Food-For-Thought Friday: Speak Less, Listen More- A Lesson on Women’s Rights and Race

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

I have been deciding what I want to call the theme of my Friday posts and then it hit me: Food-for-thought Friday. My goal is to share insights I have on a myriad of topics – either inspired by content I have elsewhere on the interwebs or just something I feel warrants discussion.

Today, I am sharing my latest You Tube video from “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel. If you aren’t already aware, I post a video per week there giving the behind-the-scenes or background on the article of the week. I also post the replays from my weekly Ask Czarina Live™ Periscope show so you should definitely subscribe, but I digress.

Last night, on my Ask Czarina Live™ show I discussed pay equity for women. I talked about the fact that I am disgusted with talking about it. I also shared the startling statistics in the pay equity discussion for women of color.

Did you know?

Although white women get paid 79 cents on every dollar of their white male counterpart makes, Black women make 64 cents on that same dollar. Latinas get paid 54 cents on that same white male dollar. Women across racial demographics who are disabled make 64 cents on the dollar as well. Which brings to light that even though there is a general issue with pay equity for women, the impact is disproportionately adverse when we break it down by race and even ability.

What I find fascinating is the inability of white males and even females to see how this may be a tremendous hurdle for women of color to overcome. There is a mindset that if we (people of color) simply do the “right things” that the problem of inequity goes away and we can all go home and resume our lives as successful professionals. Quick to speak up and offer up solutions, slow to listen.

I contend that it isn’t that simple. There is a system and an institution in this country that makes it near impossible in some cases for women of color to catch up. Even if white women catch up eventually, we will always be behind. That fact doesn’t change unless, white people recognize the issue for what it is and make some serious and intentional changes in how gender and race is viewed in this country. That’s the price of being the majority. What can I say – with great power comes great responsibility as they say.

Someone on my show mentioned, “People pay for what they want.” We could make the case that the fact that pay equity is still an issue is a sign that women overall are unwanted in the workforce. I can also make the case that women of color and those who are disabled are damn near invisible when you consider the spectrum of how much the powers-that-be choose to pay us.

There are ways we can advocate for ourselves as women on the whole, but the advocacy is a harder sell for some of us. This is a fact.

Here’s the food-for-thought: Don’t be offended or quick to offer-up a solution, when women of color speak about the reality of their own plight in the pay equity debacle. It isn’t an affront to white women or anyone else. Instead, ingest the data and decide for yourself if you would want the same for yourself or your daughter. What would you do? I think I already know what your answer is.

Until the next time…thank you for reading! I appreciate you immensely. Stay tuned for more food-for-thought next Friday.

#EqualPayDay What Are You Doing Differently Today?

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

As I turned on my computer yesterday and started to navigate my various social accounts, I found out that it was #EqualPayDay. It was a day for all of us to discuss the obvious issue with pay equity in this country. It also marks how far into the year women must work in order as much as their male counterparts earned in 2014.  I’m always down for a good social campaign, but something about #EqualPayDay feels banal.

It is well documented that women are paid less than men in the workplace. We also know that black and latino women fare the worse with regard to pay equity. The bigger question is: what are employers going to do about it? It’s cute to hop on social media and tweet your support for the day, but again what is anyone going to do about it?

I am a solopreneur with a little over two years under my belt as a business owner. I can assure you when my time comes to hire a few good women to assist me with building my legacy they will be compensated adequately for their efforts regardless of gender, color or any other identifiable criteria beyond their control. That’s my vision for my company.  I have powerhouse women friends who also own their own businesses and have dedicated themselves to filling in all the pay equity gaps women have had to deal with for eternity by offering: fair salaries, childcare and eldercare options, real maternity leave that isn’t confined to a 12 week FMLA allotment etc. You see, the end to the gender pay gap in this country has to start with good intentions. If you have little or no regard for a certain subsection of citizens or better yet the people you employ (who happen to be human beings like you) none of this will change.

