On July 31, Affinity Community Services hosted its Black Equal Pay Day intersectional panel discussion.
The panel was led by Affinity Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon. The other three panelists were Shirlondra Brooks, senior program manager at Women Employed; Ruth Sweetser, immediate past president of the American Association of University Women ( AAUW ); and career specialist ( and Windy City Times 30 Under 30 recipient ) Ashley Brazil.
The intimate event allowed guests to lounge comfortably as they ate snacks and listened to the four women speak.
The discussion began with each of the women recalling how the gender wage gap has affected them in their careers and their personal lives. "It interrupts your motivation," said Brooks regarding her experience with unequal pay in the workforce. The panel went on to discuss why Black women in low income areas fail to speak up about the wage gap. The panelists credited the lack of voice to lack of resources and fear of missing out on a paycheck entirely.
Other topics that were explored included the "motherhood" tax or the "wife penalty," as well as how the negotiation of benefits and wages in the workplace. Lastly, solutions were discussed.
"Safety is key," said Brazil, who assists LGBT people as they emerge themselves in today's workforce. She went on to say that trainings for employers and employees would be a great start to women gaining equality at work. Rupert-Gordon added that training as well as raising awareness could be helpful. She encouraged guests to be transparent about their wages. "Keeping salaries quiet does not benefit us; it benefits employers," said Rupert-Gordon.
The conversation came to a close with a Q&A segment during which guests asked panelists for personal advice in attacking the gender-wage gap as well as tips on advocating for other women.
For more information on Affinity or the gender-wage gap, visit Affinity95.org .