Diversity encompasses a wide range of identities, such s gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, culture, religion, country of origin, and political perspectives. On the other hand, social justice is built on the belief that everyone deserves equal social, political, and economic rights, opportunity, and access. Social justice calls for fairness, equity, respect for diversity, and eradicating oppression. Diversity and social justice are significant concepts in ensuring that people from different backgrounds are treated equally and given equal opportunities in various aspects of life. One of the current diversity and social justice concerns is the wage gap, a significant concern in many countries. The wage gap is the difference in earnings between two groups of individuals, often categorized based on race, gender, or ethnicity. The contexts will present the wage gap as a global diversity and social justice issue.
Wages Gap as a Diversity and Social Justice Concern
As a Gender Concern
According to the United Nations news, women are highly concentrated in lower-paid and low-skilled work. The International Labor Organization (2022) also stated that on an average monthly income, women are paid about 20 cents less than men. Figure 1 below illustrates the mean gender pay gap in monthly earnings in some high-income countries, according to the International Labor Organization. In addition, women are under-presented in decision-making roles in the workplace as they occupy junior positions, with men occupying the most senior position. Based on the natural role of women, they are also most likely to carry out at least 2.5 times more unpaid labor than men (United Nations, 2022). The report also indicated that the Covid 19 pandemic significantly affected women in terms of income security and representation (United Nations, 2022). The pandemic significantly impacted women’s employment, threatening to reverse decades of progress toward ensuring gender equality. However, as countries recover from the Covid19 crisis, they are taking action to address gender equality setbacks, which are relevant and vital to ensure inclusivity, resilience, and sustainable recovery.
Mean gender pay gaps on monthly earnings of selected countries in high-income groups (International Labor Organization, 2022)
Wages Gap across Race and Ethnicities
Racial minorities have been experiencing a lot of oppression and discrimination since the colonial period. Despite the effort to ensure equality in the U.S., a substantial discriminatory earning gap still exists among various populations (Desmond & Emirbayer, 2019). Studies have shown that Black women and men still earn less than their White counterparts. PayScale survey that analyzed data from a sample of 1.8 million White men and men of color employees from January 2017-February 2019 (Miller, 2022). Indicated that African American men are likelier to make less despite climbing the corporate ladder than white men. On average, a Black man earns 87 cents for every dollar a White man earns. Hispanic workers also earn 91 cents for every dollar a White man earns. However, Asian men typically earn $1.15 for every dollar earned by the white male worker (Miller, 2022)
However, women of color are disproportionately affected by the wage gap. As discussed earlier, women are paid less than their male counterparts, but women of color are paid even less. For instance, African American women are paid 64%, and Hispanic women are paid 57% of what non-Hispanic men are paid (Glynn & Boesch, 2022). African and Hispanic women have the largest wage gap compared to other women as compared to White non-Hispanic men.
In 2020, The U.S. Census collaborated with the Women’s Bureau to analyze the gender pay gap. The data showed that the wage gap between men and women could not be explained through measurable differences such as education, age, work hours, or industry (Glynn & Boesch, 2022). The data indicated a greater likelihood that these differences result from discrimination. Through industry and occupational segregation, some gender, racial, or ethnic groups are over-presented in certain jobs and under-presented in others.
The wage gap can be addressed through affirmative action and policies that promote diversity and social justice by ensuring that individuals from different backgrounds are given equal opportunities in the workplace. Affirmative actions are based on equal opportunities, a significant concept in diversity and social justice (Desmond & Emirbayer, 2019). Equal opportunity means everyone should be given fair chances regardless of age, gender, race, or ethnicity (Desmond & Emirbayer, 2019). Another way to address the wage gap is through education and training to help reduce discrimination and occupational segregation by providing individuals from different backgrounds with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in different jobs. Education and training can help reduce discrimination by creating awareness and understanding of diversity and social justice issues. Through educating people about the importance of diversity and social justice, they become aware of the impacts of discrimination and take steps to address it.
The wage gap is a diversity and social justice issue that affects people of different backgrounds, especially women of color. Women are paid less than their male counterparts, and people of color are paid less than their white counterparts. Wages gap is attributed to factors such as discrimination and occupational segregation. However, this issue can be addressed by implementing policies promoting workplace diversity and social justice. Another solution is through education and training to create awareness of diversity and social justice issues. Through education, people can understand the impacts of discrimination and take necessary steps to minimize them.
Desmond, M., & Emirbayer, M. (2019). Race in America (p. 576). WW Norton, Incorporated.
Glynn, S. J., & Boesch, D. (2022, March 15). Connecting the dots: “Women’s work” and the wage gap. U.S. Department of Labor Blog. https://blog.dol.gov/2022/03/15/connecting-the-dots-womens-work-and-the-wage-gap
International Labor Organization. (2022). Understanding the gender pay gap. International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_dialogue/—act_emp/documents/publication/wcms_735949.pdf
Miller, S. (2020, August 7). Black workers still earn less than their white counterparts. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/compensation/pages/racial-wage-gaps-persistence-poses-challenge.aspx
United Nation. (2022, September 21). Closing gender pay gaps is more important than ever. U.N. News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/09/1126901