Women’s History Month is a reminder that if women’s workplace experiences are provided a platform, their words and actions will be transformative. At the beginning of the pandemic, the she-cession saw a lot of job loss that disproportionately affected women. However, as the job market rebounded, dynamics shifted— evolving into a candidate-driven market. Today, job seekers, particularly women, have the power in employer conversations and are leveraging that power to increase their workplace value. In this historical moment, dubbed “The Great Resignation,” women are protesting with their feet by walking away from their jobs more than any other demographic. Women have flipped the narrative from being disproportionately laid off to leading a candidate-driven market, forcing employers to respond to their needs and creating permanent change.
Etched in the ink of a promise for a better tomorrow, Women's History Month is about the circumstances that have caused many to rise to the occasion and make magic without wands or incantations. Through contemporary mass movements, like #blacklivesmatter and #metoo, women have embraced empowerment to shed light on racism and sexism in the workplace. While the needle of progress has moved, it has not moved nearly enough to overshadow ongoing workplace experiences. For example, Black, Native, and Latinx women make ~40% less than white males and about 20% less than white women. This race and gender wage gap is a stark reflection of how women of color are valued in the workplace. Working in spaces where their labor is undervalued also means that women are placed in the position of constantly having to prove themselves, their reality, and their experiences. If pay gaps predict differential treatment in the workplace, race and gender bias becomes a business expense that is primarily paid for by women of color.
The devaluation of women’s labor translates into an expectation that they are expected to handle emotional workloads that crowd the ability to be creative, productive, and happy. Workplace interactions with colleagues often force women of color to face emotions that are often difficult to understand, let alone, explain. For instance:
“You were slow to respond to emails and distracted on March 14th.
“What happened the day before is of no consequence.”
“Who is Breonna Taylor?”
“You also did not meet your deadlines the week of May 25th.”
“Were you related to George Floyd?”
Without having space in the workplace to address racist events and experiences, women of color are silenced, and subsequently devalued. They are also expected to fulfill their responsibilities all the while balancing everything that’s going on around them.
With the existing pay inequity and the increasing pandemic and work-life stressors in the workplace, it's no surprise that women are leading the charge in resignations. Women of color are revolutionizing the meaning of “I Quit” during this Great Resignation by demanding better, safer, and more emotionally intelligent working environments. Resignations chart destinations far from where C-Suite segregation produces corporate apartheid, effective immediately. This historical moment that we are in has allowed women to empower the future, rather than struggle to arrive. 30 years from now, women of color will be the majority of American workers and they will celebrate the strides made in this moment in time. This movement is an opportunity for companies to participate fully by simply listening to women of color and committing to participate in the healing process of accountability and transparency that they have demanded in saying,’ I Quit.’
The celebration of women’s history must also celebrate the history that women are making by understanding the circumstances that history is being made under. Women’s History is not simply about the first woman to [add infinite item], it is celebrating the challenges they overcame. Why do we celebrate Women’s History? By celebrating, we make stories visible that are hidden in the margin by highlighting voices that have historically been silenced. Women are not simply achieving firsts by leading companies and social movements, they are doing amazing and everyday things against insurmountable odds.