Food for thought…

Women don’t just get screwed on salary alone, it is the entire package and delivery that creates economic disparity. Every unpaid medical or maternity leave, the inordinate costs of childcare and eldercare; and wages that have stopped increasing or do so marginally prevents us from being able to sustain ourselves and our families. According to a recent study by the Center For American Progress, over 50% of women work outside of the household and contribute to their families economic security.

I have been pretty transparent about my salary negotiation missteps over the course of my career. However, what’s really disturbing is that the “sisterhood” isn’t collectively on the same page when it comes to closing this gap. Out of the seven positions I have held over the course of my career, I have had one male boss. The rest have been women. In all circumstances, not one of them ever advocated or demanded I be paid my worth. They used to lie and tell me that they were pulling for me to get the raises I was fighting for, but it was hot air. It was never their intention to ensure that I was paid a fair wage for my efforts.

Here’s the bottom-line, if I work hard and provide quality outcomes I expect to be paid commensurate with the result. I don’t want to hear: “hang in there” “I’m rooting for you” “Budgets are tight” or “maybe next year”. Women want this to change now- not in 2049 or 2178.

I say all of this to say leaning-in never increased my salary, asking for more never increased my salary and it had little to do with my ability or lack thereof to negotiate. The system in many companies is not geared to serve the interests of women or minorities for that matter. The companies that care and want to see everyone succeed do so because they start with good intentions, consistent action and passion for establishing fair workplace standards.

I know many of you felt empowered yesterday, but what are you doing about it today in your own businesses? I’ll wait. 

 

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Life Data

 

Image courtesy of Brainy Quote

 

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 16 of 31- Life Data

There’s a lot of talk about pay equality, race equality, women’s rights etc. Equally, I feel that the rhetoric against equality on all of these fronts is increasingly divisive and disrespectful. Additionally, there is something to be said for what goes unsaid, because that too is an answer. Those that read my posts regularly know I don’t shy away from the tough subjects. I have tackled everything from Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” campaign to “Race Relations in the Workplace”. Each time, I learn a little more about the moral paradigm the U.S operates under.

When I called the NYPD out for not dealing with their race issues, I got responses like: “black people are always complaining” or “black people commit most crimes and if they didn’t situations like Ferguson wouldn’t happen.” When I talked about how I thought Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” and “Lean-In” campaigns were short-sighted, I had a man tell me that “there is no such thing as pay inequity.” In all of these instances, I shared my experiences. The comments and moderate backlash is not something I take personally, but I do have a problem when people confuse “experience” and “opinion”.

If I say I have never experienced being discriminated against, but offer up some thoughts based on what I think being discriminated against is like- that is an opinion. If I have worked in Corporate America as a black woman and been passed up for promotions and paid less than my white counterparts- that my friends is a bonafide experience. It is something I would like to call “life data”. No, it hasn’t been incubated and studied with a proper sampling, controls and variables aligned. However, it is something I have experienced and have unofficially corroborated with other black females across the country in similarly situated positions and everything in between. That said, I have every right to speak about these issues.

We have become so excitable about data and proof, that we forget that even one instance of any event serves as some proof that something has occurred. When we are faced with employee complaints or claims in an organization, they are often singular instances of issues that are dealt with on a case-by case basis. It is those individual complaints that often times lead to larger narratives that have to be investigated. If we were to discount the experience of individuals until we had a collection of people coming forward with the same issue- we would:

1) Be dealing with bigger issues because the employee would probably sue or file an outside claim.

2) We would be catching a problem far too late to the detriment of both the workforce and company.

We have gotten very good at discounting the experiences of others in this country. The sentiment is if it’s not happening to me or anyone I know- it isn’t a problem. While I will agree that some of us humans have a completely skewed and screwed up way of viewing the world, even that phenomenon is life data. Everyday we open our eyes and interact in the world, provides experiences that become data we use to inform our decisions in life.

