October 29 marked Latina Equal Pay Day in 2020, the latest equal pay day for any group of women in the United States. Equal Pay Day is a symbolic day that represents how far into the year women must work to earn what non-Hispanic white men earned the previous year. Because Latinas in the U.S. earn 55 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man earns, it takes nearly two years for them to earn what white men earn in a year.
What’s driving the pay gap for Latina women?
In the corporate world, gaps in opportunity are driving the gap in pay. For every 100 men who are promoted to manager, only 68 Latinas receive a promotion. And the problem goes all the way to the top — despite making up 17% of the workforce, only 4% of executives are Hispanic. Latinas see large pay gaps compared to white men working in the same industry, and gaps increase as levels of education and experience increase.
Even though the gap is getting a little better — Latina Equal Pay Day was November 20 in 2019 — it will take a concerted effort to catch up Latinas to the pay of white men, or even to be paid comparably to other women. Because of COVID-19, there’s a danger the gap could get worse again next year.
Latinas have seen the worst unemployment rates of any group every month since March 2020 and they are most represented in industries that have been impacted by the shutdown. A Syndio survey earlier this year found that 41% of Latinas worry that the pandemic will result in negative consequences to their career, and 43% of Latino respondents said they or their spouse have considered quitting their jobs in order to meet increased family responsibilities during the shutdown.
How can companies help close the gap?
So what can companies do to help? To start, focus on culture.
76% of Latino employees say they can’t be themselves at work. And Latinas report barrier to promotion: they struggle to find ways to find sponsors or allies that could help them move up the ladder and feel excluded from socializing with company leaders. Better supports for childcare will also help Latinas advance, especially as they shoulder bigger burdens at home.
As COVID shutdowns increase the social distance between colleagues and create a larger load of family care, companies will need to be more proactive than ever to prevent a further backslide for their Latina employees in the post-COVID workforce.