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Help Close the Race and Gender Wage Gap: 11 Actions You Can Take

By Alma Rojas and Katie Krumpter, NYLAG Senior Financial Counselors

For over 25 years, Equal Pay Days have highlighted how far into a new year a woman must work on average to earn what a white, non-Hispanic man earned in the previous year. For example, this year, the US’ Black Women’s Equal Pay Day has been calculated to take place on September 21stThis date reflects that on average, a Black woman would have to work 263 extra days to earn what a white, non-Hispanic man earned in 2021 (almost an extra 9 months!).

This pay gap is a result of various factors, some of which are a consequence of historical discrimination and racism experienced by Black women. Structural inequities, such as educational, housing, and employment inequities that have compounded over time, have also exacerbated the pay gap. Furthermore, the recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on many US households has considerably affected existing pay gaps.

Closing the wage gap would help the career trajectories for many Black women, as it would enhance their ability to build generational wealth, their retirement, and their family finances. It would also help the US economy grow. For example, a past study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed that if women’s earnings were equal to their male counterparts, poverty for working women would be reduced by half and would add $512.6 billion to the US economy.

What can you do to help close the gender and race wage gap?

Although the country overall needs systemic changes, we can all take action in our everyday lives to push for this change.

On a personal level, you can:

1. Consider sharing our salaries with your coworkers and others. Talking about how much you earn is a powerful tool to fight pay inequity. This practice helps everyone learn if they are underpaid.

  • Tip: If available, consider joining in collective bargaining efforts (such as those led by unions). These efforts can be helpful in negotiating higher salaries, benefits, and work safety policies for all, leading to overall financial security and increased job satisfaction.

2. Ask for raises and/or consider walking away (if possible) from unequitable employers. You can also find free articles online for tips on navigating the negotiating table.

3. Know your rights: The NYC Commission on Human Rights and the NY State Office of the New York Attorney General can help people who believe they have experienced violations of their workplace

4. Support Black women-owned small businesses: Small, locally-owned businesses often employ members of the community and reinvest in their community. Here is an article on how the pandemic has especially affected black-own businesses.

5. Raise awareness of Equal Pay Days and continue to learn about the racial and gender wage gap.

Within your workplace, you can:

6. Advocate for pay transparency: Companies that disclose salary ranges on job applications can help jobseekers understand their options and create a more qualified applicant pool for the employer.

7. Advocate for inclusive hiring partnerships at all levels.

8. Advocate for higher benefits that can help with the cost of dependent care, retirement savings, health care, etc. 

On a local, state, and national legislative level, you can:

9. Contact your Congress members to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help mitigate sex-based pay discrimination and promote greater transparency and reporting of disparities in wages.

10. Advocate for raising the minimum wages and eliminating the tipped minimum wage, for paid family and medical leave, and for other policies that will help reduce the gender and race wage gap and wealth gap. 

11. Advocate for programs, such as the Biden-Harris Student Loan Relief Plan, which provides relief to student loan borrowers disproportionally impacted by student loan debt.

Still have questions?

NYLAG Financial Counselors help you create a plan to secure a financially stable future. 

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