Closing The Gap

This is how Elizabeth Warren plans to close the pay gap for women of color

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren gestures as she speaks during a campaign stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia on May 16, 2019.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

On Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released an ambitious plan to close the pay gaps that women of color face at work.

In a Medium post, the Massachusetts senator writes that if elected, on day one of her presidency she would implement a set of executive actions that would "boost wages for women of color and open up new pathways to the leadership positions they deserve."

Warren cited data that indicates that more than 70% of black mothers and more than 40% of Latina mothers are the sole breadwinners in their families, compared to less than a quarter of white mothers. She says that "while millions of families count on Latinas and black women to deliver financially, they face a steeper climb to provide that financial security" due to bias and discrimination.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks on during the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Currently, black women, Native American women and Latina women make 61 cents, 58 cents and 53 cents, respectively, compared to white men. "And it's getting worse," writes Warren. "The gap in weekly earnings between white and black women is higher today than it was 40 years ago."

To fix this problem, Warren says that as president she would deny federal contracts to companies with a poor track record of diversity and equal pay, implement a minimum wage salary of $15 an hour (since black and brown women disproportionately occupy low-wage jobs), ban companies from asking applicants about their salary and criminal histories, and ban companies from using forced arbitration and non-compete clauses that "make it harder for employees to fight wage theft, discrimination and harassment."

Additionally, Warren points out that women of color also face a steeper climb to higher-level management positions. "Even though black women and Latinas are often the leaders and decision-makers in their own homes and communities, they hold only one spot on the Fortune 500 CEO list and less than 5% of Fortune 500 Board positions," she writes.

Currently, Mary Winston, who was appointed interim CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond in May, is the only black woman leading a Fortune 500 company.

Warren writes that she would provide companies with resources to attract applicants from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions. She says she would also create paid fellowship programs for federal jobs for minority and low-income candidates and she would require every federal agency to make diversity a core part of its strategic plan. This includes, she says, creating a government-wide mentorship program focused on black and brown employees.

"It's time to build an America that recognizes the role that women of color play in their families and in the economy," writes Warren, "that fairly values their work, and that delivers equal opportunity for everyone."

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