Taking the fight for pay equity for Black women to Pittsburgh businesses

ROCHELLE JACKSON is founder and director of the Black Womens Policy Center.

Open roundtable occurs Sept. 21

Rochelle Jackson, founder and director of the Black Womens Policy Center, has taken off the gloves and is ready to rumble with Pittsburgh business and nonprofits over pay equity for women of color.

On June 30, her organization, along with the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh and the Women & Girls Foundation, joined forces to start the “Level Up Greater Pittsburgh Pay Equity Campaign,” pretty much a demand from area businesses that women of color and Black women are paid just like White men in the region.

What a White man makes in a year, it takes Black women almost two years to make the same pay, Jackson told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, Sept. 13.

“If that’s not enough to convince an organization or business that (pay equity) is needed and is necessary for our region, what more evidence do we need?” Jackson said. “Bottom line is that women in this country are not paid equally.”

The “Level Up” campaign asks local companies to take the Pay Equity Pledge, which has five pillars: Commit to supporting, promoting, and engaging in pay transparency early during the hiring process; Ensure a fair and equitable hiring process by eliminating desired salary and salary history questions from the application process; Provide annual company-wide diversity trainings to address, reduce, and educate about unconscious biases and associated barriers that impact hiring, promotion, and organizational culture; Undertake an annual review of gender and race pay differences among employees performing comparable tasks requiring similar levels of responsibility, skills, complexity, and working conditions and considering levels of education, prior experience, skill, and company tenure; and Commit to reviewing policies and practices to ensure compliance with The National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

While there have been some Pittsburgh businesses and nonprofits that have already signed the pledge, Jackson’s group is holding a roundtable discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 9:30 to 11 a.m., at Emerald City (213 Smithfield Street, Downtown), to give businesses and others an opportunity to learn more about the pledge and campaign. Jackson told the Courier she wants local businesses and nonprofits to attend the roundtable, because pay equity in Pittsburgh for Black women and other women of color is paramount, even if seemingly no one’s talking about it.

Pittsburgh wants to be the most livable city, Jackson said, but the pay wage gap for women of color is the “ugly crisis that Black women are dealing with that no one” wants to deal with.

(Editor’s note: To sign the pledge or attend the roundtable, visit http://blackwomenspolicycenter.org)




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