Today is the 302nd day of the year. Today was also Latina Equal Pay Day. Today is the day that, on average, a Latina must work in this county to make the same amount in compensation relative to that of a non-Hispanic white man was paid. As a Latina, as a woman, this is blatantly offensive. As a citizen of this country, this is unacceptable.
LATINAS ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE CARE OF THE COUNTRY…
BUT THE COUNTRY ISN’T CARING FOR ITS LATINAS
In 2020, as this country faces a public health and economic crisis, the pay gap women face is even more offensive. Considering how many Latinas in this US are essential workers alone makes this unacceptable. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Latina’s providing critical services necessary to this country’s recovery from this pandemic are still being underpaid and undervalued while putting their own lives at risk to save the lives of others. WHAT?!
In addition to medical staff, Latina’s providing essential roles in education and child care are also undervalued for their critical work. Is anyone surprised here? Nope. (Insert eye roll)
Now I’d like to take a moment and focus on the additional toll COVID-19 is taking on working Hispanic mothers.
**Please note: A woman’s worth is not determined by whether or not the label of “parent” is worn. Those that do not are just as important and have burdens as those that do. This particular topic is a valuable one that should be addressed in its own right and one I will devote time to on another day. To all the childfree sisters out there, I see you.**
In the United States today, nearly 7.7 million single mothers are fighting to make ends meet. According to the US Census, there were approximately 3.2 million Hispanic single mothers in the US in 2019. If you stop and think about that, it means that one in five mothers in this country are, as Annie Lennox sang, “doin’ it for themselves.” But, because of that lovely little issue of being underpaid, they are struggling to do it when they shouldn’t have to because men aren’t and if they are Hispanic, they are doing it the worst.
In addition to mothers being underpaid for their work, many are being undervalued in even more ways. Decades of research show that Latina mothers are 1.5 times more likely to be spending an additional three to five hours per day on housework and childcare during this pandemic. Mothers are balancing working, taking care of the home, childcare, and distance learning. Some are also having to balance caring for aging parents as well.
This additional workload reduces a Latina’s productivity, worth, sense of self, and overall health.
COVID-19 HAS ALSO BEEN THE #1 KILLER OF LATINA CAREERS
Hispanic women have experienced an incredibly steep rise in their unemployment rate. In February of this year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that Latina’s had an unemployment rate of 5.5%, which has now doubled to 11% in their most updated numbers in September. The Pew Research Center put together some startling data reflecting a breakdown in how Hispanic women are disproportionately impacted with job loss. The numbers are staggering. The fact is, Hispanic women’s careers are on life support.
COVID-19 ISN’T JUST KILLING OUR CAREERS; IT’S ALSO KILLING US.
Yesterday, October 28th, 2020, the CDC updated its Covid-19 mortality rates. It broke my heart to see that Latino deaths’ weighted population mortality rate rose from 26.7% cited in May 2020 to 32.4%. Yet last year, the US population of Latinos in this country was 18.5%, according to the US Census.
Let that sink in.
In case you need some breadcrumbs:
Latinos are dying from Covid at an alarmingly high rate.
Latinos have a high exposure rate because there are a disproportionately high number of Latino essential workers.
Latinos suffer from inequities in income, healthcare access, access to healthy food, and yes, the disparities in pay play a massive part in this because many Latinos live in poverty.
WHEN YOU UNDERPAY A LATINA,
YOU ARE ACTIVELY PRACTICING RACISM.
The continued practice of wage disparities is the very definition of systemic racism.
Real Talk: If you are a hiring manager, and you are hiring a person of color (be it a Latina or anyone else), and you consciously or unconsciously determine to pay them LESS THAN what you would pay a white man for doing the exact same job YOU ARE PRACTICING RACISM AND ACTIVELY DISCRIMINATING.
Yes, that made you uncomfortable.
Yes, you are saying "But... But..." in your head or scoffing at me right now.
Maybe you even just told me to "Fu*k off" in your head or maybe even out loud.
Maybe you are sitting there going through some narrative about how this is nonsense, and I’m full of it, and people need to negotiate better…
Or ask for more…
Or work harder….
Or look for another job…
Or some other privileged, ignorant, “sounds about white” rhetoric that I’ve heard time and time again that I have already told you that you need to stop recycling.
I SAID WHAT I SAID.
In case you missed it because you were stuck in your narrative, let me repeat myself:
You are practicing racism.
The practice of underpaying women of color perpetuates systemic racism, it’s intentional, and you need to do better.
How do I know I’m right on this? Because 19 states and the District of Columbia agree with me. In 2016, legislation was finally passed due to the substantial pay gaps women face, and the Equal Pay Act was passed. Part of that new legislation made it unlawful for employers to even ask candidates about previous salary history when making hiring decisions in the District of Columbia and those 19 states. Now, not all states are there yet, but it’ll come. And, if you are committed to being an antiracist, you’ll adopt the practice now.
