Serena Williams is the epitome of a role model. Since she was a teenager, she's been whooping ass in the world of sports, and now she's here to give her advice on whooping ass in the workforce. In honour of Black Women's Equal Pay Day, the 35-year-old mother-to-be penned a powerful essay for Forbes titled "How Black Women Can Close the Pay Gap," which gives insight into the troubling truth surrounding the gender pay gap, especially for women of colour.
Williams starts the essay by sharing a hard-to-hear statistic: "Black women are 37 cents behind men in the pay gap—in other words, for every dollar a man makes, black women make 63 cents." From there, she gets personal. As a Black female athlete, she has dealt with setbacks her whole career (and it's literally still happening). "Growing up, I was told I couldn’t accomplish my dreams because I was a woman and, more so, because of the colour of my skin," she writes. "In every stage of my life, I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself and speak out. I have been treated unfairly, I’ve been disrespected by my male colleagues and—in the most painful times—I’ve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court. Luckily, I am blessed with an inner drive and a support system of family and friends that encourage me to move forward. But these injustices still hurt."
Acknowledging her own outstanding financial success and business prowess, Williams says she plans to use her influential position as a board member for Survey Monkey to promote equal pay and see that the gap is closed as soon as possible. "I want to bring my perspective and experiences as an athlete, an entrepreneur and a black woman to the boardroom and help create a more inclusive environment in this white, male-dominated industry," she writes. "And I want every woman of colour to do the same. Every step forward you take is two steps of progress for womankind. Let today serve as a reminder that we have a voice. We deserve equal pay for our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our nieces, friends, and colleagues—but mostly, for ourselves."
Williams ends her thousand-word article with this powerful statement: "Black women: Be fearless. Speak out for equal pay. Every time you do, you’re making it a little easier for a woman behind you." She also shared a photo of herself wearing a shirt reading "PHENOMENAL WOMAN" on Twitter.
Like Williams, we at Refinery29 also want more for women. Read more about the gender pay gap and what you can do to help close it too, here.