Where are Black Female Leaders? Challenging the Gender and Race Bias in Grocery Cooperatives

Where are Black Female Leaders? Challenging the Gender and Race Bias in Grocery Cooperatives

  |  January 21, 2021

The Columinate study of the Cooperative General Manager Compensation Database has uncovered a pay gap between male and female General Managers (GM) in food Co-ops.  A pay gap exists for males and females across industries.[1]  While it may not be surprising that female GM’s are paid less than male GM’s, it is still alarming. The study has made gender bias at grocery cooperatives obvious.

This study uncovers another issue. The data set is primarily white and exposes the racial bias within the cooperative food spaces. There are few Black, Indigenous, People of color (BIPOC) GMs in leadership at food co-ops. There are even fewer Black females in GM positions. The pay gap study is an example of how race and gender operate to keep women’s workplace progress.

This moment in history is intersectional. Black women are at the intersection of sexism and racism. Black women face distinct forms of discrimination, which is compounded when a woman experiences both simultaneously. Intersectional discrimination perpetuates racial and gender wealth gaps.

The data regarding BIPOC GMs, and specifically Black Women GM’s, is not available.  This isn’t an excuse to overlook its impact on the cooperative workplaces. An examination of national data will reveal how the pay gap between white males and white females also impacts Black Women.

  • The pay gap is also a wealth gap. The median white household wealth had about $171,000 to the median Black household’s wealth at $17,000.[2]

  • White women make 79 cents compared to a dollar earned by a white man, and Black women make 65 cents.[3]

  • In 2017, the median annual earnings for full-time, year-round Black women workers was just over $36,000—an amount 21 percent lower than that of white women.[4]

  • Eighty percent of Black mothers are breadwinners in their families.[5]

  • It takes Black women 19 months to take home what white men take home in 12 months.[6]

  • Black women are the largest racial group that represent full-time minimum-wage workers [7]

Pay inequity did not happen overnight, and it will not end without deliberate effort on the part of co-op boards and managers. Grocery co-ops must take deliberate steps to address race and gender bias in the workplace. Equity can be achieved by committing to a path that includes the following:

  • Become conscious of bias in the workplace. Recruit beyond your network

  • Go beyond training. Implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion projects

  • Collect data. Track pay and race at your co-op

  • Go from ally to accomplice. Use your network to close the race and gender pay gap

  • Be a coach. Provide coaching support for women managers and current GM’s









Learn more about the Gender Equity Project here. 

About the Author

LaDonna Sanders Redmond

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Trainer...


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