By Gayle Guest-Brown | Special to The OBSERVER
Recent speculation about Black women leaving the workplace in the COVID-19 Era Great Resignation is unsupported by the facts. Bottom line: we cannot afford the luxury of quitting.
That luxury became even more expensive for Black women this year.
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day represents how far into the next year the average Black woman would have to work to equal the average White man’s earnings for a calendar year. In 2021, when Black women earned 63 cents on the dollar compared to White men, that date arrived in August. We have lost ground this year, earning just 58 cents on the dollar and moving Black Women’s Equal Pay Day to Sept. 21. That’s an additional 294 days of work to obtain the average White male’s annual earnings.
If it’s not us, who really is quitting? Harvard Business Review reported that resignations peaked in April and have remained abnormally high for several months, with a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July 2021. Following this reporting there was speculation about Black women leaving the workplace due to the inequities in the workplace, being undervalued, and burnout. However, according to a Pew Research Center report on who quit a job in 2021, Black people (18%) and women in general (19%) were far less significant drivers of the Great Resignation than younger adults: workers ages 18-29 (37%), those without a bachelor’s degree (42%) and in lower-income brackets (25%). Of those in lower-income brackets by gender: 18% men and 19% women, By Race: White 17%, Black 18%, Hispanic 24%, and Asian 24%.
Speculation about Black women leaving the workplace just did not ring true. In California, 80% of Black women are breadwinners, including 70% of Black single moms, according to a report by the California Black Women’s Collective. Nationally, 74% of Black women are breadwinners, compared to all breadwinner households (49%) and 70% of Black single moms are breadwinners compared to all breadwinning moms (43%), according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Black women have long been the heart and soul, the very engine of our community.
Three truths about Black women:
- We work: Black women always have worked outside the home, taking care of White women’s children, homes, and the services field to “make ends meet.” We have the highest labor force participation rate of any demographic (58%). Participation rates are highest for Black Moms (75%).
- We vote: We punch above our weight. While just 7% of the population, Black women vote at a 60% rate, the California Black Women’s Collective study showed. We are good citizens.
- We lead: We have led through the centuries, from Nigerian Queen Amina of Zaria in the 1600s, to Harriet Tubman in the 1800s, to Mary McLeod Bethune in the 1900s, to Vice President Kamala Harris today.
You can bet on Black women – because our heritage is phenomenal and our legacy is strong. We do not quit; we work, we vote, and we lead.
For Black women’s Equal Pay Day, pay and invest in Black women!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Gayle Guest-Brown, PCC, MBA, is an author, speaker, executive leadership strategist and CEO of Guest Brown Impact, a leadership development firm helping professional women of color command their worth at work and overcome challenges to leadership development, purpose, and pay equity, putting their families on firm financial footing. She is the creator of Brand Your Brilliance and Negotiate, a free, virtual, two-day intensive, and the Command Your Worth Blueprint, a six-month hybrid coaching, mentorship, cohort lab. More information: https://direct.me/guestbrownimpact.