Until [Economic] Justice…Just Is.

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Until [Economic] Justice…Just Is.

Categories: News

UNTIL [ECONOMIC] JUSTICE…JUST IS.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is excited to be a part of the Until Justice…Just Is campaign. Join us as we cover a different topic each month to explore some of many areas in which true justice is needed, and what we can do to achieve equity in our community and our country until justice…just is.

This month, we believe that true gender and racial equity includes economic justice. Join us in reading and learning about how to ensure true economic empowerment in our country and communities until economic justice…just is. #UntilJusticeJustIs


WE ADVOCATE FOR: ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

PART I: GENDER WAGE GAP

THE PROBLEM

  • The average woman is paid 82 cents for every 1 dollar earned by the average man. 
    • This is a far more significant gap for women of color. 
  • Progress in closing the wage gap has slowed in recent years, having closed only 1 cent since 2015.
  • Gender discrimination and bias against women in leadership roles contributes to women progressing in their career at a much slower rate than men. 
    • Once doing so, the pay gap widens even further. 
  • The gender pay gap follows women for a lifetime:  
    • Women average 70% of what men have in overall retirement income due to lower lifetime earnings resulting in less Social Security and pensions 

CAUSES OF THE GENDER WAGE GAP 

Occupational Segregation 

  • Occupational segregation funnels women & men into different industries and jobs based on gender norms or expectations. 
  • These industries & jobs dominated by women typically offer lower pay & fewer benefits: 
    • 15 of the 20 highest paying jobs are dominated by men. 
    • 14 of the 20 lowest paying jobs are dominated by women. 
  • Internalizing these biases may encourage women and men to perceive their abilities as different from a young age, discouraging them to pursue nontraditional fields. 

Childcare and Caregiving 

  • Women are disproportionately driven out of the workforce to accommodate for childcare, caregiving, and other unpaid obligations.  
  • Childcare in our country fails to meet the needs of many parents (often inaccessible, or unaffordable), leaving mothers most likely to fill this gap. 
  • May cause gaps in employment, or only allow women to work part-time.  
  • May cause women to face wage penalties upon returning to the workforce. 

Gender Discrimination and Bias 

  • Gender-based pay discrimination has been illegal since 1963, but is still a widespread practice, especially toward women of color.  
    • Examples of this include: 
      • Explicit decisions to pay women less than men. 
      • Relying on prior salary history in hiring and compensation decisions. 
      • Women more likely to be punished or denied when asking for a higher wage.
  • Gender stereotypes help sustain the gender pay gap. 
    • Examples of these include:
      • Bias against women in leadership. 
      • Mothers viewed as less devoted to their work or planning to leave the workforce. 
      • Women viewed as less competent than men at many tasks. 

EFFECTS OF THE GENDER WAGE GAP 

  • Contributes to higher poverty rates for women and their children. 
  • Paying women less than men keeps 545.7 billion dollars from helping stimulate the country’s economy annually. 
  • May discourage women from entering some fields or occupations when expecting unfair compensation.
  • Contributes to women being more likely to experience intimate partner violence in the form of financial abuse. 
  • Negative mental health effects (see until [Health] Justice Just Is). 

THE SOLUTION 

  • Strong workplace-specific initiatives to ensure equal pay among men and women. 
  • Internal audits reviewing and rooting out racial biases in policies regarding starting pay, allowable pay differences, and pay increases. 
  • Increased educational opportunity and attainment by women in all fields and subjects. 
  • Access to paid sick days and comprehensive paid family and medical leave programs. 
  • Affordable and accessible childcare options for parents. 
  • Updated & comprehensive federal equal pay legislation to combat and protect against discriminatory practices. 
  • Societal confrontation of cultural biases that continue to harm women by devaluing their work and confiding them to specific gender roles. 
  • Centering of voices of women, especially women of color, in policy and practices changes to ensure needs are met. 

