Latina Equal Pay Day needs more recognition
Latina Equal Pay Day sheds light on a much-needed national conversation.
Women, specifically Latinas are historically undervalued and underpaid. This is widely known, but almost never spoken about.
On June 10, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy and made it illegal for employers to unfairly pay men and women working the same or similar job different wages based solely on sex.
To no surprise, in spite of the act passing 57 years ago, the wage gap between men and women still exists. It is a bigger gap if you are a woman, and a minority, in this case, Latinas.
In reflection, Latinas earn 54 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white male makes. If that sounds downright insulting, that’s because it is.
Latinas earn just 55 cents for every $1 earned by white, non-Hispanic males.
In NJ, we’re leading the fight for equal pay:
Nation’s strongest equal pay law
Path to a $15/hr minimum wage
Ban on employers asking about workers’ wage and salary histories
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) October 29, 2020
According to Forbes, one in five Latinas make up the U.S.’s entire woman population. These same women are now seeking higher education at outstanding rates and founding women-owned businesses that acted as a surge to the U.S. economy before COVID-19.
Despite the growth in education levels and entrepreneurial spirit, there is still the divide in equal pay no matter the industry, age, career length, education level, or location.
However, there are nonprofit organizations that tackle this unfair work life and imagine a world where Latinas can reach their full potential. The Hispanic Alliance for Career Advancement (HACE) is one that holds programs aimed to grow Latinas professionally by doing one-on-one coaching and leadership assessments.
Patricia Mota, the President, and CEO of HACE celebrated the day with a message of hope.
“The gap is real and has a major impact on Latinas and the overall economy,” she wrote. “October 29, 2020, is the day when Latinas catch up to the pay of white men from the previous calendar year of 2019. Meaning it took 668 days for a Latina to catch up to what a white male counterpart earned in 365 days!”
She added that COVID-19 is further widening that gap, and more resources in these times are essential to stop its growth and eventually close. The Pew Research Center reported that due to the pandemic, Hispanic women saw a steep incline in layoffs with a 21% job loss.
As for advice? Mota shared an experience that resonates with much of the Latina community and the necessity to overcome some of what it teaches.
“We are taught to be grateful for the opportunities offered, to be humble,” she said. “And as first-generation professionals, we do not have access to the proper role models and guidance to navigate the workforce, much less discuss salary negotiations.”
Role models and mentors are vital and salary negotiations need to be done with confidence in one’s own worth.
In Fortune, actress America Ferrera also wrote about the extreme disparity today. Before addressing the topic, she made sure every Latina reading knew of their own worth.
“Our value and our worth isn’t determined by our employers. Our value comes from the countless contributions we make in society, from our drive and our commitment, our passions and experiences, and the fact that we are human—no more and no less than anyone else.” Ferrera wrote, continuing that even though we are failed by not receiving recognition or being fairly compensated, the contributions Latinas give to society do not diminish our value.
Ferrera stressed that during this year’s pandemic, not only have Latinas lost their jobs significantly more than other races in the states, but they have also been the frontline workers. The essential workers who continued to risk their lives in order to keep their family safe and at home, without the luxury of an option.
#LatinaEqualPayDay is not only about earnings, it is about the recognition of being valued, respected, and treated as an equal. Because we are.