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OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 67

Week #67

'Equal Pay For All - Part II'

Meeting Notes Prepared by Zoë Haddad (Walls Project)

Vivian Broussard Guillory (Director, AAUW of LA)

  • Been a member AAUW for about 20 years (nationwide organization in LA for 100+ years)

  • Mission is advancing equity for women and girls through education, advocacy, research, and philanthropy

  • Defining equal pay/the gender pay gap: comparison of the median salaries of workers (men and women) working full time all year long; sometimes measured yearly, sometimes weekly

  • According to the Bureau of Labor statistics women earned a median income of $42k while men earned $52k in 2020

  • Median earnings for all Louisiana women in 2020 was $37k and $51k for men

  • That’s a pay gap in LA of 28%

  • We have one of the largest pay gaps in the country and it has dire effects for women - it’s one one of the most persistent issues affecting women today

  • Going through the pandemic, compare $51k vs. $ much easier would that make your life? One of the first things we have to do is convince people how important this number really is

  • We can use these numbers to identify how it's impacting different ethnicities - it affects women of color and different ethnicities more

  • It’s important to understand the persistence of this problem and that it affects each one of us

  • The pay gap has gotten smaller over time, from 1960 to 2000, due to gains women have made over pay gap causes (for example, occupational segregation, work patterns, childcare and family care)

  • This pay gap may change with the pandemic because the whole way we work is changing but women have always needed accommodations and many times employers have not been willing to do that

  • Discrimination is another aspect of the pay gap - AAUW did a study looking at males and females one year after college comparing for college major, part of the country, age, etc. and there was already a 7% pay gap one year after graduation

Julie Schwam Harris (Advocate, Louisiana Women’s Policy and Research Commission)

  • We know that women don’t make as much as men for doing similar work and there are a lot of things that contribute to it

  • Not having a family friendly workplace - women are the predominant family caregivers. They need paid sick leave and we do not as a country mandate paid maternity or family leave...We don’t have affordable, quality childcare

  • Women are overrepresented in the lower wage jobs - they have historically been in service jobs and we don’t pay anyone in service jobs enough

  • Girls may or may not be pulled into STEM work which is higher pay - there’s room for growth there but that’s not the be all end all

  • One of the items we’ve talked about is salary history - when you start a new job, what’s the first thing they ask you? What were you making at your old job? Instead of paying you what you’re worth, they’re already calculating how much less they can pay you because you’ll be glad to make anything

  • Violence against women and harassment are other factors - there’s a climate of if you complain, you’re going to get fired

  • One of the aspects we work on the most legislatively is pay secrecy and fighting retaliation for discussing wages

  • You’re told you’re supposed to negotiate for higher wages but you don’t know what’s acceptable. You’re taught by society to not be too brash, too forceful, otherwise you’ll be criticized

  • Many businesses are finding out that it pays to have a more open workplace where people are not afraid to talk about their wages and are not retaliated against if they do ask

  • We often talk about this as male/female but it’s also a race issue - for example, there’s something called a Mommy Penalty and a Daddy Bump. Men are respected and sometimes paid better because they are fathers whereas women having kids is seen as a penalty

  • It’s beneficial for businesses to be more transparent and have better policies on all these issues. There’s less turnover, there’s more productivity, there’s a climate of honesty

  • Action items:

  • If you are a working person or have a business, look at the policies you are working under. Make sure they don’t automatically say you can’t talk about wages in the workplace. The United Way found that they repressed speaking about wages and they’re one of the most progressive organizations working for well being. They changed their policy and their workplace is better for it.

  • Do a self audit. Add it up. Are there differences that can’t really be attributed to productivity?

  • Speak up. Get to know the legislators. Get to know the people who are influencing your work.

Vivian Broussard Guillory

  • According to’s research in 2020, 6 Louisiana metro areas were among the 15 metro areas with the largest wage gap in the nation

  • Houma and Thibodeaux had the largest in the nation with women making $0.59 on the dollar. Lake Charles was fourth with $0.64 on the dollar. Lafayette was fifth with $0.65, Hammond 11th, Baton Rouge 12th, Monroe 14th

  • Large race and gender gaps remain in the US

  • Between Black women wage earners and Black men, there is a pay gap. Between hispanic women and men there is a pay gap. The largest gap is actually in white women and white men. White men and Asian males have the largest earnings.

  • So how do we continue to narrow the gap?

