September 21st is National Equal Pay Day for black women in America. This is the day when black women’s earnings have officially caught up to what white men earned in 2021. This year, it took black women 629 days to make what white men earned in 365.
Equal Pay Day is a stark highlight of how pay inequality still pervades the U.S. If people of all races and genders were given equal opportunities, all working-age demographics would reach the end of the year having earned approximately the same amount. Clearly, that’s not the case. Keep reading to learn more about the origin of Equal Pay Day and what to do if you believe you’re not being fairly compensated for your work.
The History of Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day has been observed since 1996 when the National Committee on Pay Equity first calculated how long it would take women’s earnings to equal men’s. Since then, it has become an essential day for educating people on pay inequality because it gives a visceral demonstration of how unequal pay is in the country.
The date is calculated by comparing how much the average member of a demographic earns compared to white men. For example, despite minimum wage laws, black women earn approximately 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes, so it takes two-thirds longer for them to earn the same amount.
There are several Equal Pay Days over the course of the year, each acknowledging a different demographic. This year, other important dates include:
- All Women:March 15th (The average woman with full-time employment earns $0.83 per dollar earned by a man)
- Hispanic Women: December 8 ($0.49 per dollar)
- Native Women: November 30th ($0.50 per dollar)
- Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Women: May 3rd ($0.75 per dollar earned by dads)
- Moms: September 8th ($0.58 per dollar earned by dads)
How to Find Out if You’re Suffering from Inequitable Pay
If women, particularly women of color, were paid fairly for their work, Equal Pay Day wouldn’t be necessary. However, not every company shortchanges its female employees. If you suspect you’re being underpaid, it’s time to do your research to determine what compensation you should expect from your job.
Check Salary Calculators
A quick way to learn the averages for compensation in your field is to check a salary calculator or database. These resources give you a simple way to understand the general salary range you should expect at a job.
There are a wide variety of databases out there specializing in different industries. You can start with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which offers a massive cross-section of wage data for more than 400 industries. These databases are excellent for getting a general idea of what to expect, but they don’t always consider your education, experience, or time spent with a company. They’re an excellent place to start, but you should still do more digging if something feels off.
Research Similar Roles
The next step is to look into roles similar to yours at other businesses. You can research these by checking job boards online. Platforms like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are a good place to start. You can also look at job boards dedicated to your industry. This is more likely to help you find comparable roles if you work in a niche field.
Checking these sites gives you an overview of what salaries and compensation companies offer people with your skills and experience and compares that to what you’re earning. It’s also an excellent way to find examples to show to your employer if they dispute that you’re not being fairly compensated.
Talk to Your Network
The most direct way to learn if you’re underpaid is to reach out to your network. This includes your coworkers, friends, industry contacts, recruiters, and anyone else you know in your field. These people understand your situation and can advise you on what to expect. More importantly, you can discuss compensation with your coworkers to learn what they receive for equivalent work.
Companies that aren’t fairly compensating workers may discourage you from talking to your coworkers about salaries. However, your right to discuss compensation is protected by federal law. Never hesitate to discuss wages with your coworkers to make sure you’re all being fairly paid for your work.
What to Do If You’re Being Underpaid
Once you’ve done your research, you may find that you’re not being paid fairly for your work. If so, it’s time to take action. You can fight for fair pay by taking the following steps:
- Collect evidence: It pays to be prepared. Gather proof that you’re not being paid fairly, such as other job postings for your role offering higher wages or a list of coworkers who are being compensated better for the same work. You can also gather proof of the work you’re doing and the value you’re providing to the company.
- Talk to your supervisor: Schedule a meeting with your supervisor, HR, or the person in charge of your pay. Present your evidence that you’re underpaid and any positive evaluations and successful projects you’ve completed recently. Then request a raise to the fair compensation rate.
- Get legal assistance: If your supervisor doesn’t agree that you’re being underpaid or penalizes you for your request, it’s time to get help. Talk to an experienced employment law attorney about your situation, and they can help you determine what to do next.
Fight for Equal Pay
Women of all races struggle to receive fair pay for their work. If you aren’t being fairly compensated, you can fight back. With expert legal assistance from the qualified employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, you can hold your employer accountable for paying you fairly.
You can learn more about your options by scheduling your free consultation today. Call us at 323-925-2659 or reach out online to discuss your situation and start standing up for your right to fair pay today.