Achieving Equity at Work

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Emancipation Day is a holiday celebrated in the District of Columbia to commemorate the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862. Abraham Lincoln, who was the president at that time, freed more than 3000 slaves in the District of Columbia with the signing of a document that offered compensation to slave owners for loss of their “human property”. On July 12, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a second Compensation Act to give former slaves the right to petition “reimbursement for their own value” and reimbursement of funds they used to free family members. However, this retribution could not be claimed by former slaves if their former “masters” received compensation ( ). Does this sound familiar? 

When I think about the many freedoms our ancestors fought to attain and those that we are still fighting for today, the freedom to earn fair wages is one that we must contend for to advance our families and communities in our diverse employment fields.

I have filled him with the Spirit of GOD, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts (Exodus 31:3).

As children of GOD, our Father has given us His Spirit, wisdom, and diverse abilities. In a time when unemployment rates are high, those who are employed are blessed to have income on a consistent basis. Likewise, employers are blessed to have people who share their values and solve their problems. Therefore, it is our right to be compensated for the problems that we solve. Our wages should not differ from a colleague who is male or of a different race. While there are laws that support our right to earn fair wages, history has taught us that we, as African Americans, especially, African American women, must educate our employers and colleagues how to value us. I am going to share two things you can do to help educate your employers and colleagues:

1.     Use your time to increase your knowledge and sharpen your professional skills. 

Set goals for yourself that challenge the status quo. Use your time to increase your knowledge and sharpen your professional skills. Then demonstrate that knowledge and implement those new skills until you inspire your colleagues to learn and grow and/or outgrow your current position. Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). This is a promise from GOD. Some people may be racist or sexist, but it is difficult to ignore highly competent people who positively impact environments and who know and fight for their worth.

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

2. Communicate your expectations for compensation with your employers.

Our wages should be commensurate to our education level, skill level, certifications, and experience and it is imperative that we communicate our expectations for compensation with our employers. What happened to the former slaves in the District of Columbia who did not petition to receive wages for themselves? They did not get paid. Use your voice to advocate for yourself and others who may not be in a position to advocate for themselves.

If you find yourself in an environment where the valuation of your knowledge and skills do not equate to fair wages, exercise your freedom to find another job and then leave.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

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