What would you do with equal pay or an extra $1 million?

Joi Olivia Chaney
Nov 4, 2016 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Query: What would you do with an extra $1 million? Travel around the world? Buy a luxury car? Even an island!? Support your candidate of choice? Invest in your community? What about using it to support yourself and your family? Buying basic necessities like healthy food, health insurance, housing and higher education? Seem like a silly question? Well, it’s not, especially if you are one of the nation’s more than 10 million Latina workers.

This week, millions of Latinas are asking themselves just that: What would I do with an extra $1 million? Latina Equal Pay Day was on Tuesday, November 1 — the day in 2016 when Latina wages finally caught-up to the wages earned by White, non-Hispanic men in 2015. That’s 10 months — nearly a full year — later. Put another way, Latinas must work 22 months to earn what White men earn in 12 months. Nearly twice as hard to get half as much.

How much does this cost Latinas? You guessed it: More than $1 million over the course of a 40-year career.

Women of all backgrounds face a pay gap, making only 80 cents on the dollar paid to men. But Latinas face the worst gap of all, earning only 54 cents on the dollar of White men. And in the states with the highest numbers of Latinas working full-time and year-round — California and Texas — their pay is even more disparate, at just 43 and 44 cents, respectively. So, the $1 million estimate may be conservative for some. Indeed, in Washington, DC, where I live, the loss is closer to $1.7 million — the worst in the nation for Latinas. D.C. also has the worst gap for my demographic, African American women.

Moreover, while the gap contracts and expands as Latinas move up and down the socio-economic ladder, a gap is always present regardless of occupation, professional level, educational attainment, etc. Latinas, like all women, simply can’t escape it.

Read the fact sheet released jointly by National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement to learn more about the Latina Wage Gap.

And who pays the price? Well, it would be bad enough and a national outrage if it were just Latinas, but since six in ten Latinas have children under the age of 18, pay discrimination is hurting Latinas and their families. Moreover, Latinas account for close to $1 trillion in U.S. buying power. Thus, the Latina wage gap impacts us all. Not to mention closing the gender wage gap is the right, fair and legal thing to do.

So what’s being done about it?

This week, Latino, women’s legal and workers’ rights advocates across the country, including Equal Pay Today! and its more than 20 member organizations, launched a campaign around Latina Equal Pay Day and raised awareness about the gap. Visit www.latinaequalpay.org for more information and a take-action toolkit. We’ve done this before for national equal pay day and the equal pay days for other women of color because we know that knowledge and collective action is power.

Moreover, every day Equal Pay Today organizations are working at the state and federal level to enforce laws and promote policies that would close the wage gap for all women. This includes fighting for:

  • Tougher, smarter and more comprehensive enforcement of state and federal antidiscrimination laws, including pay equity, pay transparency, prior salary and data collection laws;
  • A recognition of the role occupational segregation plays in the wage gap, lowered barriers to high-paying jobs for women and the appropriate valuation of jobs predominantly occupied by women;
  • Greater protections and accommodations for pregnant workers and workers with caregiving responsibilities, including paid leave; and
  • A raise in the minimum wage for all wage earners, including tipped workers.

We are also working to ensure employers have the tools needed to voluntarily comply with the law and go above and beyond it to ensure not only the diversity but also the inclusion of a workforce that reflects America.

Today our state project leads — in California (Equal Rights Advocates, California Women’s Law Center and Legal Aid Society — Employment Law Center), Illinois (Women Employed), Minnesota (Gender Justice), New Mexico (Southwest Women’s Law Center), Washington (Legal Voice) and Pennsylvania (Women’s Law Project) — shared their vision for a United State of Women, and I couldn’t agree with them more. It is possible within our lifetimes for women to be compensated equally and promoted fairly for their work, for employers to have a zero tolerance policy for workplace discrimination, for successful businesses to accommodate the needs of the modern family, and for all workers to earn a living wage.

On the eve of the most important Presidential election in generations, where women voters are the most influential and coveted of all and 81 percent of voters support pay equity, it is clear: Closing the gender wage gap would make us both stronger together and ensure our nation’s greatness well into the future

Image for post
Image for post

So, what would you do with an extra $1 million? It doesn’t matter. You’ve earned it, you deserve it.

Demand Equal Pay Today!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store