November 1st was Latina Equal Pay Day, which marked the point in time when Latinas have, finally, statistically earned the same amount of money that white men received in 2015.
To be clear, it has taken 22 months for Latinas to earn the equivalent of one year’s pay for white men.
Throughout the equal pay for equal work initiative, the focus has been on women as a whole. While the gender wage gap is unacceptably significant across all races and ethnicities, the intersection of race and gender has not been talked about nearly as much as it should.
It’s well-known that women make up half the workforce but only make roughly 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. In reality, women of color make far less on the dollar, and are hired at significantly lower rates overall.
Every month, there are more than 500,000 new businesses starting up. While logic says that with more opportunities for employment, more demographics will be represented in the workforce, this is simply not true.
In a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, it is proven that at the current rate, Latinas will have to wait 232 more years in order to earn the same wages as men — until 2248.
By comparison, white women will reach wage equality by 2056, and black women will receive equal pay by 2124. By taking the average of all races, adjusting for the number of women in the workforce, on paper, women will reach “equal pay” by 2059, just three years after the mark for white women.
To put those 232 years into perspective, 232 years ago it was 1784. The U.S. had become a country just eight years prior.
“If we wait for the wage gap to close itself, Hispanic women will have to endure more than two more centuries of pay inequality,” economist and IWPR president Heidi Hartmann said. “That’s certainly much too long to ask of them and the families who rely on their earnings to make ends meet.”
One contributor to the wage gap is the “motherhood penalty.” When a female worker becomes pregnant, instead of making accommodations, an employer will often terminate employment or force the woman to take unpaid leave. While this is common among all women, it especially so among women of color.
This is exactly what happened to Lucianna Borrego in California.
Borrego was working as a deli cashier in California when she became pregnant with a baby boy. After a few months, she informed her supervisor that she would need to stop lifting anything that weighed more than 10 pounds.
For a man who’s experienced an injury, this is a normal accommodation to make. But instead, Borrego’s employer forced her on unpaid leave, which left her to struggle to provide for herself and unborn child.
With each child, mothers lose 4% of their income, while fathers often see a 6% bonus.
But in three million American households, Latinas are still the primary family providers. Additionally, Latinx households hold $1.3 trillion in buying power.
With a significantly high wage gap, not only are Latinas suffering, but companies are also missing out on a significant buyer demographic.
Over the course of a 40-year career, which is standard in most industries, a Latina working for these current wages can expect to earn $1,043,800 less than white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Despite the disproportionate number of Latinas who are being racially profiled and denied jobs as well as making less money than their peers, college graduation rates among Latinas are higher than any other female demographic, and 81% of Latinas overall plan to vote in the 2016 election.
While the outlook looks bleak now, Latinas are currently more powerful than ever before. Making a difference and promoting diversity in the workplace is possible. There’s no need to wait.