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It will take two centuries for the gender wage gap to close for Latinas if we do nothing

March 24 marked Equal Pay Day for all women. The day was officially established in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as a symbolic representation of how far into this year women must work to catch up to what men made in the previous year. Women working full-time, year-round are typically paid just 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. That is just the statistic for women in general, but the gender wage gap is much wider for minority women, especially Latinas. 

Equal Pay Day

Women’s Equal Pay Day marks the day into the year on which it takes for women on average to earn what men did in 2020. (Source: equalpaytoday.org)

The gender wage gap for Latinas in the U.S. 

For Latina women in the U.S., Equal Pay Day is not until October 21 this year, meaning it will take until October 2021 for Latinas to have earned the same amount as white men did in 2020. To put it another way, a Latina woman must work 23 months to earn what white men earn in just 12 months

Latinas account for close to $1 trillion in US buying power, but earn on average only 55 cents to the dollar paid to white, non-hispanic men. Additionally, the pay gap widens for educated Latinas. Latinas are pursuing higher education more than ever before but education does not eliminate the pay gap. In fact, the gap is largest for Latinas with a bachelor’s degree, who earn 37% less than white men on average. 

Latinas Equal Pay Day, gender wage gap

Latinas are among the most adversely affected by the gender pay gap. They are paid just 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. (Source: latinaequalpay.org)

All around, Latinas tend to make less than everyone, with Latina Equal Pay Day being the last Equal Pay Day group celebrated each year.

If the gender pay gap does not improve, Latinx women have a lot to lose: $28,036 every year, and $1,121,440 over the course of a 40-year career. To catch up, Latinas in New Jersey and California would have to work until ages 115 and 114 respectively.

In twelve states – Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Washington – Latinas lose more to the wage gap than they are paid in a year.

You might be interested: How Latinas Equal Pay Day 47 percent pay gap hurts big business

The states with the largest lifetime losses due to the wage gap include California ($1,708,160), Connecticut ($1,499,800), Illinois ($1,261,040), Maryland ($1,554,400), Massachusetts ($1,369,000), New Jersey ($1,760,840), Rhode Island ($1,196,360), Texas ($1,389,800), Washington ($1,300, 960), and Washington, D.C. ($1,953,000).

Closing the gap for an equal future 

The gender wage gap has narrowed slightly over time but only by a few pennies over several decades. Currently the average pay for women in general is 82 cents per dollar earned by a man. A decade ago in 2011, that number was 77 cents, and in 1996 when the first Equal Pay Day was established, the number was around 74 cents. If this trend continues, the wage gap will not close for another 38 years or until around 2059.

For Black women the date is over a century away. And for Hispanic women it will be over two centuries before the wage gap closes if we do nothing to change the trend. 

gender wage gap, Latina Equal Pay Day

Join leaders, advocates and influencers across the nation who are pledging to take action as champions of gender parity. (Source: latinaequalpay.org)

The first steps to closing the wage gap is to push for legislative action. The Paycheck Fairness Act is just one of many acts that will take important steps towards the goal of ending pay discrimination. For instance, it will ban employers from seeking salary history — removing a common false justification for under-paying women and people of color — and it will hold employers accountable who engage in systemic discrimination.  The bill will also work to ensure transparency and reporting of disparities in wages, because the problem will never be fixed if workers are kept in the dark about the fact that they are not being paid fairly.  

Raise the Wage Act is another legislative measure that will help close the wage gap in the long run. The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase the minimum wage annually from its current level ($7.25) to $15 by 2025, after which the minimum wage would be indexed to median hourly wage growth. With Latinas overrepresented in low-wage work, the Raise the Wage Act would give 32% of working Latinas a significant raise. 

Resources for more information and further learning on the gender wage gap: 

https://www.latinaequalpay.org/ 

https://www.pay-equity.org/index.html

http://www.equalpaytoday.org/overview-2021

Changes in immigration policies_feature

How changes in immigration policies might affect hiring of Latinos

No matter what side of the political spectrum you align with, everyone knows changes in immigration policies have been a point of contention making headlines recently. It is hard to miss the viral videos of someone being handcuffed by ICE, a vocal immigrant speaking out at a press conference, or the rallies across the world.

Changes in immigration policies_feature

As these images come up on our devices, many Latinos are probably wondering if and how all this turmoil might affect their careers. The answer is mixed, and complicated.

Having immigrants highlighted on the news will have diverse ramifications for Latinos. On the one hand, the coverage of immigrants has put a more human side to Latinos.

