Latina Equal Pay Day: Meet the Organizations Fighting Income Inequality

On Oct. 21, Latina Equal Pay Day will be commemorated, marking the day when Latina pay catches up to that of white, non-Hispanic males from the previous year.

Latinas usually receive just 57 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic males, and must work about 23 months to earn what white men make in 12 months, more than 50 years after the adoption of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the median wealth of a Latino household in 2019 was around $14,000, which is just 9% of the median wealth of white families, which was $160,200. It’s a chasm that can have long-term consequences for Latino families.

Organizations like #WeAllGrow Latina, the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, and Vela are striving to assist, elevate, and finance Latina workers as they battle for fair wages and opportunity across the country.

“If I’m going to develop and understand how to do this, I’m going to teach it and we’re all going to do it together,” Ana Flores, the creator, and CEO of the online networking group #WeAllGrow Latina stated. “Now that we’ve been together for 11 years, we’ve truly formed a community.”

According to Patricia Mota, CEO of Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, systemic racial and gender discrimination is at the foundation of the wage disparity.

These organizations, on the other hand, are working hard to build a strong Latinx network while also providing professional development training, talent acquisition services, and grants or fellowships to entrepreneurs, enterprises, and students. They also provide mental health and self-care resources.

For example, the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement offers the Women’s Leadership Program, which has provided leadership training to over 3,000 Latinas over the years. According to Mota, 70% of the program’s alumni have claimed a rise in income or promotion at their place of employment within less than a year after finishing the program.

Since its inception, #WeAllGrow has taken various shapes. What began as a tool for Latina bloggers has evolved into a multimedia environment with forums, breakout sessions, and chat rooms that bring Latinas from all over the world together in one online home.

To commemorate Latina Equal Pay Day, #WeAllGrow and the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement are joining up with professionals from a variety of sectors to host a cohort of future leaders for seminars, panel discussions, and talks on various skills to aid them on their path.

The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, #WeAllGrow, and the Vela network, which is a young Latinx professional network for entrepreneurs, reach out to individuals of all ages, from students to early-career employees to seasoned professionals.

Creating a safe environment for Latinas to open up about their experiences helps equip other Latinas with the tools they need to fight prejudice, according to Vela creator Vanessa Nevarez.

Nevarez has been motivated by individuals who have gone before her in similar endeavors. She has never owned a business, and no one in her family has, so managing this endeavor has been a learning process for her. She hopes that this network will be useful not only to her members but also to herself.

Nevarez is just one example of how effective the support system and community have been and will continue to be.

“[Vela] will grow into a center, where we value community above competitiveness,” added Nevarez. “We’re not a monolith… but we do share a common bond in that we care about our town and want to see it thrive.”

In the meanwhile, as Latinas continue to break glass ceilings throughout the world and groups battle to alter the system that keeps Latinas at the bottom of the wage scale, these professionals offer some advice.

When it comes to negotiating compensation or promotion, Mota advises doing your homework: find out how much others in your sector are paid for similar work, how much your coworkers make, and what chances for advancement are available.

“It’s a market for employees, a market for job seekers,” Mota added. “Right now is the time to leverage it and truly enhance what you’re bringing in in terms of income — whether it’s in a different area or a different opportunity.”

Vanessa Valentin, director of marketing and communications at the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, advised talking freely about compensation and income with others since openness makes the process more equal. She and Mota also suggested focusing on self-confidence, networking, and never accepting the first wage offer without first negotiating.

They also suggested making contacts, expanding your network, and utilizing groups like theirs to guarantee that you have a Latinx force to support your objectives and needs.

“It’s not your fault — this system wasn’t built for us,” Flores added, “but we’re here, showing up together, to make sure that we change it and that the gatekeepers listen to us.”

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