The New York State Council on Women and Girls today hosted a forum at the University at Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center on the pay gap afflicting working African American women and explored solutions to extend economic opportunities to all women in the workplace. In August, on Black Women's Equal Pay Day, the New York State Council on Women and Girls and Essence Magazine co-hosted the first forum of this series at the National Urban League Headquarters.
"While the Trump Administration tries to take women's rights backwards, we are fighting tirelessly to keep moving our progress forward," Governor Cuomo said. "These forums help move New York one step closer to closing the gender pay gap for all women and build on our work to cement New York's status as a beacon of progress and opportunity, and I thank the panelists and participants for this thoughtful and incisive discussion."
"As the only statewide female elected official, I've traveled across the state to advance women's rights," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Pay inequality affects all women, but black women earn even less on average compared to white men. We will not stop fighting for racial equality in New York, and we will find solutions to combat pay inequality, once and for all."
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, "I am proud to support bringing more awareness and education to eliminating the pay equity gap that exists for black women. As a woman of color myself, and serving as the Chair of the New York State Legislative Women's Caucus, pay equity for all women is a priority, but especially for black women as we have the largest disparity in pay."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "It is unacceptable that in 2018 we continue to see pervasive income inequality between women and men who are employed for the same position and produce the same body of work - and we understand that these disparities are even worse for women of color. This economic discrimination affects all communities, impeding women and girls from reaching their full potential. I commend Governor Cuomo for his continued efforts to close the wage gap and for standing up for pay equity."
Today's event was moderated by Brenda McDuffie, President & CEO, Buffalo Urban League and featured a diverse panel discussion of prominent Black women leaders, including:
- Franchelle Parker, Executive Director, Open Buffalo
- Rhonda Ricks, President, R+A+R Development
- Charmaine Bowman, Buffalo Chapter President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
- Dr. Karen Jones, Chief Diversity Officer, Buffalo State College
- Lola Brabham, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of Civil Service
- Francesca Mesiah, 2nd Vice President Buffalo NAACP
Earlier this year, a report conducted by New York State on the status of New York women and girls found that a large wage gap between black women and white men still remains. Despite New York having the smallest pay gap of any state in the nation, long-standing societal norms have resulted in African American women earning 64 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic males earn. The report concluded that a multi-faceted approach must be taken to close the wage gap by moving women off of the "sticky floor," instead of the conventional approach of solely targeting the glass ceiling. Governor Cuomo has already set several policies in motion to address economic inequity, including enacting a $15 minimum wage, and banning employers, both public and private, from asking for salary history. Today's forum, and forums like it that will happen across the state will help build on those efforts, offer a regional focus, and develop a holistic approach to fostering more opportunity for African American women across the state.
Brenda McDuffie, President and CEO, Buffalo Urban League, said, "One of the most significant issues for families, businesses and the economy is the wage gap for Black Women. Black women earn 64 cents for every dollar earned by white men; and Black women earn 20 percent less than White women. Throughout New York State and today in Buffalo, the Black Women Pay Equity forum discussion publicly acknowledged this issue, provided solutions and compelled us to take action."
Franchelle Parker, Executive Director, Open Buffalo, said, "Today an important conversation took place, but the real work has only just begun. As a black woman, I believe it's critical to hear our voices and listen to our solutions. The pay gap has a crippling impact, especially in Buffalo, with our staggering poverty rates and number of single mother households. We need policy solutions where all workers and all labor is equally valued. We can ensure this by making sure both public and private businesses under the pay gap, empower unions and collective bargaining and vote for candidates that understand the issues impacting workers- in particular, Black women."
Charmaine Bowman, Buffalo Chapter President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, said, "Pay equity is something that affects us all. As a black woman I know the struggles that black families go through to make ends meet. That is why it is so important that we continue to put this issue in front of the masses so that one day equality and equity will be achieved among all workers."
Lola W. Brabham, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of Civil Service, said, “We can and we must continue to fight to close the wage gap and ensure that every New Yorker is compensated fairly and equally for the work they perform. By working together, New York State will continue to stand up for women’s rights and lead the way for equality.”
Francesca Mesiah, 2nd Vice President, Buffalo NAACP, said, "The NAACP appreciates the Office of the Governor and their role in bringing together collaborative partners to resolve Women's equal pay issue."
Governor Cuomo established the New York State Council on Women and Girls in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the women's suffrage movement. The council provides coordinated responses to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and girls in the State of New York.