On average, black women are paid 38 percent less than white men and 21 percent less than white women. By Marianne Schnall




You may have heard about Equal Pay Day being marked on April 10th of 2018 as the day that symbolized how far women had to work into 2018 just to catch up with what men earned in 2017. However, what most people don’t know is that that date does not take into account the disparities that disproportionately affect black women.
For black women, Equal Pay Day is August 7th. That’s more than seven extra months into the year that black women have to work in order to earn what their white male counterparts earned last year alone.
On average, black women are paid 38 percent less than white men and 21 percent less than white women.
Considering how large the wage gap is for black women, there is a striking lack of awareness in America about this inequity: according to research conducted by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey in partnership with the National Urban League, one in three Americans is not aware of the pay gap between black women and white men, and half of Americans are not aware of the gap between black women and white women.
Within companies, employees and hiring managers are also not cognizant of the gap. "The lack of awareness about the pay gap at their own workplace, particularly among hiring managers—two-thirds of whom say there is none—is an insight we hope drives organizations to take action," said Sarah Cho, Director of Research at SurveyMonkey.
To increase awareness about the pay gap affecting black women, LeanIn.Org—an initiative of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation that helps women achieve their ambitions and works to create an equal world—is launching #38PercentCounts, the second of three public awareness efforts rooted in the idea that equal pay matters.* Lean In has partnered with other companies known for pushing for equality in the workplace—including adidas, Lyft, P&G, and Reebok—to ask consumers to think about the impact of getting 38 percent less as they make everyday purchases on August 7.
"The pay gap facing black women is an urgent problem," said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org. "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."
Consider the real-world implications of earning 38 percent less for equal work. Lower earnings means less money for their families, especially since more than 80 percent of black mothers are the primary breadwinners for their households.
“The pay gap is just one example of the unique challenges black women experience in the workplace,” said Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.Org. “They face biases because they’re women and biases because they’re people of color—and this double discrimination holds them back. We know from our Women In The Workplace research that Black women are often overlooked in the workplace. Compared to white women, Asian women and Latinas, they get less support from managers and are promoted more slowly. We need to level the playing field for all women.”
If black women were paid fairly, they would earn on average almost $870,000 more over the course of their career. "Not only would fair pay for black women drastically narrow the racial economic gap, but it would go a long way toward stabilizing our national economy,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “Because black women disproportionately are heads of households, fair pay would create a ripple effect that could lift entire communities.”
What can we do to close the gap? As Lean In’s campaign recognizes, the first step is raising awareness. So start by doing what you can to spread the word. And visit LeanIn.org/38percentcounts where you can show your support for #38PercentCounts, watch their campaign videos featuring real women that show the impact of 38% less on black women’s lives, and see the black women's pay gap "by the numbers.” In addition, the site offers information for business leaders and managers to learn what they can do to close the pay gap in their companies, and provides expert tips and tricks for women on negotiating more effectively.
As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand once told me, “Until women are able to achieve their potential, America will not achieve hers.” I find a 38 percent wage gap to be a fitting example of this—women being held back from reaching their full potential. All women face inequities and biases because of their gender, but we must remember that women of color face even more. The wage gap is an issue that must be addressed for the sake of fairness and equality, but the benefits would be far-reaching. Closing the gap would change lives, uplift entire communities, improve the economy, and open the doors for more black women to advance into leadership—all things that would benefit us all.