Can your startup solve pay inequality between races?

An article recently published in CNN Money exposes a dismal reality: Wage inequality between blacks and whites has hit a 40-year record high. According to the article, in 2015 whites made an average of $25.22 an hour; blacks made an average of $18.49 an hour. The figures were published in a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Perhaps the most disturbing news to emerge from the study is that access to education and geography have less to do with the problem than discrimination and what the EPI calls “growing earnings inequality in general.” According to the report, black men with at least a bachelor’s degree and 11 to 20 years of experience still earned 27.2% less than whites with the same level of education and experience. In other words, blacks who suffered pay inequality early in their careers likely haven’t seen things change even as they’ve advanced their education and experience.

If we are assuming that everyone has the ability to perform a set of responsibilities with the same amount of competence, why are we not seeing equal pay for everyone performing the same job? More importantly, how do we stop pay inequality from continuing its grip on a specific group of individuals?

Big business may still be struggling with the answer to the latter question, but small business has a wonderful opportunity to reveal the answer and actually make it happen. As entrepreneurs or supporters of entrepreneurial talent, you recognize that success evolves through a workforce (be it large or small) that together supports the bottom line of a business. This is critical for a new company to get off the ground and reach its greatest heights.

For this reason, it is imperative to look at knowledge, experience and, above all, drive as the key factors in determining potential employees. Their name, where they live and their socioeconomic status should have no bearing on their capabilities and their value.

As one who supports or has been involved with startups, you know better than anyone the gratitude that is felt when someone believes in you and your vision. If you are in a position to hire employees for a nascent business, extending that positive attitude toward those who will work for you in the form of equal compensation will be an ideal way to pay it forward. Not only will you be doing your part to bridge the chasm between races, you will also give someone a sense of having truly reached their professional goals.