Chances are good that you've heard about the pay gap — the fact that women make less money than men for doing the same job. You may have even heard a bit about Equal Pay Day, the day of the year when a woman's pay catches up to that of her male counterparts.
What you might not know is that equal pay issues are also affected by race, and the Latina wage gap is the worst. This means that while white women make 79 cents for every dollar a white man makes on average, Latina women make just 57 cents, according to recent data from LeanIn. That's about 30% less than white women and 45% less than white men.
This number also varies depending on the state. The Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment reports that Latina women in Massachusetts make 51 cents for every dollar a white man makes. It's pay disparity like this that makes today, Latina Equal Pay Day, so important.
Raising Awareness of Latina Equal Pay Day
Despite the United States' Equal Pay Act passing in 1963, our country has a long way to go before all citizens are paid equally, especially minority women. According to Institute for Women's Policy Research data from 2020, if current trends continue, it will take 200 years to close the gender wage gap for Latinas, or until 2220. This statistic illustrates the drastic urgency of the mission and message of Latina Equal Pay Day.
Latina Equal Pay Day is the day when Latina women's pay catches up to the pay of white, non-Hispanic men from the year before. This day, along with Black, Native, and AAPI Women's Equal Pay Days, is observed to highlight just how much being a woman—especially a woman of color—can hold people back from economic success. This year, that day falls on October 21st, which means Latina women "must work nearly 23 months to earn what white men earn in 12 months," according to the Equal Pay Today campaign.
The fact that today is the last Equal Pay Day of the year means it's the day when the pay of all women finally catches up to the pay of white men from the year before. But Latina women making less than all other groups puts them and the communities they support at the most severe disadvantage. This is especially troubling when you consider that Hispanics made up more than half of total U.S. population growth from 2010–2019, and what Latinas have contributed to this country and the local New England community:
- From 2010 to 2019, the U.S. Hispanic population grew by more than 9.8 million, reaching a record 60.6 million in 2019, or 18% of the total U.S. population, according to Pew Research Center.
- Nearly 1.6 million self-employed Hispanic women and Hispanic-owned small businesses in the U.S. reported sales of $34.7 billion in 2017 (the latest available data), according to the U.S. Census.
- Puerto Rican Felicitas Mendez began the legal battle that ended segregation in California schools and laid the groundwork for Brown vs. Board of Education, which ended legal segregation throughout the U.S.
- Latina women hold important roles in local, state, and federal government, from Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz—the first Latina to serve in the state Senate—all the way to the Supreme Court, where associate justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor has held her seat since 2009. According to the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston, more than double the number of Latinas are serving in Massachusetts political offices today (33) compared to 2014 (14). Meanwhile, progress has been slower in states like New Hampshire, where only 6% of New Hampshire elected representatives are minorities (as of 2016), and 29% are female (as of 2015), according to the Concord Monitor.
- There are more than 30,000 Latino-owned businesses in Massachusetts alone. These businesses generate over $4.2 billion in annual revenue and create over 27,000 jobs, according to the Enterprise Center at Salem State University.
Get Involved for Racial and Gender Pay Equity
Despite the statistics on equal pay disparities, especially for Latina women, there are many ways we can contribute to pay equity.
Eastern Bank works to promote representation for women through advocacy and raising awareness, including testifying to show its support of gender diversity legislation that promotes pay transparency and more women serving on corporate boards of directors. We are deeply committed to building and sustaining a diverse workforce reflective of the communities we serve, and while we are proud of our long-standing commitment to DE&I, we recognize we have more work to do to improve.
In 2020, 67% of our workforce were women and 9% were Latino/Latina/Latinx; 43% of our hires were people of color, a company record, and of that number, 65% were women and 14% were Latino/Latina/Latinx. Our Latinos In Action employee resource group offers support and inclusion to colleagues, input to leadership, advice for our philanthropy, and volunteerism in the community. Our affiliations with such groups as Conexión, which was founded by Eastern's first Latina Trustee Phyllis Barajas, and The Partnership, Inc. further support the growth and development of Latino professionals. These are organizations any business can similarly join to advance the Latina workforce.
You can advocate for your Latina friends, neighbors, and colleagues as well. Participating in, volunteering with, and spreading the word about organizations creating more opportunities for Latina women is a great place to start. Below are a few examples:
- Amplify Latinx is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works to uplift Latinx individuals in the boardroom, local government, and beyond. Greater representation creates equality, especially at executive levels, and by supporting Amplify Latinx, you can help Latina women get better pay at all levels.
- The Chica Project is an organization based in Quincy, Massachusetts, that provides professional and personal mentorship opportunities for Latina women and other women of color. Join the cause by participating as a mentor.
- Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, or IBA, is a Boston-based community development organization that works to create safer spaces for marginalized Latino communities from the ground up, from housing to community programs to addressing food insecurity. You can volunteer in their programs to help Latina women at every stage in their lives.
This year, take the time to observe Latina Equal Pay Day and educate yourself on other dates of observance that highlight race and gender pay disparities. By spreading awareness, volunteering, and advocating in our local workplaces and communities, we can all contribute to large-scale changes that will help close the wage gap.
Visit Join Us for Good to learn more and discover additional ways to take action for gender and racial pay equity.