Close your eyes and take a moment to let your mind play Everyday People by Sly & The Family Stone. (If you don’t know Sly or his family, we won’t judge you, but do visit YouTube and listen to the song; you’ll be glad you did.)
I am everyday people.
These three women are also everyday people; everyday people who are using their circumstances, their talents, and their tenacity to work toward an America without a gender-based wage gap.
After 22 years working as a school safety agent, Kangela Moore earned less than $40,000 per year, while her male counterparts were averaging a salary of $7,000 more per year.
In 2010, Moore was part of a lawsuit that was filed against New York City on behalf of 5,000 school safety agents (the majority whom were female) who were earning significantly less than male security personnel with similar job duties, expectations, and training.
Moore stood up at a rally in 2014 on behalf of her colleagues and publicly called for New York City Mayor de Blasio to fulfill a campaign promise to settle the lawsuit addressing the pay disparity.
The suit was subsequently settled, and the Teamsters Local 237 reached a new labor agreement that included raises for underpaid staff. A total of $38 million was awarded to reimburse workers for previous pay disparities (about $7,600 per complainant), and New York City committed to invest $47 million in subsequent years to reach parity.
Moore’s community leadership has continued; in March the Friends of Brookville Park, a volunteer organization she founded, received a top honor for their work in improving and maintaining a 90-acre park in Queens, and this month she was appointed to the Queens Community Board.
California’s Fresno County Office of Education hired Aileen Rizo in 2009 to train instructors on the best ways to teach math. Three years later she learned that a male colleague with less experience and education had started his position at a significantly higher rate due to a policy that determined incoming employee pay based on salary history.
For almost six years Rizo has fought in the courts against the perpetuation of wage inequity through basing compensation on prior salary history. On April 9, the day before national Equal Pay Day, she won her ruling against Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino, who had defended the compensation policy.
Rizo is currently running for California State Assembly District 23.
In 2013, Lauren McGoodwin launched Career Contessa, an online platform developed to assist women in each step of their career searches, choices, and professional development. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, McGoodwin said “I created the company that I wish existed.”
Career Contessa offers three 28-Day Career Kickstart programs to help women find jobs, learn new skills, and make more money. These digital opportunities include content and assignments designed to stimulate and inform. Other services include career coaching, webinars, online courses, job listings, and company profiles. Some of the services are free, and some cost a flat fee. Naturally, equal pay is a central theme in Career Contessa content, and if you search the website for those two words, you’ll find a wealth of resources.
McGoodwin’s newest venture is the Salary Project, which will provide data to help people determine what a fair wage would be for a specific job type and level of seniority. This effort to pull together and share data will undoubtedly create more salary transparency.
It’s clear that none of these trailblazers are finished with their work to improve the lives of those around them. There are millions of everyday people making a substantial difference in the world; let’s acknowledge them, share their stories, and draw inspiration from them.
If you have a suggestion for another topic where everyday people are making a difference, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.