Infographics for Millenial women immigration policies

theSKimm Infographics about millennial women and changes in immigration policies https://medium.com/@skimmstudies/immigration-is-now-a-top-issue-for-millennial-women-7c4b1b63f651

Americans are now publicly seeing what immigrants care about, why they came here in the first place, their contributions to society, their mistreatment, and so on. This could potentially cause empathy and acceptance in individuals who previously did not know enough about the lives of immigrants in the United States.

Furthermore, an entire part of the country is now rallied behind protecting immigrants and their rights. For example, a recent poll by Skimm Studies showed that millennial women have now drastically re-prioritized immigration as a top issue, changing even purchasing behavior to support immigrants because of this newfound interest.

Could these changes in immigration policies translate into new hiring trends in the workplace?

If people are starting to care more about immigrants because of what they are being exposed to via national politics, could in not be assumed that this level of care will translate into the workplace?

Indeed, companies are already seeing ramifications, and some are making pledges because of the controversy. Starbucks, for example, is offering legal services to employees. This is possibly advantageous to Latinos because hiring managers at companies may be on the lookout for immigrants.

This newly found empathy and acceptance could translate to a heightened awareness, and possibly an incentive for people to hire Latinos. Some who dislike these new policies may even try hiring Latinos as part of the #resistance.

Although Latinos may not want to be hired just because of their heritage, this heightened interest in immigrants may give them the chance to show their worth and earn the attention that they have always deserved.

changes in immigration policies women in corporate

A divided country in immigration policies impacts discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination, on the other hand, is also on the rise this year; New York City, for example, has seen a “whopping 60% hike in discrimination complaints” (Commission on Human Rights/New York Daily News).

Unfortunately at the root of much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric underlies discrimination, which in the workplace and hiring practices can reflect not only in a lack of diversity in hiring practices, but sometimes emboldened outright discriminatory activity.

Unfortunately, this is where Latinos could face heightened difficulty. Not only will searching for jobs most likely be more difficult if these belief systems are central to a company but the workplace itself could become uncomfortable at minimum.

Then there is the neutral part of the country, which will try to go about business as usual, disregarding politics entirely. Those who are not going to make political statements with hiring decisions may not change their practices at all. In this case, Latinos neither will benefit nor be hindered by the recent changes in immigration policies.

A majority that cannot be dismissed in these changes in immigration policies

And then, of course, there is practicality –Latinos are a huge percentage of the population, and it would be difficult to entirely avoid hiring them.

theSkim infographics MIllenias and immigration EO

theSkim infographics MIllenial women reaction to changes in immigration policies https://medium.com/@skimmstudies/immigration-is-now-a-top-issue-for-millennial-women-7c4b1b63f651

“A majority of United States companies will hire foreign workers in 2017 even as Donald Trump talks tough on limiting immigration… The continued ability of employers to acquire and develop global talent is vital and plays a crucial role in helping our country remain competitive in today’s economy.” (U.S. Companies Will Hire More Foreigners This Year, Survey Says – Forbes)

In truth, the effects of recent politics on Latinos and their careers will greatly depend on the point of view of the employer, as it always has before. Researching inclusive employers though, is one of the many tactics Latinos and Latinas can use to ensure the continued progress of any career.

What is unquestionable, according to history, however, is that no single political perspective remains in power for any long duration in the United States, so any patient Latinos may see the climate change in their favor if they wait long enough. The arch of a career is a long path with many turns.

Johan De Nysschen, president of General Motors Co.'s Cadillac unit, left, Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development at GM,

Women in leadership redefining corporate America

Corporate culture has been identified as an underlying issue for lack of women in leadership positions in the workplace. Within the USA, gender and race discrimination clearly still exists and unfortunately it inevitably leaves minorities feeling isolated. However, a recent study entitled The Everest Project is throwing some hope into this controversial topic.

Johan De Nysschen, president of General Motors Co.'s Cadillac unit, left, Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development at GM,

Johan De Nysschen, president of General Motors Co.’s Cadillac unit, left, Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development at GM, attend a Cadillac event at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Are women in leadership truly redefining corporate America?

The Everest Project seeks to find answers. In their 2016 Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America report, researchers analyzed two years of interviews with 132 women in senior leadership roles – including Hispanic, Black, Pan-Asian, White and LGBT women in over 80 Fortune 500 corporations within different industries and regions in the US.

For a more comprehensive perspective, the report was amplified by conducting an other 260 interviews with executive level personnel to whom these women reported. Women interviewed as well as their managers were selected predominantly within zero to three levels of CEO role.

Among many findings, the study highlighted that 57 percent of the strategic changes within the companies researched were directed by women, identifying that women are leading change and transformation within US organizations. The research concludes that women have used their cultural and gender qualities as leadership strength to create innovations in the boardroom.

