Overlooked and Undervalued

Black women in the workplace

As Black History Month draws to a close and Women’s History Month is about to begin, I have been thinking about the often overlooked and undervalued Black women of our workforce.

Black women disproportionately hold service jobs and, as a group, must work until August to earn the same amount of money as White men did in the previous year. Despite the fact that they have always had the highest labor participation of all women in the United States, Black women have been historically excluded from protective labor policies, faced workplace discrimination, and been left in economic precarity with a substantial wealth gap.

A long history of systemic inequities are to blame, from redlining to occupational segregation, so we must start with systems change to correct the course. In terms of workforce development, this can look like closing wage gaps, creating equitable jobs and workplaces, and advancing Black women’s participation in higher paid industries.

The National Fund’s Race and the Work of the Future report and Toolbox for the Systems Change Mindset may help you start thinking about how your organization can contribute to this effort. At the National Fund, we are expanding systems thinking for equity in our network though a dynamic learning lab, set to launch this spring. I am eager to see that work unfold.

Addressing systems is tough work, but it is the only way we can get at root causes and build a better future. When the most marginalized among us are lifted up, we are all better for it.

Amanda Cage

-- President and CEO, National Fund for Workforce Solutions