Latina Equal Pay Day is the time of year when the average Latina’s pay finally reaches the amount the average white, non-Hispanic man earned the YEAR PRIOR. Let’s dissect that even more closely. Since Latina Equal Pay Day falls on October 21st this year, this means it took from January 1st, 2020, up to October 21st, 2021 for an average Latina to obtain the same amount that her white male counterpart made from January 1st, 2020 to January 1st, 2021. That’s a difference of 294 days.
Latinas are still lagging behind the curve when it comes to wage increases. Latinas are still cut off from accessing capital for a small business. These hard workers are still seeing their efforts go unappreciated in all too many cases. The problem has become so severe that many outside the Latina community have begun to take notice, pointing out that closing the wage gap for this segment of society will have follow-on benefits that will ultimately help everyone, no matter what their ethnic identity or societal status.
Why We Should Be Talking About The Pay Gap
The average Latina makes 54 cents on every dollar the average white man makes. That makes the gap between their wages 46 cents. Recent reports have pointed out that women on average only make 81% of what their male counterparts earn, and according to recent audits performed in Minnesota, Latinas make the least from women of all races.
(Numbers are based on every $1.00 the average white, non-Hispanic man makes compared to their counterparts of women of all races)
• White Female: $0.78
• Asian American Female: $0.77
• African American Female: $0.61
• Native American Female: $0.55
• Latin/Hispanic Female: $0.54
According to experts who study compensation and pay, the purpose of Latina Equal Pay Day is to highlight the enormous pay disparities between Latina and Hispanic workers, especially women, and their white male counterparts. Far from being just a Latina problem, this discrepancy in pay should concern everyone, as it ripples throughout the entire economy.
Statistics show that white men have the lowest unemployment rate, with only 6.14%, while the unemployment rate for Latinas is at 9.58%. We could argue, Latinas aren’t getting the same opportunities as their white male counterparts. There is a wage gap, but it’s safe to assume an opportunity gap causes the interval mentioned above.
Latinas not getting the chance to apply for the same jobs means they are not getting the same training; as a result don’t get promoted at the same rate. White males are reaching heights in different careers that Latinas barely have the opportunity to vie for. We can then deduce that this raises the sum of all white men’s earnings, thus increasing the average white male’s earnings.
That enormous wage gap is a stark reminder that on the whole Latinas make just 55 cents for every dollar non-Hispanic white men earn. To make matters even worse, the wage gap between Latina workers and their white counterparts is even bigger for those with higher levels of education. Somewhat counterintuitively, Latinas with higher educational attainment struggle even harder to close the gap between their own earnings and the earnings of others outside their community.
Latinas don’t make the same amount as their white male counterparts but live in the same nation whose living costs do not depend on wage gaps. Latinas making less means they are afforded fewer privileges than white men. This does even mention that barriers to getting capital to start a small business. Find a list of Latino owned businesses.
White-collar jobs often hire those with higher levels of formal education, which means that arguably “better” schooling lands you more desirable positions. Lacking certain levels of formal education can stick you with jobs that require more work but pay less. There is such a thing as pink-collar jobs, and they are those who work in care-oriented careers or fields that are considered to be women’s work, including the beauty industry, secretarial work, nursing, or child care. But categorically stereotyping what areas are better suited for women puts our progress in reverse! What is the point of passing the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago if women can’t even apply for the same jobs today?
This study of Latina wages and the enormous gap that still exists was published by LeanIn.org, a recognized authority on the subject. When extrapolated across the entire community of workers, the value of all that lost pay is a staggering $1 million dollars for each Latina worker over the course of their career.
That means Latina workers are collectively losing billions of dollars, but those underpaid employees are not the only ones who suffer. Those lost dollars from smaller paychecks will never filter into the economy, they will never be spent at local stores, they will never fund future retirements, and they will never be used to purchase real estate and housing stock.
Simply put, the collective value of all those lost paychecks is more than just a problem for the Latina community, even if those workers feel the wage gap most acutely. Rather this gap in wages between the amount paid to Latinas across all industries and levels of educational attainment represents a real loss to society, one that has unseen but very real repercussions for everyone, no matter what their race or ethnic identity.
The War Waged on Colored America
While it may seem like this is just a battle for raising wages, what it actually is is a war against something hard-wired into American society for ages. There is a vicious cycle going on, the bedrock of which is systematic racism. It impacts wages, education, entrepreneurship, small businesses owned by women or minorities, and almost everything else.
