Under the Trump Administration these past four years, the bold advances that women have made over the past decades, particularly those of our Black, Indigenous, Women of Color, Latinx, trans, and gender non-conforming relatives, have come under threat of regressing. We know the first 100 days are crucial in setting the tone and establishing priorities for any administration. This is why during this time, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Black Women’s Blueprint will be bringing these voices to the forefront as part of a listening and discussion series, to share the issues that matter most to us – and the issues we need the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize as part of a feminist agenda. As part of this series, we’re pulling together big ideas from these sessions for NOW’s blog Say It Sister! In order to share the changes we need to see and policies we need to fight for all-in-one place. The next step after listening is doing.
In our fifth listening session, we discussed economic disparities, and the very real effect unequal pay has on women’s lives. Advocating for equal pay is crucial: with the COVID-19 pandemic, four times as many women have dropped out of the workforce as men. Our expert panelists were Lily Ledbetter, an equal pay and workplace equality advocate, of the discrimination case that inspired the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2019; Esther Lee, the President, and CEO of Refraction; and Christina Tzintzún Ramirez, founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Jolt, a Texas-based organization that uplifts Latino voices. Listed below is a list of the topics discussed in the session:
- Pay Disparities with Women of Color: Latina women make 55 cents to the white man’s dollar, with indigenous and African American women making just a few cents more. Even in the professional sector, the pay disparities for Latina, indigenous, and African American women remain extremely large. The fight for wage equality, especially with women of color, is about demanding dignity. Despite our willingness to commend the frontline workers, we fail to recognize that many of those workers are immigrants who are still not afforded the full benefits they are owed financially. The most critical and essential work is owed the economic dignities they deserve.
- Underrepresentation of Women in Senior-Level Roles: Only 7% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, in 2021. Despite equality in college education and entry-level positions, women are oftentimes overlooked and dismissed in mid-level and senior-level roles. While women only make up about 25% of the boards of Fortune 500 companies, research shows that companies led by women and people of color actually fare better stocks-wise, performance-wise, and across many metrics.
- The Need to Hold Companies Accountable: We must publicize how these big companies are doing in terms of equal representation: it is important to be transparent with how these companies behave with both pay and treatment of their employees.
- Mobilizing to Ensure the Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act: There is a need to mobilize to ensure the Paycheck Fairness Act’s passage in the Senate. Paycheck fairness is crucial: it affords women and workers of color the protections they need to negotiate for their compensation. We must also encourage women to run for office and lobby for legislation that would support pay equity.
- Encouraging Women to Advocate for Themselves in the Workplace: It is important to conduct a comparison to what other people are making in that field, before even taking a job. So many times, women make less because they fail to negotiate for higher compensation. Men that negotiate more for themselves are culturally seen as knowing their worth, whereas women doing the same thing are perceived as greedy. Knowing the fair market value of your labor and knowing how to advocate for that worth is crucial. Racial and gender equity in pay is further emboldened by the labor movement as well—unions are a valuable resource.
You can watch a recording of the full event here.
Check out future events in this series here.
Ji-Won Ha, Governmental Relations Intern