WHERE WE STAND 

The cornerstone of our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan is economic advancement, particularly for women and girls of colorWe believe that closing the gender pay gap is an urgently important part of doing so. Further, we are firm advocates for universal childcare at the center of reforming the gender pay gap. 

We believe that we must work to close the racial and gender pay gap. YWCA Greater Cleveland is committed to doing this work internally and advancing equity throughout all parts of our organization to truly empower our team. 

Additionally, we work to empower women in the community through our supportive services at Norma Herr Women’s Center, Cogswell Hall, and Independence Place that encourage self-sufficiency. 

PART II: RACIAL WAGE GAP

THE PROBLEM 

  • Over the last 20 years, the racial wage gap has closed insignificantly and, for some groups, worsened. 
    • For example, the wage gap between Black and white Americans has widened. Some research points to race-based criminal justice disparities. 
  • With the same job and qualifications, men and women of color earn less than white men, however all men out earn the women within their racial ethnic group: 
  • For every dollar the average white man earns:
    • Asian-American & Pacific Islander women are paid 85 cents. 
    • White women are paid 79 cents. 
    • Black women are paid 63 cents.
    • Indigenous women are paid 60 cents. 
    • Latinx women are paid 55 cents.

CAUSES OF THE RACIAL WAGE GAP 

Occupational Segregation 

  • Occupational segregation frequently funnels people of color into fields and occupations that pay less with fewer benefits. 
  • Many of the highest paying fields and occupations have a racist history of excluding people of color, creating opportunity barriers to this day. 
    • This begins at a young age with unequal access to educational and extracurricular resources. 

Racial Bias and Discrimination 

  • White men’s salaries increase at a faster rate than any other group, making pay gaps widen by age job level and demonstrating frequent racial bias in hiring and compensation decisions: 
    • Race has high influence in getting a call back, an interview, or a job. 
    • Racial bias frequently seen in referrals, performance reviews, and other factors that influence promotions or job offers. 
  • White professionals have highest rate of leadership roles demonstrating frequent racial bias against people of color in leadership roles: 
    • Keeping people of color from leadership roles slows career progression, especially for women. 
    • Asian men and women have highest earning rates, but lowest rate of leadership roles. 

EFFECTS OF THE RACIAL WAGE GAP 

  • Advances poverty disparities: 
    • Lower pay leaves families of color more likely to experience poverty and more difficult to sustain economic stability when having to overcome racial barriers to employment and fair pay.
  • Advances generational wealth disparities:  
    • Differences in lifetime earnings create barriers to property ownership, investment, savings, and retirement opportunities, giving white people a significant advantage at creating and/or maintaining generational wealth.
  • Advances criminal justice disparities: 
    • Meeting post-incarceration standards often includes employment. This becomes an increasingly difficult task for people of color who must overcome racial barriers to employment. Once these are overcome, wage gaps may discourage continued employment and result in recidivism.  

THE SOLUTION 

  • Strong workplace-specific initiatives to ensure equal pay among men and women. 
  • Internal audits reviewing and rooting out racial biases in policies regarding starting pay, allowable pay differences, and pay increases. 
  • Increased educational opportunity and attainment by people of color, especially women, in all fields and subjects. 
  • Strict enforcement and expansion of current employment and anti-discrimination legislation. 
  • Centering of voices of color, especially women, in policy and practices changes to ensure needs are met. 
  • Societal confrontation of racial biases that continue to harm people in the workplace, criminal justice system, and beyond. 

WHERE WE STAND 

YWCA Greater Cleveland recognizes the importance of closing the racial pay gap immediately. Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan highlights our goals of racial equity and the economic advancement, particularly for women and girls of color. 

We believe that we must work to close the racial and gender pay gap. YWCA Greater Cleveland is committed to doing this work internally and advancing equity throughout all parts of our organization to truly empower our team. 

Additionally, we work to eliminate racism through our programming, such as the 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge and Go LIVE for Equity series, as well as centering and uplifting the voices of people of color, especially women. 

