RICHMOND, Va. – Multiple businesses throughout Virginia will participate in Equal Pay Day on April 4, 2017 by offering women a 21% discount on products.
The date symbolically represents how far into the year women must work to earn what men did in 2016, according to Progress Virginia, who has organized events in Norfolk, Northern Virginia and Richmond.
Since 1996 the National Committee of Pay Equity has compiled pay data from professional organizations, individuals and unions, according to a representative at Progress Virginia. Based on that data, the organization concludes that on average, women are paid 80 cents to every $1 earned by a man.
That average drops for women of color, according to Progress Virginia, who said African American women earn 60 cents for every $1, and Latina women earn 52 cents for every $1.
Brewer’s Café in Manchester and Chop Suey Book in Carytown plan to participate on Tuesday, April 4.
Ward Tefft, who owns the bookstore, said he plans to extend the 21% discount to everybody. Tefft pointed out that pay inequity extends across race and class lines, not just gender. He pointed out that the cycle of poverty is systemic, and that many workers struggle with cost of living increases that are met with increased wages.
Chop Suey, who Tefft said “wears their political heart on their sleeve,” was happy to participate in the day of action, and hope that awareness and education can establish pay equity for all. Tefft also recommended the book “Evicted,” by Matthew Desmond, for an understanding of the growing gap between incomes and housing costs.
A.J. Brewer, who owns Brewer’s Café, spent time on Wall Street before quitting corporate America in pursuit of a job which brought fulfilment to his life. He considers Equal Pay Day a great way to bring awareness to the wage gap.
“There are entire communities that don’t know about this,” he said of the wage gap. “I don’t know how to solve it, I am just trying to bring awareness to it.”
“I would love to see more women be more progressive about having these discussions,” he said. “You can change the rate of pay when you negotiate, if you go in to the situation knowing what you are worth.”
“It is a two-street to fix this problem and this is one part of it,” Brewer said.
The National Committee on Pay Equity asked people to wear red to represent how far “in the red” women and minorities are. Progress Virginia will be at locations across the Commonwealth, greeting cusomers and provididng literature about the event. They encouraged people to contact their legislators and representatives and ask for legislation to ensure equal pay for women.