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On Equal Pay Day, Can We Also Have an Equal Credit Day?

Sometime last week, in the midst of all the chaos around promoting Inclusion on Purpose, it dawned on me that I was making a big mistake.

I felt like I was sharing so much about my new book online (#authorlife), I didn’t want to overwhelm you with content. So I took a hiatus from emailing you, believing that you would appreciate not being bothered by me.

But last week I began to realize: I really miss hearing from you.

I always look forward to hearing from you. What I love most about sending these emails that you can just hit reply, and I can hear directly from you. I always look forward to your stories.

So, please excuse me for not connecting with you–directly and openly–which is precisely why I set up this newsletter last year in the first place. Thank you for being here with me on this journey.

On to what’s on my mind.

It’s Equal Pay Day. Sigh.

You’re likely being bombarded today with hot takes on this earlier-than-usual date. Does it signify progress? Progress for whom?

And when is “Equal Pay Day” for Black women? Indigenous women? Asian women who are not in high-earning jobs? Latinx women? (And even among those groups, how might colorism impact pay?)

Whew! It’s a lot, I know. I encourage you to read the journalism and reporting (particularly by women of color) about this day and what it means for our world.

As for me, I’ll offer two insights that I suspect may not be covered widely in the larger discussion about pay equity today:

1. Saying No to Unpaid Labor

Recently, I received an invitation to speak for free at an event. I responded with these words:

"Unfortunately, I'm unable to accommodate unpaid requests as a matter of principle, to stand against the unpaid labor women of color are too often expected to complete."

When I shared this on LinkedIn last week, I was astonished by the response! So many thoughtful people chimed in with their scripts for responding to such requests, and many asked to borrow mine. Please do!

It makes a difference to have a response prepared. It cuts back on any anxiety or uncertainty you may feel about your response, and eliminates decision-making about how to respond. These small “short cuts” add up over time; not only in protecting ourselves but in delivering a consistent message to the world about what we stand for–and paying it forward so that it becomes even more normalized to not ask women of color to work for free.

2. Equal Credit

Equal Pay is not only a matter of dollars and cents. Compensation takes many forms, and credit is one of them.

Women and women of color in particular are often denied the opportunity to do the work that is recognized and celebrated in an organization (yes, I’m referencing “office housework!”) Meanwhile white men largely get the advancement opportunities and credit.

While a gap exists even in the recognition that white women receive compared with white men, white women are still more likely to be in high-visibility positions compared with women of color.

This is why I center the experiences of women of color in my work and in my book Inclusion on Purpose. As I write in the book:

“The intersection between gender and race/ethnicity uniquely impacts women. While women all over the world are at a disadvantage in society and workplaces compared with men, the intersection between gender and race is a key differentiator between women’s experiences. Taking an intersectional lens to equality becomes paramount because racism deeply compounds the bias women of color experience.”

If you’re a woman, woman of color, or person with other underestimated identities, you’ve almost certainly experienced a lack of “equal credit.” I’m talking about your ideas being ignored in meetings until a white man repeats them; your raised hand being overlooked in an audience; your name listed last––if at all––on a group project.

I share 5 ways that people with privilege can take action to give credit where due, here.

So now, my favorite part. I would love to hear from you. What does Equal Pay Day mean to you, if anything? Do you think it’s useful? What’s your experience with saying “no” to unpaid labor, or getting “equal credit”?

And if you’ve read the book, thank you!! Please consider leaving a review on Amazon.


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