Charlotte A. Burrows, Commissioner of EEOC, Speaks at Marist Social Justice Conference

On Friday, September 13, Marist hosted its inaugural Explorations in Social Justice Conference. To end the day, Jane McManus, Director of the Center for Sports Communications, sat down at center stage in the Nelly Goletti Theater with keynote speaker Charlotte A. Burrows. Though a talk with Burrows, the Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), may not sound like it has a sports angle, the recent conversations surrounding equal pay in sport became a focus. 

The talk centered around unequal pay in the workplace based specifically on gender and race. As to be expected, McManus asked Burrows a question regarding the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and their current, very public battle for equal pay. 

When McManus brought up the chants of “equal pay” that followed the women’s win at the World Cup, Burrow’s replied, “as a civil rights worker who loves soccer, that was amazing.” Burrows went on to discuss how women in sports have to fight very hard for equal pay while performing at the same level or often higher levels as their male counterparts. “Every woman had to be Jackie Robison all the time,” she said in regards to female athletes. 

McManus also questioned Burrows on how the topic of unequal pay is relevant to students who have not yet entered the workforce. Burrows gave the students in attendance advice on how to combat this directly from the start. She did so through real stories of how EEOC had helped former students dealing with pay inequality. 

The EEOC, which celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2015, educates and assists Americans in receiving equal pay for the jobs that they do. Burrows was recently unanimously re-elected for a second term as the commissioner through the year 2023. 

The talk ended with a Q&A session during which Marist faculty, staff, and students asked questions regarding unpaid internships, accountability, and what she likes about her job. To put it simply, she gets to wake up and “it’s [her] job to help people.” What more could one ask for? 

Edited by Will Bjarnar 

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