Want to Be an Advocate for Equity? Here’s How!
If you’re like us, gender and racial equity really matter to you, and waiting on the sidelines isn’t enough. In Illinois, we now have a No Salary History law to help advance pay equity — learn all about it and your rights here! — and that’s a great first step, but we know there’s more to do. There are so many injustices in the world and in the workplace, and you want to take action and make a difference. You want to be on the right side of history.
That’s awesome! We can help you do that! Here are some ways you can raise your voice effectively for change. Because together, we are stronger.
1. Advocate For Yourself and Others at Work.
Despite huge advances in the last five decades, we still have not achieved equity at work. Women are half the U.S. labor force, but we still earn less than men. We’re more than twice as likely to work in jobs with poverty wages. We still face sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Too few of us can take paid time off to care for ourselves and our families. And discrimination based on our race, immigration status, sexual orientation, faith, or disability can intersect with gender discrimination to create additional roadblocks to opportunity. So one important want to advocate for equity is to advocate for change at work!
Know your Rights.
You can’t stand up for your rights in the workplace if you don’t know what they are. From pregnancy rights, to family and medical leave, to workplace harassment, and more, Women Employed has lots of resources to help you learn about your rights on the job, and what you can do if those rights are violated. Read them, learn them, know them.
Advocate for Yourself.
Do you think your rights are being violated at work? Read our fact sheets to find out, and to learn what you can do about it.
Is your employer meeting their legal requirement, but you feel they could be doing more? Talk to your boss or your HR department about ways they can advance gender and racial equity at work — from implementing anti-harassment policies, to conducting annual pay audits to identifying wage gaps, to implementing forward-thinking supports like paid family and medical leave or subsidized child care, there is so much employers can do above and beyond the basics of the law.
And don’t forget to share our resource with practical actions employers can take to advance pay equity.
Advocate for Others.
You know what they say — if you see something, say something. If you see someone else’s workplace rights being violated — if they are being harassed, if they’re facing workplace discrimination, or if they are being denied a benefit they are legally entitled — don’t just sit back. Talk to that person — check that they are okay. Make sure they know their rights are being violated and what they can do about it. Show them our Rights on the Job fact sheets. If you feel safe doing so, intervene to remove that person from an unsafe or uncomfortable situation, and/or talk to their boss or to Human Resources to alert them of the situation.
2. Advocate With Your Elected Officials. Here’s How.
When we pass good laws, or improve existing ones, we can change the lives of thousands — even millions — of people all at once. But legislative change doesn’t happen on its own. It happens when people demand it. Elected officials need to hear from people in their districts. So speak up, speak out, and demand change!
Don’t Just Email. Call Your Elected Officials.
We’re all used to sending emails. But a phone call carries more weight. While your email will get counted and filed, when you call, somebody in your elected official’s office has to listen to you — your voice, your concerns, your good wishes, your humanity.
And when a lot of people call? Well, that’s a lot of time your elected officials and their staffers have to spend listening. It’s enough to change hearts and minds. It’s enough to get things done.
Here Are Some Tips to Make Your Calls Effective:
- Be prepared. Think through what you want to say ahead of time so that you can say it clearly when you call
- Know that your elected official will not be the person on the phone. You will most likely talk to one of their aides or staffers, and that’s ok. They will register your opinion and convey it to your elected official.
- Let them know you are a constituent. Elected officials will pay most attention to people living in their districts. Make sure to give your city and state, and even your street address if you live in a large city.
- Be clear about what issue you’re calling about. If you are calling in support or opposition to a bill, it helps to know, and provide, the bill number and name. If you’re calling about an issue, be able to specifically describe the topic. State your opinion clearly.
- Be brief. You will probably be more effective if you keep your call short.
- It’s ok to leave a message, either on a voicemail or with a receptionist. Just state the information you prepared, including that you’re a constituent.
- If calling gives you anxiety, here’s a “shy person’s step-by-step guide” for calling your elected officials.
Don’t Forget Your Local Officials!
We talk a lot about national politics, but some of the biggest changes happen at the state and local levels. Cities and states across the country have raised minimum wages, passed earned sick time bills, enacted paid family and medical leave, secured pregnancy discrimination protections, and implemented fair pay measures while federal action on those issues has stalled. And those state and local changes have improved the lives of MILLIONS. And because your state and local officials have fewer constituents, each voice they hear carries that much more weight.
Need to Find Your Officials?
Here’s a great tool for finding both your federal and state officials. For local officials, check your municipal website.
p.s. Do you have a great congressperson who always does the right thing? Take time to call them too! Share your concerns. Tell them what they’re getting right. Thank them and ask them to keep fighting the good fight. Even the ones you agree with need to hear from you!
3. Advocate With Your Friends and In Your Community.
If you believe in equity, stand up for it with the people around you. You may find new allies in the fight! And together, we are stronger.
Make Noise on Social Media.
Social media amplifies your voice and gets your message in front of a larger audience. It’s a powerful tool. Use it to do good!
If you care about an issue, post about it on your social networks. Share posts from your favorite organizations. (*ahem* Women Employed is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.) Find and share articles from quality sources (watch out for and avoid untrustworthy content). Tell people why it matters to you.
Even better? Tweet at your elected officials, or post on their Facebook pages. (Live in Illinois? Here is a list of Illinois state legislators on Twitter.) Social media is a big megaphone and a way to make your communication with an elected official public. Use it.
Make Noise in Real Life, Too!
While online activism is vital for building a movement, there is no replacement for boots on the ground.
There are always opportunities to turn up and make your voice heard, through events like protests against the detainment of immigrant families, and rallies to raise the minimum wage. There will undoubtedly be plenty more chances to march, rally, and make noise about the issues that matter to you. Watch for them and join with other advocates when you can!
Get Your Friends Involved.
There is strength in numbers. So get your friends to join the fight. There are many ways for them to be allies, whether it’s taking action on an issue, joining you at a rally, volunteering their time for a worthy cause, donating to an organization doing good work, or even just talking to their friends about the issues. Get them involved to help build the movement!
Have a book club, church group, or other crowd that you want to mobilize? We can help! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312–782–3902 x224.
BONUS: Share these tips and visit womenemployed.org/act for more!
We have a ton of actions you can take right now, and every one of them will make a difference. Visit now. Visit often.
Written by Judy Miyashita, Director of Marketing and Engagement