I speak a lot about antiracism. My work has always been centered on the inclusion of all marginalized people. But this piece is about Latinas. My people. Me. It feels a little odd to write a piece that is so profoundly personal. It is humbling and painful to do this research and sit in the realization of how much oppression my people face. I’m a Latina who prides herself on being strong, competent, fearless, and empowered, yet writing this piece has been one of the most humbling experiences because it’s caused me to sit in the full realization that many of the situations I have faced this year and the last few years professionally have been deeply rooted in discrimination, oppression, and racism.
Even typing that last sentence made me cry for a solid twenty minutes before I could finish this piece. It caused me to post this at 10 pm instead of earlier in the day because I debated deleting many sections of this out of fear of putting too much of myself out there for fear it would be used against me later.
The emotional toll and deep-rooted pain women of color carry right now is real; it is raw and incredibly heavy. Many of us continue to bear the generational pain of the strong women who raised us to be strong women who carried their mothers, grandmothers, and mentors’ pain. It is a lot to carry and many of us have been carrying it for a long time.
SO WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO SUPPORT LATINAS?
First, know that what I just said is real. Be kind.
Here’s the deal… If you have women of color that you say are your wives, friends, in-laws, neighbors, what have you, and if you claim to love and care for her yet you don’t understand that she is hurting, then the fact is, you simply just happen to know women of color. Not investing in someone isn’t loving or caring for that person so don’t try and reap the benefits of having that person in your circle, ok?
Instead, check-in with your favorite Latinas, especially those who always seem to have it all together. The ones who never need anything. Those are usually the ones who need you the most because they suck at asking for help. I know.
Be The Change: The job market is tough, and as you read above, Hispanic women are disproportionately impacted. With so many people in the job market, the reality is that most roles are filled through referrals. Whether you are employed are not, you can help Hispanic women get their next role. Be the change for them to move their career forward. Things you can do: Help them update their resume or practice their interviewing skills. Make an introduction to hiring managers you know. Send them jobs that you think are great fits for their background; even better if you can make an introduction to the company or the manager making the hiring decision.
Ok, I get it, Seth isn’t a Latina, so what does he have to do with this? Well, one of those Hispanic women impacted by Covid-19 and this job market was yours truly. And while running WCCAR certainly keeps me busy, I continue to work to build The VIP Lab. With Covid, consulting opportunities have slowed dramatically and clients are hesitant to invest in themselves. A huge help would be helping to keep me busy by keeping me in mind by referring clients to me that you feel would benefit from my coaching services or consulting services. Also, I would even consider a full-time, corporate role with the right company.
So what would that even look like? A corporate position for me that I would add the most value at would be at a Director level or above, focused on strategic Human Resources leadership, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Organizational Effectiveness, and Talent Acquisition & Management. Ideally, my next position would be in the Twin Cities area or remote, but I can continue to travel up to 50% and consider relocation next fall after my child graduates high school. My industry background has primarily been focused on Tech (SaaS start-up), Med Device, and Manufacturing. My "sweet spot" is scaling high-growth organizations and bringing order to chaos.
What makes me different than other candidates? A 15+ year verifiable track record of transitioning corporate objectives into strategic people plans that create inclusive environments that drive innovation to meet and exceed organizational goals, every time.
If you'd like to learn more,
Ok… back to the other ladies, now…
Every Latina needs a Board of Directors: I think every woman needs a Board of Directors, but again, this is about Latinas today. Every Latina needs strong allies. REAL allies, not performative ones. Work to build real relationships with Hispanic women and give them honest feedback that builds them up and helps them be their best selves. Remember, growth doesn’t happen in comfort zones, so tough love is the love that helps us shine.
For the love of all things holy, help them negotiate! Here’s the tea: Culturally, many Hispanic women were groomed to be humble, sweet, friendly, and not talk about money. Yes, I realize those who know me are very confused because these lessons were taught to me, but I clearly failed them because I know my worth and my negotiation skills are above reproach. That said, many of my fellow Latinas were far better students in the school of demure. Many never learned the skills they need to negotiate or even to know the worth for their roles. We have been told that speaking about pay and rates is rude and intrusive. However, without having these conversations in safe spaces with people we trust, we cannot establish a real understanding of what our value is in the market. Yes, there are resources online, like on Salary.com, but the information is broad, and it can vary depending on industry, market, and other factors. It also helps to work with your friends to create a list of other items they would be willing to negotiate for as cash compensation isn’t the only aspect companies are willing to consider. Other factors that carry merit include bonus compensation, paid time off, paid volunteer hours, or even heal incentives like a gym membership can be additional items for consideration.
Again, if you are a hiring leader, do better: You saw it above; stop the pay gap. But more than that, if you do NOTHING else in the next year as a leader, I want you to do this:
Work to create psychological safety for your employees.
Psychological safety is the key to creating inclusive cultures.