I tell you all of this to say, I am sick and tired of people telling me and others that what we see and experience isn’t real or is at a minimum “a humble opinion”. Until you have walked a day in another person’s shoes, you have no frame of reference. It is not reasonable to swap their experiences out for your sloppy opinion.

The individuals who risked making the comments above forgot to arm themselves with data. I am happy to note that I didn’t go commando, but instead reminded them of the facts using data; I haven’t heard from them since. Poof be gone!

 

Czarina’s Lesson: Your lack of experience and understanding, isn’t a reason for me to be both silent and blind.

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Silent Sentinel

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 4 of 31- Silent Sentinel

March 3rd, 1913 a woman by the name of Alice Paul organized  a woman’s suffrage parade of more than 5,000 women participants from every state in the union. This wasn’t just any day, it was President Wilson’s first inauguration. It wasn’t your typical parade, Paul and the participants were marching in the name of woman’s suffrage. Onlookers assaulted the marchers which very quickly escalated to a volatile situation.

Four years later, Alice Paul broke away from the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to form a more radical delegation of women’s rights activists called the National Women’s Party (NWP). It was also during that time that she assembled the “Silent Sentinels” to protest President Wilson’s ongoing lack of support for women’s suffrage. As pictured above, these women asked the obvious questions: “how long must liberty wait and “what will you do for women’s suffrage”.

Why is this important?

This moment in history verifies what I have been saying in previous posts- when you choose awareness and action over ignorance and inaction- it is a problem. Alice Paul and her fellow suffragists were attacked while police officers pretended not to see the attacks and then they were arrested and put away for seven months. I note that when the NYPD and Ferguson had the center stage last year, I did not choose silence over what I knew, I spoke up and called them out – namely the administration for having a poor system and and even worse practices. As a wife to a detective and someone who grew up with the NYPD, I felt there was no one better to talk about the real issues that were causing the civil unrest than me. In return, I had several men chime in. One said that they hoped for my husband’s sake that I was “hot” and that I must be an “A-1 ball-buster at home”. Another exclaimed ” who is this chick that thinks she knows the NYPD and how to fix the issues- she hasn’t a clue.”

Like Alice Paul, these men found my rhetoric and disposition to be “unladylike” and “radical”. In 2015, it is still the opinion of many men that a woman should know her place. I should be seen and not heard. Since I have an opinion, I must automatically drive my husband insane. If the latter is true, the only way the relationship could be worth it (according to these guys) is if I were “hot”. It is not only pathetic but sad, that I even have this as an anecdote to share.

Here’s the facts: I don’t bust balls for folly, but I certainly will-if warranted. I am allowed to have an opinion and feel empowered to speak up, if I choose. I am very much a lady and also radical when the spirit moves me. I don’t take kindly to anyone telling me when and how I should react. I am confident in my skin and operate on these premises, because my father (a man) constantly drilled me on the importance of being independent and strong. I’ve seen what hair twirling, flirting and “lady-like” behavior gets women in the boardroom. You get smirks, raised eyebrows and side-eye from the women witnessing a weak attempt of a fellow woman trying to be seen as worthy and viable. I simply wish that as women we could just show up unapologetically and be accepted for what we bring to the table.

In conclusion, the men that were spewing this stuff  had never been schooled on social media 101 apparently. As such, it never occurred to them that the thread they were bashing me on would be seen by my dad. I can tell you that no matter how old a woman gets, no father takes kindly to people speaking ill of their daughter. My dad had a field day with one of them-to which this gentleman agreed he was in the wrong for making assumptions about who I was because he didn’t like my opinion. While I can’t be sure if these men were truly sorry or just sorry that the father of the conspirator caught them in the act, This situation and others ensure that I will continue to speak out in the future.

The time for women to be paid equitably, treated fairly , and regarded as the awesome human beings we are is now. Alice Paul was fighting this fight over 96 years ago, isn’t it time?

Czarina’s Lesson: When it comes to the fight for civil liberties, what is old is new and what is new is old. There’s no true liberty until everyone is afforded the same opportunities and rights.

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