cannot be resolved easily. Black women have to advocate for themselves and also discuss money/research pay levels/fees actively”.

However, Ronke believes it should not just be up to Black women to fix a problem they did not create, she said: “But the organisations that they work for and clients they interact with have to make it safe for Black women to negotiate and discuss pay”.

Although days like Black Women’s equality pay day exist to spread awareness of the disadvantages Black women face constantly, the intentions can be questioned as not much has been done as many Black women are still being under-paid. Therefore, days like this can come off as performative.

Ronke has mixed-feelings about this, she said: “I think they can serve as active reminders of what needs to be done to address change, but unfortunately society gets excited about glamourous news stories about favourite celebs becoming billionaires rather than critical issues like this. So, whilst days like this are important, we also need to make a collective effort to seek change and hold organisations accountable”.

(I originally wrote this article and published it on Powell and Barns media).

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