HBCU Scholars Offer Ways to Close the Wealth Gap for Women

Wealth accural for black women and their families has been an uohill climb from the start. For the first 2 1/2 centuries os U.S. history, black women in general were not paid at all. For at least the next 100 years, Jim Crow policies, like redlining, suppressed their ability to gain wealth.

Since the police murder of George Floyd back in May of 2020 and cotinuing national racial reckoning, many organizations have made commitmentsnto advancing racial equity in various ares, including wealth. However, the racial gap in wealth for black women showw no sign of abating.

-How Can We Solve the Wealth Gap?

Research shows that black women face a 90% welath gap, and the earnings gap drives two-thirds of this divide. Black women lose $907,680 over a 40-year career because of the wealth gap. But we know the well-being of black women won’t improve unless both the earnings and wealth gap are addressed.

To identify solutions to fully address the systemic nature of today’s racial wealth gap, therre was a meeting in which scholars discussed their evidentual frameworks. They offered four evidence-based ways federal and local policymakers and employers could help narrow the racial wealth gap for black women.

1.) Understand and address the role of salary negotiations.

It’s well documented that race and gender, independently, can affect an employee’s pycheck, but when racism and sexism intersect. Black women’s prospects for fair pay worsen. Most scholars found that when racism and sexism overlap, the “double jeopardy” can hamper pay negotion and reduce paychecks for black women.

Their findings show how multiple oppression–like an employer prejudging a black woman’s disposition, or the racial or gender stereotyping–can create disadvantages in hiring, interviewing, and payfor black women. As one study participant said black women are ‘working against a narrative that has deginerated the value of the black woman”.

2.) Align fringe benefits and work-life supports with the needs of black women and their families.

Alone, increasing black women’s earnings isn’t enough to minimize their economic vulnerabilities. Scholars found that black women stand to benefit when they, their partners, and their extended family members all have access to three core ares of fringe benefits and policies: universal work-life balance supports, such as flexible schedules, remote work options, paid time off, mental health days, and family medical leave; holistic dependent care resources and family discounts, and legacy benefits such as employee-share ownership, tuition reimbursement, pension, credit union access, and financial, retirement, and legal counseling.

3.) Address caual factors tied to retirement preparedness.

Black women have the largest labor force participation rates among women overall but face a significant gap in retirement readiness. There are four factors that lead to racial and gender disparities in retirement readiness for black women: employment discrimination, occupational segregation, and low-paying jobs; limited intergenerational wealth transfers, limited home equity and homeownership caused by lending market discrimination.

4.) Create wealth-building opportunities beyond homeownership.

Black women’s economic mobility plays a key role in their wealth-building capacity across the life course and homeownership as a critical component of economic mobility and concludes that the absence of intergenerational homeownership for women of color impairs wealth transmission from one generation to the next.

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