How to Narrow the 37% Pay Gap Between Black and White Women

How to Narrow the 37% Pay Gap Between Black and White Women

First of all, that’s huge! A 37% pay gap? Did you know that? Because, if you didn’t, now you do.

Black Enterprise chatted over the phone with Jasmine Gill of Gyal’s Network, an online platform that connects diverse women and confronts intersectional issues, which impacts them on a larger scale. They hosted a recent seminar by executive career consultant, Michelle Kem, on salary negotiation. So, we thought that it was particularly important to share some tips that can get you on track toward generating a healthy salary.

The Statistics


Gill shared the current data with us on the sad statistics. Women in the United States earn just 79 cents for every dollar men make. Unfortunately, what many don’t realize is that those 79 cents represent all women in the United States. When broken down by race, black women only earn just 63 cents to that dollar.

According to Gill, a recent analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) states that a black woman starting her career today will lose an average of $877,480 over her 40-year career, relative to a white man. We know that there are several factors that drive the gender wage gap, but we asked Gill what can we do to make change.

Creating a Culture of Transparency


Since 1963, the Equal Pay Act has stated that men and women doing the same work have to be paid equally. Unfortunately, with this legislation, the onus is put on women to take action. This can be an uphill battle, especially when salary transparency is not required.

In an effort to enforce the Equal Pay Act, the Obama administration’s new equal-pay rules require companies with more than 100 employees to report their employees’ compensation–broken down by race, ethnicity, and gender–to the federal government. These new rules will go into effect in 2017.

Empower Women: Negotiations Training and Salary History Ban


One study of graduating MBA students found that half of the men negotiated their job offers as compared to only one-eighth of the women. To encourage more women to negotiate, cities like Boston are offering free salary negotiation workshops to every woman living within a certain jurisdiction.  Gyals Network also offers free or low-cost negotiations webinars designed specifically for women and people of color.

In addition to negotiations resources, there have been great strides towards a salary history ban. Last August, Massachusetts became the first state to ban employers from asking about job applicants’ salary histories until they make a job offer, and other states are expected to follow suit. Women’s rights advocates say that basing pay on past salary is a key contributor to the gender pay gap, because it discriminates against women who earn less than men from the start of their careers.

The consensus is to stick to the present, and when things look grim, be ready to act.