  • Things that have been obstacles do have to do with the fact that the minimum wage is $7.25 and Louisiana has defaulted to it

  • We need to convince people to give others a living wage

  • August 3 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day - that means that last year compared to white male earnings, it took a Black woman all of last year and all the way up to August of this year to earn what comparable male workers were earning

  • There was a union organizer on a story I heard talking about organizing for construction workers - a lot of us have stereotypes about this. We have to open up our minds that women are going into fields that are more male dominated. And the truth is that the more women are in the field the lower the salaries are. That goes to the value of work. Why are we not valuing service work? During this pandemic, some of this will be shifting. People out to be able to make a living wage.

  • There is a lack of support for women who may not have the education or training to go into a field because they need quality childcare. They need paid medical leave. They need to be able to take off some time and still be able to get back to their jobs

  • In terms of takeaways...regarding the gender gap, one way is for women to learn and work and research to pull themselves out of this. Go to and you can research your job, how much you should be making. AAUW does this research and provides free salary negotiating training. Go to I urge everyone to take the training whether you’re in college and starting off, changing jobs...all these problems impact our ability to go to our employer and say “I am not making what my peers are making”.

  • There is federal legislation trying to address some of these issues. If you’re not going to use money to enforce these laws and make corporations and states submit required reports, we need to fully implement these. We need more legislation.

  • In 2013 Louisiana did pass a Pay Equity Act but it only applied to state employees. State and federal employees have a smaller pay gap because of the transparency. Every year since 2000 legislation has been introduced to bring businesses into more transparency and to attack pay secrecy and none of that has really stuck to the wall

  • We need equal pay to apply to the businesses, policies that apply equal pay to contractors, to keep chipping away at it, and we need to raise the minimum wage.

Community Discussion

Julie Harris: We need to get people on the list to help get this fully discussed and vetted to move us forward...we have real specific legislation. It fails frequently but we need more people contacting legislators to get it out of committee. These committees are stacked. We’ve got this one piece of legislation from 2013. But there’s still a need for transparency even in the public workspace. The difference in pay in Louisiana in the private workspace compared to the public workspace is in the 80 cents on the dollar in the public and 60 in private. Just making these laws apply to private workers does not cut it. Reverend Anderson asked a question about, are women paid more fairly in women-owned businesses and I don’t know that. I know many women-owned businesses are small businesses not subject to the federal or state law.

Vivian Guillory: I do know when we go to the legislature they tend to get women lobbyists to come attack us and our bills but I don’t have an answer on any research.

Julie Harris: We tried asking some of those lobbyists if they have paid sick days...they have them at their job but they don't want them for everybody. Or at least they’re being paid to say that.

Leslie Clay (LPHI): I just wanted to ask when people are negotiating their salaries, are they seen as hostile? As opposed to men.

Vivian Guillory: Women do not negotiate nearly as much as men do for salaries. It is very possible in some environments or with some business owners/bosses that asking for a raise is challenging to them. The arguments we run into at the legislature is that this is bad for business and that is not true. Research has shown that in transparent organizations employees feel more valued and are more loyal. States that have raised the minimum wage have not seen the detrimental impacts that the business industry claims is going to happen. AAUW has ways to find accurate information and practice. There are programs for people getting out of college and for people who are working so you can know how to approach this topic in a way that is not seen as aggressive on your part

Julie Harris: I wanted to note that Pam Wall talked about her granddaughters in Arkansas - the wages were raised in Arkansas and they’ve had very positive responses to raising the minimum wage twice now. We know that over 70% of people in this state want a higher minimum wage. But our legislators won’t do it. And the majority of our legislators are elected by entities that don’t want to see it raised. So they’re not voting in the ways their constituents want them to vote.

Reverend Anderson (PREACH): We have a lot of low wage service jobs but because of that it’s not just minimum wage issues. It’s employers specifically making sure workers don’t get more than 30 hours to qualify for benefits. They create jobs that in fact force at the lowest level people to work crazy schedules that require private transportation. There’s a lot of these ancillary issues that drive a lot of women into really bad employment situations. As a state, how do we start focusing on a different kind of work that women can go into and how do we disincentivize employers from these policies? We know they’re pretty pervasive particularly in health care and the service industries that really do penalize women around the issues of the “hidden paycheck”.

Julie Harris: We live in a state with weak protections in general - weak reimbursements for unemployment, rules about who is covered by certain laws...our first equal pay that ended up being state workers was amended to be fifty or above but most businesses are small businesses at less than fifty. They were trying to make the bill before it became only public employment to not apply to most businesses. Things like predictable schedules, if there was some sort of regulation or policy...we as a state do not protect workers period. All of our outcomes show that. We have some of the worst outcomes with healthcare, education, violence against women, violence in general...a lot of it has to do with things not being well in Louisiana. Part of it is trying to work one by one with the legislators you have and make sure they’re on board and that they’re a spokesperson.