PART III: THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

THE PROBLEM 

Racial Inequity and Injustice 

  • The criminal justice system is well known for its racial inequities and injustices. These practices make a lifelong impact on people and families of color (especially women) who already face barriers to economic stability, employment, and fair wages, further widening racial and gender inequities and pay gaps. 

Cash Bail and Missed Work 

  • Widespread use of the cash bail system requires continued involvement with the criminal justice system for those who cannot afford payment. 
    • The racial and gender wage gaps disproportionately force people of color into this position, particularly women. 
  • Missing work due to involvement with the criminal justice system means loss of wages, inability to pay bills, and likely termination for many employees, as well as barriers to future employment. 
    • This increases likelihood of future involvement with the criminal justice system: 
      • Lost wage and inability to pay bills decreases economic stability upon reentry into society, making it hard to regain. 
      • Termination in employment history compounds with criminal record creating more barriers to future employment. 

Post-Involvement 

  • After involvement with the criminal justice system, various fees and in-person check-ins are common. 
    • Ability to afford these payments is often reliant on employment with which in-person check-ins, and the steps it takes to get there (transportation, childcare, etc.) often interfere. 
  • People involved in the criminal justice system earn less over the course of their lives: 
    • People who have spent time incarcerated earn 52% less than the average American, and those convicted of a crime with no conviction earn 16-22% less. 
    • This is especially devastating for people of color (particularly women) who already face large wage gaps. 

Families 

  • Families of those involved with the criminal justice system often bear financial burdens as well.  
  • Just some examples of this include: 
    • Lost earnings of said family member, increased childcare burdens, transportation costs, communication costs, commissary money, court costs, legal fees, criminal justice debt, and much more.  
  • This is particularly devastating to people of color (particularly women) who already face barriers to economic stability. 

THE SOLUTION 

  • Intentional inclusion and centering of voices of incarcerated people of color in policy and practice changes around criminal justice reform, economic empowerment, and closing gender and racial wage gaps. 
  • Legislative and societal investment in paths that avoid incarceration and do not encourage further barriers to economic stability. 
    • Such as, drug or mental health treatment programs, probation, community service, etc. 
  • Legislative policies that end discrimination against those with previous criminal justice system involvement in areassuch as employment and housing. 
  • Increased funding in supportive services for those with previous involvement with the criminal justice system involvement to empower people to access the resources they need to thrive in the community. 

WHERE WE STAND 

YWCA Greater Cleveland recognizes the importance of closing the racial pay gap immediately. Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan highlights our goals of racial equity and economic advancement, particularly women and girls of color.

We believe that this cannot be achieved without dismantling the barriers to economic empowerment and racial inequities the criminal justice system perpetuates. 

We stand in solidarity with those fighting to ensure criminal justice reform and will continue to advocate for the elimination of barriers to safe and stable housing. 

PART IV: COVID-19

THE PROBLEM 

Growing Inequities 

  • COVID-19 helped create extreme changes to the country’s workforce and revealed many inequitable employment barriers and practices.  
  • The racial and gender wage gaps have both widened significantly during the pandemic, setting us further back in progress than ever. 
    • What was once 99 years to close the global wage gap has increased to 135 years during the last year. 
    • As people continue to return to work, studies are revealing that those who were laid off at some point during the COVID-19 crisis are seeing a much larger wage gap than those who were not, helping perpetuate these gaps. 

