Deep Impact of Pay Gap on Black Women

TIME’S UP National Survey Results

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By AFRO Staff

A new national survey from TIME’S UP Foundation, supported by LUNA® bar, showed the deepening impact of pay inequity on Black women, specifically. The survey results are why many feel the urgency to fight to close the pay gap. Eighty-five percent of Black women surveyed said pay equity is just as, or more, important right now.

“The results of this survey demonstrate the perpetual gender and racial inequity in pay that rob Black women of the means to acquire wealth-generating assets, such as savings and investments,” said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “The cumulative effects of this pay discrimination for Black women results in economic instability during our retirement years and hampers our ability to pass generational wealth onto our families. We commend TIME’S UP for this survey that sheds yet another light on the structural barriers that keep too many Black women from achieving economic justice, equality, and prosperity. Our nation must do better.”

Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. ( Courtesy Photo)

The pay gap is one of the most persistent, yet measurable, indicators of systemic sexism and racism in the United States. On average, women in the United States are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, Black women earn just 62 cents on the dollar. TIME’S UP Foundation commissioned PerryUndem to field a national survey of 2,528 diverse adults, ages 18 to 64, between June 2-10 of this year. The survey aimed to better understand people’s perceptions about the pay gap, study how the COVID pandemic and economic downturn affect the drivers of the pay gap and learn what women feel they need to achieve greater financial security. Among the key takeaways from Black women in the survey: 

A few staggering takeaways form Black women surveyed include more than half of them admitting to having faced gender or race discrimination in relation to higher pay. Four in 10 women said that someone in the workplace either claimed or implied that they don’t work as hard because of their gender, race or caregiving responsibilities. Lastly, only 17 percent said they were “very sure” that their employers paid both genders equally, compared to 58 percent of White men. 

“In 2020, Black women have faced multiple crises from the health and financial impacts of the coronavirus to the long-overdue racial justice reckoning as a result of police brutality,” said Adrianna Franch, a goalkeeper for the United States Women’s National Team, a partner in TIME’S UP’s fight to close the pay gap.“This new data shows what so many of us have known: pay inequity— made worse in this moment — has outsized and devastating financial and emotional impacts on Black women. Black women can’t wait any longer to address the gender and racial wage gap. Now is the time to take action and ensure that we root out structural sexism and racism for women, once and for all.” 

These racial and gender inequities have far-reaching consequences on Black women’s financial security, especially amid an economic crisis and pandemic that are disproportionately harming communities of color. 

  • Black women were least likely to feel that they had a job that provided them with the ability to pay their bills, put money aside and also maintain their health. 
  • Nearly half of Black women in the survey do not have enough money right now to pay for their basic needs, such as food and housing. 
  • More than half of Black women in the survey have less than $200 in savings. 

Tellingly, Black women are more likely to fault systemic factors for the pay gap, rather than individual choices. Black women in the survey also identified systemic changes in the workplace, such as paid vacation, retirement benefits, and paid sick days, that would help them become financially secure and healthy. “The patriarchal system from which sexual harassment flows is intimately bound up in the racism and racial hierarchy that has held Black women back for generations,”said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation. “Women, and Black women in particular, need more support around child care, paid family leave, and paid sick leave. Now is the time for leaders to double down on their values and make investments that will help Black women and other underrepresented groups participate fully in our economy.” 

To learn more about the fight for pay equity, visit timesupfoundation.org/times-up-pay-up.