- Black women are paid on average just 61 cents on every dollar that their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts are paid — and with such a wide and prolonged wage gap, black women would have to work until age 104 in Louisiana, 98 in the District of Columbia and 96 in Utah to earn what a white man earns by age 60, according to a National Women's Law Center (NWLC) report.
- NWLC reported that in 1967, when wage-disparity data was first made available, black women working year round, full-time earned half of what white men earned; by 2017, that pay gap had closed by just 18 cents. The wage gap for black women transcends all age groups, industries, occupations, education levels and birthplaces, and is widest at the onset of retirement. Black women are paid less than their less educated white male counterparts, even when a black woman has a master's degree.
- Lean In reported that black women face far more barriers to advancement than white men and women. Barriers to black women's advancement include: less access to senior management than white men, who have three times the access, and white women, who have double the access; fewer mentorship or sponsorship opportunities; and less access to training. Lean In and McKinsey & Company's Women in the Workplace study found that for every 100 men who are promoted to manager, only 60 black women are similarly promoted. Black women also reported facing more harassment and microaggressions than their white colleagues.
August 22 is Equal Pay Day for black women, the day of the year when black women make the same amount of money made by men the year before. Wages for African-American workers show blatant disparities in a number of studies, especially for black women, but managers may not know about the issue. A 2018 Lean In study showed a 21% gap between black women and white women — but also that half of Americans don't know about the gap between white women and black women. Payscale and the tech recruiting site Hired have observed similar wage disparities for black employees, noting that some gaps had even widened in the tech industry.
LeanIn recommended that employers put processes in place to ensure that employees doing the same work are paid the same wage, make sure the performance review process is unbiased, train employees in how to detect and eliminate bias, vigorously adopt mentorship and sponsorship programs and conduct leadership training. These steps may help challenge the barriers to black women's growth and advancement — and may help employers establish performance management practices that have value for employees at all levels. A Betterworks survey published earlier this year noted that 59% of managers and employees saw little value in current performance management practices at their companies.
Some employers have pivoted toward more pay transparency to uncover these gaps and communicate a commitment to ending them, as well. Doing so could also aid retention, a Mercer trends study found. Employers have lost some control of their comp data thanks to the proliferation of information on the internet, Mercer noted, meaning employees are coming to work armed with their own perceptions of pay that may be starkly different than the reality employers understand.
On top of experiencing pay disparities, African American women reported an increase in harassment at work in another study released in June. The study is based on data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 1997 and 2016. Employers that allow pay disparities and harassment to persist not only defeat their diversity and inclusion initiatives but also leave themselves open to a risk of liability.