Vivian Guillory: Our state is majority women and I feel like we don’t even have women on our side. The Center for American Progress outlines several steps we can take to address the wage gap and one of them is promoting political involvement for women. We have a leadership gap. Women are 51% of the population and 16% of elected officials. We have a population of 20% Black women, but 6% elected Black women officials. It’s a societal impact. Women are not supporting women and we are not supporting our workers.

Pam Wall: I have had a lot of experience with both men and women supervisors and my experience, and I will admit part of it is my aggressive personality...I'm a pushy lady and I do not stay in my lane. So I acknowledge that. But I have always had a much harder time working with women bosses and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm always on of the last ones in the office, I come in on weekends...but male bosses think that's fine while women bosses want to know well why were you here this weekend? It's probably somewhat generational. Maybe younger people don't experience that. Vivian Guillory: I don't know of any research specific to that but I do think people in the workforce of different ages...there is an age group that has the smallest pay gap of the rest of wage earners. I think things are changing and changing slowly. Most women and men are getting used to new perceptions about work and supervision in the field. Julie Harris: There are going to be fluctuations in how bosses are supervising and treat employees. I like Vivian don't know of any studies where women in positions of power are better or worse. There are some people who are better at supervising other people. But what you need to protect you are laws and policies. So regardless of how they are interpreted, you have to be protected by the rules. And the rules are what Louisiana is so bad on...for women, if there were a more level playing field in law, it wouldn't cure everything but it would be one thing to start lowering this gap.

Rachelle Sanderson (CRPCLA): Is this a part of an overall cultural devaluing of women? If so, what would shifting that narrative look like?

Vivian Guillory: Absolutely agree. The jobs that women work on, the more women in the field the lower the wages are. I just think of the fact that housework, service work at $7.25 sounds like slave wages to me.

Julie Harris: We can get into some really interesting discussion of how women and women's work has been undervalued forever. As we have evolved into a capitalist society, the society has not evolved for that kind of differentiation, that standardization if people are working they should be paid. Historically that overlay of racism and what jobs were even covered by minimum wage in the early 20th held by women and people of color weren't covered. So as times have evolved our laws have not evolved as much. And women are just controlled differently - their bodies, their lives...we were a head of household state where women couldn't even have credit cards. We've got a lot of things that have changed but many that have not.

Vivian Guillory: As we look to the future, work is changing. We are certainly not prepared to move our workforce into the 21st century where robotics will take over many of these jobs and we can’t dump on people who haven't been trained ...but the whole image of what work is, where it’s going, it will amaze you because we all have to rethink the value of work and not use it as a weapon and use it to pick winners and losers.

Casey Phillips: Alfredo (Cruz) put it into the chat and Zoë (Haddad) lifted it back up asking if employers or small businesses should invest in management training to help people give those roles both male and female better prepared for salary negotiations? The reality is, you start out a small business as an army of one and then add people one person at a time. So whatever skills you learn on the ground, that can be missed.

Vivian Guillory: I know there are places like that provide tools for small businesses. There are resources available. A lot of small businesses have that choice - either it's in your heart to treat people a certain way or it's just the bottom line and I understand that, too.

Julie Harris: There are self-audit tools. There are a lot of resources especially if you're in a major city. The small business administration under this administration is probably going to ramp back up some the tools that used to be available in the past. I would be happy to try to find a point person for you but self-audits are out there and there's a lot of legal expertise online talking about pay transparency and best practice policies. And all of this is precluded with access to the internet - in a state like Louisiana where huge swaths of our population don't have easy or free can't afford internet on minimum wage.

SK Groll (Baton Roots): I think a lot about, in our work, the organizations, communities, and networks we move in where we're trying to build that better world for the future, how are we modeling that right now in our organizations in the tangible things we do internally? I want to think about this from a nonprofit, state organization, advocacy are we modeling these things, how are we critiquing the ways we project the gender binary onto the conversation even while addressing the historical devaluement of women's work? How are we advocating for racial inequity as people who hold different positional power leverage that so it's not just on women to negotiate but on all people to have this conversation and advocate for transparency, to actually be a colleague and a community member and an ally to people you work with? And I think about this from self-auditing as well as interpersonally on a day to day basis?

Julie Harris: Thank you for bringing up those issues - I'm 69 so I've been working in the area of Women's Rights and Women's Equality for decades. And the last ten/twenty years or so - the issues of people who do not identify as men or women or who are trans and face others issues...those are big issues and there's a lack of knowledge of the non binary way of looking at things. If you see my name, I put my pronouns she/her. And it was only five or so years ago that I started hearing about this. It's not an easy thing to learn to use that naturally but we must in policy learn to use that because the kind of discrimination women have historically faced is also faced racially and in gender identification. I appreciate your bringing it up. If we put in policies about objective criteria about how people are paid and treated as people with leave, with subsidies needed for childcare, with access to nonjudgemental and person-centered healthcare...we've got to work toward that.

