Today We Recognize Black Women’s Equal Pay Day Because Wage Discrimination is Real

Today We Recognize Black Women’s Equal Pay Day Because Wage Discrimination is Real

By now, most of us are aware that women earn about 80 cents to every dollar made by a man. But that commonly quoted stat is misleading. In actuality, that ratio is true for white women. Black women, on the other hand, are paid roughly 63 cents on the dollar earned by a white man. As a result, a black woman will have to work 23 years longer than her male counterpart in order to earn the same salary. And, to make matters worse, there is a striking lack of awareness around the pay gap that black women face. According to research data, one in three Americans is not aware of the pay gap between black women and white men, while half of the country is not aware that black women are paid on average 21% less than white women.

This harsh reality underscores the importance of the recognition of Aug. 7 as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. It’s also important to dispel gender and racial inequality myths, like the argument that the pay gap is caused by black women’s lack of education or choice to accept low-paying jobs. In reality, studies show that black women earn less than white men at every level of education and even when they work in the same occupation.

To raise awareness of the pay gap and its negative effect on black women and families, LeanIn.Org is launching #38PercentCounts to emphasize the fact that black women are paid 38% less than white men. In partnership with Adidas, Lyft, P&G, and Reebok, LeanIn.Org is highlighting the unfairness of this pay gap and the double discrimination that holds black women back.

“The pay gap facing black women is an urgent problem,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org, in a statement. “It has huge financial implications for millions of families. And it signals something deeply wrong in our economy. We need to address the gender and racial inequalities that give rise to this imbalance—and create workplaces where everyone’s labor is valued, everyone is treated with respect, and everyone has an equal shot at success.”

Here are key findings from the 2018 Black Women’s Equal Pay Survey conducted by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey, in partnership with the National Urban League.


  • On average, black women are paid 38% less than white men, which amounts to almost $870,000 lost over the course of a typical career.


  • People are overly optimistic about the state of black women. About half of white men think obstacles to advancement for black women are gone, but only 14% of black women agree.


  • Nearly 70% of people who are not black think that racism, sexism or both are uncommon in their company—yet 64% of black women say they’ve experienced discrimination at work.


  • When people know there’s a pay gap, they think it’s unfair. When presented with information that black women on average are paid 38% less than white men, 72% of Americans think it’s not fair.


  • On average, back women are paid 21% less than white women. Yet 50% of Americans—as well as 45% of hiring managers—think black women and white women are paid equally.


  • 77% of working Americans think no gap exists between black and white women in their own organizations.