As exciting as these results might sound, it is hard to believe that female influence can cause such a strong impact in corporate America. A study by CNNMoney shows that only 14.2 percent of the top five leadership roles in businesses within the S&P 500 are held by women. Even more concerning is the fact that out of 500 companies involved in this research, only 24 CEO seats are occupied by females while only 16.5 percent of chief financial officers, chief operating officers and other key roles at major companies are held by women, a small pool of leaders to draw from.

“Yet current corporate leaders are still a long way from reflecting the diversity of their employees,” The Everest Report says. “One [interviewed] Everest executive’s manager (also a woman) observes, ‘We experience change, but have women gotten to the top? Looking at the top there are only white men… It’s like you have a glass ceiling and then you have lead above a glass ceiling.’ Women occupy 53% of all professional-level jobs, but they represent ever-slimmer wedges of the pie closer to the top. When race and ethnicity are added to the mix, the imbalance is even greater, with numbers almost too small to analyze. And despite a changing landscape, 53% of LGBT workers nationwide still have to hide who they are at work at the cost of individual employee engagement and retention.” (The Everest Report, pp. 28-30)

What do executive women bring to the table?

Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang, co-founders of The Everest Project

Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang, co-founders of The Everest Project

Gender diversity at a senior management level is a topical yet controversial subject. In 2011, a report called “The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance And Women’s Representation On Boards” clearly defined a positive link between gender diversity at board level and financial performance.

The report highlights that a diverse, inclusive environment at senior management level is not just essential to improve opportunities for women but also benefits economic results and profits as a business.

Measuring return on sales (ROS), return on invested capital (ROIC), and return on equity (ROE), findings in this report include:

  • Companies with the most women board directors (WBD) outperform those with the least on ROS by 16 percent.
  • Companies with the most WBD outperform those with the least on ROIC by 26 percent.
  • Companies with sustained high representation of WBD, defined as those with three or more WBD in at least four of five years, significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84 percent on ROS, by 60 percent on ROIC, and by 46 percent on ROE.
  • Encouraging a corporate culture that is focused on equality could help develop and attract talented and ambitious women while increasing levels of employee satisfaction and motivation.

The Everest Project approaches the issue from another perspective. “Effectively bringing together diverse individuals in a workplace requires what’s known as cultural intelligence—or the capability to bridge the gap with people from other cultures and even subcultures within your own group. This is an ability that Everest women possess in great measure, and they demonstrate its known contribution to team, leadership, and managerial effectiveness. They’re remarkably comfortable leading diverse groups, drawing upon their knowledge and experiences of their difference to connect with employees and relate to clients.” (p. 33)

They are conducting corporate culture change by applying their own gender strengths to leadership: embracing smart risk, practicing humility as a critically important strategic skill, bringing collaboration as new reality of hyper connected environments, and understanding that bringing in differences means having more to contribute.

Companies must invest in analyzing their cultural issues, in order to successfully address and overcome bias opinions within the workplace. The businesses that fail to adapt to these demands will find that they also fail to attract the best talent, retain their employees and ultimately struggle to keep up with society’s expectations of them as an employer.

How does corporate America deal with gender discrimination?

A lack of opportunities for ambitious and talented people might force them to look elsewhere to develop their career, especially within certain industries that lack the ability to cater to their career aspirations.

See in this interactive graph how gender and minority diversity are represented in the Tech industry.

See on this interactive infograph how gender and minority diversity are represented in the Tech industry. http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/20/9179853/tech-diversity-scorecard-apple-google-microsoft-facebook-intel-twitter-amazon

For example, within the technology industry, lack of diversity is common. Some women in leadership feel uncomfortable within their work environment. Gender discrimination but also issues facing their age, sexuality and race or ethnic backgrounds have been highlighted as the main reason why many were leaving the technology industry.

To improve upon these issues, training, cultural assessments and distinctive career paths for every employee should be considered. These solutions offer heightened visibility and transparency of a business’s workforce, whilst creating processes that extinguish any unconscious bias existing within America’s corporate environment.

“When powerful women take on the status quo, the very definition of leadership changes. Risk becomes investment in learning, and being different means having more to contribute. The mantras for collective genius and shared value replace the win-lose, in-or-out mentality. Women today are designing a new corporate culture for a time of rapid change.” (p. 36)

Diversity is an opportunity for businesses in corporate America to develop their competitive advantage, while attracting, retaining and developing talented people. There is still more work to be done to improve women in leadership representation within corporate culture. Society is adding more and more pressure for corporate organizations to overcome these challenges. Businesses that invest in gender diversity now will see improvements in their financial, economic and workforce performance as they train and mentor the future leaders of tomorrow.