Lindi Spalatin (McMains): I'm curious what we can do to encourage employees to talk about salaries among themselves because I think employers really do depend on the fact that they don't talk about it in order to prohibit negotiation, getting value for your work...on our local AFP chapter, in order to post a job on our board you have to put the salary range. It's required now. What can we do to encourage that across the board so people aren't blindly trying to figure out what the value is for their position and their worth?

Julie Harris: We live in a state that has very weak protections for employees. They call it an "at will" state or a "right to work" state. I think "right to work" is a misnomer. The effort to limit the power of unions and the power of workers...we've gone too far overboard. It's really kind of a "right to fire" state. There is some protection...there's federal law geared towards labor organizing. It's not always interpreted to be specific protection for wages and salary. There is not guarantee that you will be protected. We should encourage it and we should encourage people to know the law and talk to their legislators and ask that it be changed. As far as putting salary ranges up, do what you can with businesses that you have influence with.

Boo Milton: Something that really sparked my interest was the predictive schedule. Is that as simple as putting out a schedule that is consistent or is there a strategy behind it?

Reverend Anderson: One of the challenges with different types of businesses is what your work needs are vs. what you staffing requirements are...the schedules primarily given were being given to people to keep them under thirty hours and keep them from getting benefits. They'd get a daily schedule meaning they couldn't plan for childcare, for transportation. Honestly just basic business allocation in terms of how you schedule labor and consistency on how you schedule. If your business doesn't require people to work outside of an 8-5 schedule but you keep scheduling people for those times, you limit the number of people who can take those jobs. Businesses need to be honest about core needs and core responsibilities. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I was an HR manager for 20 years and that's what we looked at. Stability works on both sides. The less stability people have, the less they can meet that. It really is just a foundational skillset of what your real business needs are and when they occur.

Alfreda Tillman Bester: Predictive scheduling really has to do with putting the onus on the employer to give people adequate notice so they could plan their own lives. One other thing I wanted to say is that a lot of our challenges always come back to voting. These things end up being political determinants that are based on a patriarchal society. Many women benefit from these systems being in place and support that mess. I want to put that out there. These things are not in a vacuum. It’s systemic because it benefits some people.

Julie Harris: I know that predictive schedules are one of the issues in places like restaurants, these large businesses that should be able to know when to schedule people. The other issue is misclassification of wages. A lot of businesses will hire contractors that work as if they were employees. There's tests where you can ask is this really an independent contractor or is this an employee? You owe employees certain things. You own the state unemployment insurance if it is an employee. If a business is misclassifying employees, the state is missing out, the employee is missing out and the business is getting away with breaking rules. There's so many aspects to work that some states are doing a better job of establishing protection for their residents...and our state is behind the curve on this and it is evident in all the outcomes we are suffering, including crime. To me, this is how we tackle crime. Until we make families able to thrive, we are never going to be rid of crime. It's not just education and policing. It's a factor of economics.

Pat LeDuff (CADAV): I'm just thinking of the large corporations that hire you as a salary employee and then you work as an hourly employee...the state has come in in some cases to move those jobs to hourly wage jobs and not pay you overtime. We push for hourly wage increase but as some point we have to get a cap on the increase in housing. Housing is out of the roof. With insurance, everyone charged what they wanted to charge and then Medicare came in and set a standard. I feel like we need to do that with rental. We may need to adapt some of that.

Reverend Anderson: I had mentioned to you this morning that EBRP has a new chief public defender Lisa Parker, hopefully she'll be on the call next week. Yesterday a large group of community organizations came together to welcome her. There's been some very powerful work being done on know your rights information specifically for young people. This is available on the website and the EBRPRC has a bail infographic in BREC facilities so people can start understanding these topics. The library is also a resource where people can grab these tools free of charge. It's really important, and I know a lot of people think "I don't have anything to do with the criminal justice system" but we are the 7th I believe grandparents raising grandchildren state because of interaction with the criminal justice system. We have a lot of school folks here who engage with children in the juvenile system and I just want to let everyone know we have those resources available.

Gwen Hamilton: I understand it is often about economics, but we need to make sure that our education programs in our schools are preparing women and girls to be able to deal with these challenges that we talked about this morning. I heard the resources but maybe an opportunity to think about high school girls in particularly getting connected to those resources at an early age, giving them opportunities to speak before the legislature so they can affect change.C. Kelly (EBR Schools): We are having conversations about entrepreneurial course work in our schools - I can m