Today is the first-ever International Equal Pay Day. Globally, women earn some 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job, a figure which does not reflect the regional barriers that women often face in their quest for paid work, training, and access to credit or other investment.
In the U.S., the pandemic threatens to reverse years of hard-fought economic gains. The gender gap in unemployment has spiked due to the coronavirus, eliminating the gender parity in nonfarm payrolls that occurred briefly at the end of 2019. And mothers of school-age kids or caregivers are struggling under the pressure of helping their families while working from home, sometimes cutting back on hours or forced to leave the workforce entirely.
For women of color, already underpaid and overwhelmed, it’s particularly grim.
"Even when jobs start to be regained, women of color are still going to—it's going to take that group longer to sort of recover from this pandemic," Michelle Holder, professor of economics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told NPR. "We relied quite heavily on women during this pandemic, not only for work done in the home, but for work done outside the home. We saw that it was women out there, women as nurses, women as home health aides, as nursing assistants."
A host of solutions are needed to keep women safely working. But Katica Roy, an economist and the CEO and founder of Pipeline, a software company that uses AI to measure economic progress through a gender equity lens, says the first step is to re-make the business case for equity.
In this opinion piece for Fortune, she shares independent research that reminds us what we already know: Workplace equity is good for business. “[C]ompanies that support diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) workforces not only perform better in good times, they also are better at weathering economic downturns," she writes. "Between 2007 and 2009, the S&P 500 declined 35%. However, businesses where key employee groups (such as women and people of color) said they had ‘very positive experiences’ saw their stocks rise an average of 14.4%.”
But to turn this dire moment into an equity movement, she says, it’s time for corporations to get transparent with their data to find and fix the bottlenecks.
“The basis for standard DEI reporting should stem from current Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) requirements. As it stands, companies with 100 or more employees must provide data on gender and race broken down across 10 different job classifications every year,” but that baseline is insufficient, she says.
“First, this data must be made public every year. Today, a mere 4% of companies voluntarily publish their data," she adds. "Second, we must include pay data to the already-required reporting on gender and race across job classifications. Third, we must add a new category of metrics to track the entire employee lifecycle by gender, race, and ethnicity. These metrics include rates of promotion, representation on every step of the corporate ladder, representation on boards, performance evaluation scores, and access to resources, sponsorships, and growth opportunities.”
I believe Roy is right—and when a few more details fall into place, I’ll be able to share a way that Fortune is preparing to support this effort.
But until then, it’s worth thinking about how all women, from the executive ranks to the women who clean their homes, can be paid fairly for their work, treated with respect, and supported to live healthy and dignified lives.
What ideas are hiding in plain sight? Let us know what you're working on.
Housekeepers face a “full-blown humanitarian crisis” The housekeeping profession is among the hardest hit in a world remade by COVID—some 72% report having lost all their clients by the first week in April. Though some have been booking new clients, the jobs are less well paid. This story digs into the details of what that means for the mostly Black, Latina and immigrant women, and reveals the ugly, racist New Deal history that denied key protections for domestic and farm labor work in 1935. That foundation of disregard and disrespect informs the plight of these essential workers today. “The ordeal of housekeepers is a case study in the wildly unequal ways that the pandemic has inflicted suffering,” says David Segal.
New York Times
Around the world, it’s women and children who are suffering most Nick Kristoff condenses the rising drumbeat of concern for the wellbeing of communities living in poverty around the world into a clear-throated call to action. Malaria, tuberculosis, HIV infections are on the rise. Efforts to delay child marriage and keep children in school are faltering. And deaths from malnutrition and preventable disease are creeping up. “In short, a pandemic of disease, illiteracy and extreme poverty is following on the heels of this coronavirus pandemic—and it is hitting children hardest,” he writes. What’s to be done?
New York Times
The pandemic—and the inequities it reveals—is galvanizing Hispanic voters A new report from Telemundo, working with Buzzfeed News, surveyed more than registered 1,300 Latinx voters aged 18 to 34 about their views and civic participation. It’s all fascinating but one finding jumped out at me: some 85% of respondents said that issues of inequity and systemic barriers are most likely to motivate them to vote. And while half claim to be the same political affiliation as their parents, they describe themselves as more informed, vocal and likely to vote.
Young Latinos: A Generation of Change
Employing a housekeeper or nanny? Here are some best practices courtesy of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, to help you better find and support the assistance you need while keeping everyone safe.
The demand for low wage workers created a shared Latinx immigrant identity This fascinating piece from JSTOR explores the experiences of immigrant laborers starting from the mid-twentieth century and finds that the shared common experience of bigotry forged a necessary alliance most often between Mexican and Puerto Rican workers. The piece surfaces the work of historian Lilia Fernández, who found that discrimination persisted even when the US government is responsible for importing the workers to begin with. “U.S. imperialism, modernization and industrialization campaigns, agricultural displacement, environmental catastrophe, and government policies made Mexico and Puerto Rico ripe candidates for exporting workers,” she says.
raceAhead is edited by Aric Jenkins.
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