When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020 and sent millions of Americans home to work, one group in particular thrived; Black women.
Black women who typically work in offices, were suddenly free from microagressions such as hair discrimination and explaining aspects of their culture and life that white co-workers don’t understand (or ever know about) leaving them to focus on their work.
Black workers are enjoying remote work so much that many said they’re worried about the push being made across the U.S. to return to offices. Data backs up the claim as one poll conducted last year showed 97% of Black employees were concerned about returning to work environments.
According to Geter, when corporate executives came to the group amid the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, many had no clue racism was still affecting Black Americans, injustices were still occurring, or that the mental health of Black workers was also being affected.
To combat microaggressions, the BWHI has brought together health professionals, business executives, and community leaders to create a three-part workplace equity initiative. The BWHI launched its pilot program last September.
The initiative is broken down into three parts.
The first part of the initiative is to place employees within a corporate equity index to score companies based on current policies and practices and how they affect employees’ mental health. Part two is developing corporate fairness training specific to each employer in order to shift workplace culture to acknowledge and address how bias is built into the workplace environment. Part three will provide an anti-racism wellness toolkit for Black women including guidance on how to set boundaries at work and use available resources.
Another goal of the BWHI is to get more Black women in positions of leadership. Currently, just two Black women, Roz Brewer from Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett from TIAA, are the only CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Adding more could lead to more support and inclusion for Black women.
Employers must also pay Black women, who currently need an extra 579 days to earn what a white man does in 365 days across industries, equitably. Making things worse is the fact that Black women have the largest student loan burdens.