Effects on Women 

  • Women, particularly women of color, have taken the hardest economic hit during the pandemic. 
    • Many occupations and industries disrupted by COVID-19 are women-dominated. 
    • Women’s labor force participation is at a 33-year low. 
      • Many women have been forced to choose between prioritizing their employment or their family, health and safety 
  • As people continue to return to work, barriers to employment and fair wages are now compounded with new COVID-related barriers for women, especially women of color. 
  • Because many schools have remained closed or part time, women have been left with bad options: reduce hours at work, leave their jobs, pay for childcare, or rely on their support network to be able to care for their children. 
  • Technological advances continue to eliminate entry-level jobs dominated by women, especially women of color, leaving them with no field to return to for employment and irrelevant experience 

THE SOLUTION 

  • Centering of voices of women of color in responses to COVID-19, federally, locally, and in the workplace to encourage women’s return to the workforce. 
  • Continued and increased protection of people of color and women in the workplace through comprehensive legislation and workplace practices to eliminate racial and gender wage gaps. 
  • Widespread, accessible childcare for all children to help encourage women’s return to the workforce. 

WHERE WE STAND 

YWCA Greater Cleveland is a strong advocate for closing the racial and gender wage gaps. As the COVID-19 pandemic has widened both of these, we see the urgent importance of taking steps to do so.  

As we stand in solidarity with those working to close the gender pay gap, we work to stand as an example of organizations that adapts to current needs the pandemic may create for all employees.  

YWCA’s Early Learning Center supports families by providing an enriching environment for children during the workday so that parents have the ability to participate in the workforce and provide economic stability for their families. We believe all families should have access to childcare and that parenting should not be a barrier to employment. 

WE ADVOCATE FOR: A LIVING WAGE

THE PROBLEM 

  • Research demonstrates that a living wage helps reduce impacts of poverty on communities, while minimum wage legislation may advance them. 
  • When people of color overcome racial and gender barriers to employment and fair pay, low wages often fail to provide them with economic stability. 
  • An increased burden falls on women, particularly women of color, who are more likely to bear childcare and caretaking responsibilities, making it difficult to work enough low wage hours to provide for their families. 

A LIVING WAGE 

  • A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a person to afford to meet their basic needs, such as food and housing, through employment without need for other government programs or subsidies.  
    • This differs from a minimum wage, which may fail to allow employment alone to provide a basic quality of life. 
  • Historically, the minimum wage increase in the 1960s explained 20% of the decrease in the Black-white income gap that followed.  
  • Today, 59% of workers who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage are women, with nearly one in four of these women being Black or Hispanic. 
  • MIT’s living wage calculator identifies $13.48 as a livable wage in Cuyahoga County in a state where the minimum wage is $8.70. 

THE SOLUTION 

  • Federal replacement of minimum wage with living wages. 
  • Workplace-specific adoption of living wages according to needs of the specific area. 
    • Includes future increases to adapt current costs of living. 
  • Widespread, accessible childcare for all children to help encourage economic stability of women and families. 

WHERE WE STAND 

Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan highlights three important goals: racial equity & social justice, economic advancement, and health and safety.

We believe that a living wage is a necessary step for advancement in all areas of our Strategic Plan by closing gender and racial wage gaps, empowering women financially, and providing financial opportunity to address health and safety concerns 

YWCA Greater Cleveland is committed to serving as an example of the positive effects of livable wages and dismantling barriers to achieving a living wage in our community by providing a living wage to all YWCA Greater Cleveland employees. 

SOURCES

Quick facts about the gender wage gap, Center for American Progress. 
Effects of gender pay gap, Internal Labour Organization. 
Gender wage inequality in the United States: Causes and solutions to improve family well-being and economic growth, Equitable Growth. 
The Negative Consequences of Unfair Gender Pay Gaps, SelectOne. 
How is the Gender Pay Gap Affects Women’s Mental Health, CNBC. 
The Real-World Impact of Gender Pay Gaps, WorldatWork. 
The State of the Gender Pay Gap in 2021, Payscale. 
Pay Gaps FAQ, AAUW. 
The Racial Wage Gap Persists in 2020, Payscale 
Balck Workers Still Earn Less than Their White Counterparts, SHRM 
Black-white Wage Gaps are Worse Today than in 2020, Economic Policy Institute. 
The Black-White Wage Gap Is as Big as It Was in 1950, The New York Times
Racial, Gender Wage Gaps Persist in the U.S. Despite Some Progress, Fact Tank.