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Latinas' progress in the U.S. has stalled. In fact, it's gotten worse.

Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Here's how we can close the pay gap for good.
Architect at workstation contemplating the project
Latinas are the lowest paid group across any demographic. And it’s getting worse. Getty Images

While Latinas play a critical role in the workforce, they are often paid less than their peers. And that pay gap is widening.

Latina Equal Pay Day, which falls on Dec. 8 this year, marks how far into the new year Latinas must work – almost a full year – to earn as much as their white, male co-workers. Last year, Latinas were paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

That’s 3 cents lower than the year before.

This pay gap amounts to an individual loss of $2,477 every month, $29,724 every year, and a staggering $1,188,960 over a lifetime according to the National Women’s Law Center.

“Latinas face one of largest wage gaps compared to white, non-Hispanic men, making less than other groups of women by race and ethnicity,” said Jasmin Tucker, director of Research at the National Women’s Law Center. “…These losses make it difficult for them to have a secure retirement given that they are among those who make the least and simultaneously among those who live the longest.”

The Latina pay gap exists for many reasons. For one, Latina women are overrepresented in lower paying jobs, like in care taking and food service. Latinas are also disproportionally affected by the lack of affordable childcare, which makes them more likely to leave the workforce. Finally, there is prejudice and bias that still exists in the hiring and negotiation process.

So how do we begin to close the pay gap?

Betsabe Botaitis a Silicon Valley executive and CFO of tech company Hedera, urged women to directly ask their potential employers about the fairness of the company’s compensation proposal, “[Ask], ‘Is this the best offer? And is it in line with what the range of my peers are making?’ You can say it just like that. Very few people do.”

Ana Flores, founder of #WeAllGrow Latina, one of the largest communities of professional Latinas in the country, said it’s also important to practice your negotiation and influencing skills.

“The reality is that it’s very difficult to get a substantial pay raise unless you’re getting a new title or getting recruited to another company within your industry. Thus, it’s very important that you know how to negotiate your pay during the hiring process,” said Flores.

Flores added women should remember to be their own biggest advocate. “Keep an ongoing list of your strengths, the value you bring to the company, any important milestones you’ve helped the company achieve and anything else that will help you always have a strong case as to why you deserve not only fair compensation, but a clear upward career path,” she said.

Gabriela Campoverde, CEO and founder of the software company Miren, said allyship from mentors and supportive co-workers made a difference when she was starting her career in finance. Having colleagues who were willing to put in the good word for her when she wasn’t in the room to represent herself was helpful, she explained.

Both Campoverde and Botaitis were part of a discussion Wednesday at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurship Center in San Francisco. The event, organized by Dealmakehers and Norwest Partners, celebrated women in tech who have defied the odds and have disrupted their industry.

While the invite-only forum brought together changemakers and investors with the goal of creating more funding opportunities for Latina founders in tech, equal pay was also a dominant theme. Several Latina founders detailed their frustrations tackling the issue of equal pay both in the corporate and investor worlds.

Min Chen, a Chinese-Panamanian tech founder, said part of the responsibility lies on leadership to implement policies making equitable pay more accessible. “For years, we have been publishing compensation with every job posting to ensure that the best candidate gets these benefits regardless of their gender and background,” said Chen. “But pay transparency goes beyond salary.”