Women’s Equality Day Op-ed
Author: Sandra Quince
Bio: Sandra Quince is the Chief Executive Officer for the Paradigm for Parity® Coalition.
On August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day — the day in 1901 when the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote was signed into law. There is no question that in 101 years we have made a great deal of progress for women, but still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, women still face systemic inequities across our society in the jobs they have, the wages they earn, where they live, and the caregiving responsibilities they bear. And it’s women of color who shoulder a disproportionate burden. But what gives us hope are changes we are seeing when businesses uplift women and communities of color, and then everyone wins.
The data makes it clear, companies with diverse leadership teams outperform their competition. Companies with more women executives are up to 48% more profitable than organizations with fewer women executives. In fact, more racially and culturally diverse organizations outperform less racially and culturally diverse organizations by around 36 percent in profitability. And companies with more gender and racial diversity create environments where diversity of thought is commonplace and more creative, unique ideas flow naturally.
Simply put, diversity, equity and inclusion are good for business.
But women are not a monolith. It is essential to consider the unique challenges that various communities of women face in the workplace when seeking to achieve parity.
A great example of this is the wage gap. Earlier this month, we recognized August 3rd as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. This day sheds light on the longstanding disparities Black women face in the workplace, making $0.63 for every dollar non-Hispanic white men make. It represents the eight additional months Black women will have to work to earn the same as what men were paid in the previous 12 months.
And as we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, it’s important to remember that these inequities are embedded in our history.
While celebrating the 19th amendment’s anniversary, it is often the white activists such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott who are remembered as women who quickly adopted the benefits of the amendment.
But too often forgotten are the Black women, including Frances E.W. Harper, Mary Church Terrell, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who were instrumental in ensuring that all women received the right to vote. They led a coalition that actively sought the inclusion of their voices in the decision-making process. And yet those women of color still faced barriers, including grandfather clauses, literacy tests and poll taxes that stood in the way of all women’s progress.
Those systemic limitations prevented women of color from taking advantage of the benefits presented to them in voting, and we cannot continue to ignore the limitations that still exist across our society and within the corporate world.
This must end. We now have an opportunity to make real change that can be incorporated into the way we behave, the way we live, and the way we work. Women, regardless of background, ethnicity or race, can no longer be silenced and shut out of opportunities that they deserve. Gender and racial equity are business imperatives, and full equality in corporate leadership cannot be achieved without both.
As the history behind the 19th amendment and its unequal application shows, taking intentional steps to uplift women who face the intersection of sexism and racism must be prioritized to ensure that multicultural women are not left behind in the fight for equality.
The Paradigm for Parity® Coalition is working with 131 member companies to help them close the corporate leadership gender gap in ways that are inclusive of all ethnicities. The Paradigm for Parity® coalition is taking an intersectional approach to changing the corporate culture — balancing women and women of color’s needs as they climb the corporate ladder to the C-suite.