Latinas and other “minorities” cannot afford the kind of education white males can. Therefore, they cannot attain the job opportunities given to the latter. Why can’t they afford the same quality of education? Because they are not paid as much. Without being able to afford the same kind of formal education, “minorities” have a more challenging time landing even entry-level positions.
Not being able to partake in the basic job training you would typically receive upon attaining entry-level jobs prevents them from acquiring the qualifications needed to advance. Therein lies the problem.
The new census population has projected “White America” is to become America’s “minority” by 2045, with “Colored America” making up 51.3% of the nation’s future population, with Hispanics making up nearly half of that percentage (24.6%). The future “majority” of the people making less than the future “minority” will negatively impact the economy in a big way!
The youth of today are the engineers of everyone’s tomorrow. Yes, the future depends on our current youth, the majority of which are colored. Suppose they stumble into the same systematic racism as previous generations before they have. In that case, the nation’s economy will suffer, and the effects will be felt by every one of its citizens.
As you can see, Latina’s wage gap isn’t just a problem for Latinas. It is a problem for the Black community, women in general, Asians, and every group that is not a white-male. It is an economic crisis waiting to explode. It is a crisis currently only being felt within the Latin community, but it will take its toll on America’s entirety later on.
What We Can Do About It
Closing the wage gap between Latina women and their white male counterparts will not be easy, and this is a multifaceted problem that must be attacked on multiple fronts. Racism and lack of opportunity certainly have a role to play here, but cultural norms could also be partially responsible.
Many Latina women may have been raised to remain quiet even in the face of adversity, and that can cause workers to stay silent when they should be demanding raises. Overcoming those kinds of cultural issues could prove problematic, but many in the Latina community have been trying to do just that.
Going over organizations’ pay practices helps by determining where the gaps in payments lay. Discerning whether these gaps are appropriate, or simply racist or sexist. Performing these semiannual audits can help make the necessary adjustments for equal pay amongst all employees.
Realizing the actual worth of what various cultures can bring to your company is beneficial for everyone. Inclusivity matters because the bigger a company is, the chances are their products or services are catering to a more extensive network. A company’s ability to be inclusive of all cultures helps broaden its spectrum for advancement for all.
Focusing on an employee’s hard work instead of their gender or race and appreciating their value by paying them equally. Doing this boosts morale and creates a better working environment for everyone.
Barriers remain in place even for Latinas who do choose to speak up and demand their rights. The rate of advancement is a particularly salient point here, and studies show that for every 100 non-Hispanic white men who are awarded a promotion, just 68 Latinas are able to achieve the same goal. This study, once again, was reported by LeanIn.org, and it may illustrate why so many Latinas find themselves stuck for years in what should be entry-level roles.
Small business and entrepreneurship
Ensure Latinas as well as other minorities have the same access to capital to start or grow a business, Ensure banks, government grants, and other lenders direct capital to minority groups on a fair and equal basis.
The myth that hard work always pays off is yet another barrier Latinas face as they try to close the wage gap between themselves and their white male counterparts. When Latinas work hard and see themselves falling further and further behind, they may lose faith in the entire system, trapping them even more completely and creating an even costlier problem for society as a whole.
The Latina wage gap is daunting, and it is unlikely to be solved in time for the next Latina Equal Pay Day. Even so, advances have been made, and many more people are now paying attention. Economists have pointed out the enormous economic value those lost wages have had, and business leaders have fretted that those collective billions of dollars could have been going into their coffers had the wage gap been eliminated. So as the world moves forward to another Latina Equal Pay Day, take a moment to reflect on how the plight of those underpaid workers has impacted you, because that impact is only too real.
What’s important to remember is genuine actions toward progress are what matters. Some organizations will say they care and make it a point to show everyone they’re paying their employees equally. But taking a closer look at the people they’re hiring, what positions they’re being hired for, and the rate they are advancing in might tell us a different story.
Bridging the wage gap means bridging the opportunity gap. It means encouraging small business development as well. Hiring Latinas and allowing them to stagnate in low-level positions in exchange for minimum wage leaves some companies feeling like they’re doing their part. When the fact of the matter is these actions are what continue to hold us back from progressing. We all need to do better to save one another from this never-ending cycle of inequality.