Recent studies by Statistics Canada confirm an ugly truth: Black women have a greater gender pay gap in Canada, with employment incomes that are 8 to 9 per cent lower than their white counterparts. The Canadian Women’s Foundation believes that misogynoir, or unique discrimination and systemic barriers that impact Black women and girls in Canada, is the root cause of the disturbing inequities.
Misogynoir was a term first coined by African-American feminist activist Dr. Moya Bailey in 2008. “It really is a reference to a toxic mix—I call it a wicked toxic mix of sexism, anti-Black stereotyping and targeting,” explains Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “Those of us within Black, racialized, and Indigenous communities have known and have felt these things for a long time, but until we have the data to really tell the accurate picture of the experiences, our stories are left as stories and not necessarily believed.”
Is Misogynoir present in your workplace? What to look out for:
Investigate if Black women are being paid less than their white colleagues. What is the gender pay gap that Black women are facing?
More Qualifications Than Colleagues
What are the qualifications that different employees bring to your workforce? “We know, for example, that studies show that Black women are 1.5 times overqualified compared to white women for the same job,” states Senior. Investigate if there’s a discrepancy on your team.
Explore what barriers exist for Black women, compared to their counterparts. “Being able to access capital, being seen as credible and believable, being seen as good stewards of resources, having access to the networks and the connections that are critical in building a successful entrepreneurial venture…these are some of the things that Black woman entrepreneurs are facing,” explains Senior.
If we’re going to level the playing field, a multipronged approach is necessary, especially in the healthcare and social services sector, where Black women make up a significant percentage of the workforce. “The disproportionate impacts that we saw during the pandemic have always been there. It’s important that we’re understanding that the impact has both mental and physical health outcomes as well. The illnesses and the exclusion and all of these discriminatory practices have a negative impact on the health and well-being of Black women.”
How do we fix it? Immediate steps individuals and companies can take:
- Pay Transparency. Job postings need to include a pay scale. This is one easy way to ensure that new hires are treated fairly.
- Representation. “Invite voices into spaces where we know and can see that Black women are absent,” says Senior.
- Speak out when you see discrimination in your company (or anywhere).
- Improve working conditions for Black women and gender-diverse people. Companies need to invest in services, programs and advocacy efforts that are led by and for Black women.
- Listen to Black women. “Listening to their voices, getting their feedback. Really understanding what it is that they’re saying,” says Senior.
To learn more about misogynoir in Canada, head to the Canadian Women’s Foundation website. They recently shared a transcript from their Misogynoir and Healing Journeys event which delves deeper into the subject.