Image by Natalia Angarita
On November 20th, 2019, Latina workers will have finally caught up to what their white male counterparts made in 2018. Latinas earn approximately 54 cents on the dollar of White men, which means they experience the largest gender wage gap, causing them to work an additional 11 months to make what White men make. What makes this even harder to swallow is that Latinas are typically heads of their households. From my experience, if they don’t have a family of their own, they are assisting their extended family. As a result, the wage gap doesn’t only impact the individual, it affects their family.
In order to reduce the wage gap, the answer is systemic change in government policies and corporate responsibility. As individuals, we can take action towards making these changes, starting with normalizing conversations about fair pay.
I grew up in a Latinx household where money was often discussed in a negative way but I realize that might not be the case for all Latinx families. Money is seldom discussed because in Latinx culture it’s seen as profoundly immoral and evil. We’d assume there’s no way rich people are living happy and healthy lives. We take pride in having less, struggling more, while prioritizing our happiness.
In my career, negative beliefs about money—from my upbringing—have impacted my ability to negotiate salaries or created limited goals for my potential accomplishments.
On Latina Equal Pay Day, I want to challenge us to normalize these financial conversations and encourage us to do the following:
Talk about the wage gap - You would be surprised how many people are unaware about the wage gap between White men and women of color. The Equal Pay Day most people have heard about is exclusive to White women. Black, Native American and Latinx women experience their Equal Pay Day(s) well into the second half of the year. The more we have these conversations with our family, friends, and colleagues, the more people will know about this discrepancy Latinas face.
Share your salary - I’m not saying you should go around shouting your salary in people’s faces, but let’s get over this taboo once and for all. Sharing your salary will encourage others to share theirs. Awareness of salaries of peers in different industries might inspire people to look for jobs in other fields. Knowing the salary of a peer in your position at a different company will help you draft your promotion request. When you leave a company, share your salary with the employees staying there. It gives the employee stepping into your role an advantage. If you don’t have someone to talk to about salaries in your industry or role, visit PayScale and Glassdoor.
Be/Find a Mentor - Be the person you wish you had when you were starting in your career. Not sure where to find a mentee? Look around you: you’re probably already offering someone support. You can also look to non-profit organizations that focus on mentoring professionals. For instance, I volunteer with American Needs You, a non-profit organization fighting for economic mobility for ambitious, first-generation college students, that matches you with a student for the two-year program. If you’re like me and still haven’t found a mentor, don’t force it. In the meantime, find the advice you need from your peers, podcasts, books, and online magazines.
Be/Find a Sponsor - This differs from a mentor because a sponsor doesn’t necessarily provide career advice or meet with you on a regular basis. For example, a sponsor is someone who will vouch for you when you aren’t in the room by suggesting you for a job opportunity. Unlike a mentorship, you might not be in regular communication or know that someone is your sponsor. By exposing yourself to leaders in your company, making your value known, and taking advantage of opportunities, you’ll be available for sponsorship. If you’re in a position to be a sponsor, do it. In the end, their success will reflect positively on you.
Let’s be real, these tips aren’t going to close the wage gap. What they do provide is an opportunity to have these conversations so we feel more equipped in our career journeys.