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Latina Equal Pay Day | OP-ED

On average, Latinas earn 57 cents to every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic man.  

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We choose October 21st as Latina Equal Pay Day, because it would take until today for a Latina to earn what a white male counterpart earned in 2020.  That’s almost 10 months more to make the same amount of money.

The Hispanic community’s belief in the American Dream has given us purpose, a path and progress.  In the past 10 years, the number of Latinas with college degrees has doubled. We are getting better jobs, finding careers that we love, taking on bigger and better challenges all the time.  

Yet despite the upward mobility, the pay gap remains and, in fact, gets wider. The more education a Latina has, the higher the pay gap.  Latinas with advanced degrees have the highest gap when compared to men at the same level.  And this is often difficult to navigate, because as Latinas move up the ranks at a company, the support and community narrows.  It is, quite literally, lonelier at the top with fewer Latinos as peers and fewer people offering support and mentorship. 

Research undertaken by H Code, We Are All Human Foundation and Hispanic Star examined the perceptions and misconceptions about the Hispanic community.  In general, some stereotypes persist.  Most groups are likely to underestimate the percentage of Hispanics that are citizens or legal residents — it’s well over 80%.  Negative stereotypes still persist, though over 75% of respondents overwhelmingly agree that Hispanics are making a positive impact in the United States, including economic contributions.  Though it is likely that most people are not aware that Hispanics are the muscle of the middle class and fueling economic growth in the United States. 

But the most startling finding of our study was the perception of Latinas. Overall, people characterized Latinos as hard-working, family-oriented, happy, proud and responsible. But when asked about Latinas, the descriptions were “beautiful, sexy and loud.” There were absolutely no associations beyond appearance attributed to Latinas.  Perceptions like these complicate the problem, but give us direction. How can Latinas be taken seriously in the workplace when they are viewed as window dressing?  

In the path to realize not only diversity and inclusion but also the goal of equity, changing perceptions is a real priority and one that our Foundation champions every day through the collective actions of Hispanic Star.   

We have just seen in the past month that Hispanic Heritage Month is being institutionalized in Corporate America in ways that create real social impact. More and more companies are coming on board, and we are seeing not only a change in perception but real programs that celebrate, support and advance employees, as well as significant involvement in Hispanic communities designed to help accelerate the progress of all Hispanics.  

One thing remains true. When Latinos unite around progress we find our strength, we use our voice, we find inventive solutions. Today, Latinas are finding strength together, the strength to transform change across America — and we will keep moving forward together.  

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