Today is Latina Equal Pay Day and during this pandemic, this issue could not be more relevant. On average, Latina women are paid only 55% of what white men are paid, which means now, during a public health and economic crisis, they are particularly at risk. The date of October 29th is symbolic, representing on average how much longer it would take a Latina to earn the same amount that her white male counterpart made in the previous year. In other words, if a white man earned $100,000 in 2019, it would take a Latina all of 2019 plus 10 months of 2020, or nearly 22 months in total, to earn the same amount for the same job in corporate America.
At 55 cents for every dollar a white man makes, Latina women earn less than white women (80 cents), Black women (62 cents), and Native American women (60 cents). It will take Latinas 205 years to make what their white male counterparts make. This is not only unacceptable; it is also dangerous. In September, nearly 900,000 women over the age of 20 dropped out of the American workforce compared with 216,000 men in the same age group according to the US Department of Labor. Latina women dropped out at a rate of nearly triple that of all women. Now, more than ever, it’s clear that because of systemic barriers and inequities, women of color are the most vulnerable to falling into poverty.
Executive Women of New Jersey is an organization that strives to ensure women have equal access to corporate leadership opportunities and that they are paid equitably in those positions. Our leadership continues to be intentionally one of the most diverse of women’s professional organizations in the nation because true change begins with intention followed by action and accountability. If women were paid what they deserve, we could lift millions of families out of poverty and create greater equity. We call on business leaders in New Jersey to adhere to the following recommendations, which can be easily and immediately implemented:
Acknowledge that Latinas are paid less than any other demographic and fix the wage-gap problem. Conduct a compensation audit immediately to identify and address this disparity.
Include Latinas in decision making and in leadership positions, particularly on boards.
Look beyond internal, informal networks for qualified candidates for boards and employment. Partner with Latinx professional organizations to find candidates. Achieving diversity requires looking in new places for qualified potential board members.
Anna Maria Tejada, Esq., a labor and employment lawyer and Partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr. She is the President Elect of Executive Women of New Jersey, which produces a biennial report on the number of women on boards and the gender pay gap. She is also a past President of the Hispanic Bar Association in NJ.