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How to end Latina Equal Pay Day

By Olga Camargo, Patricia Mota and Juan Carlos Avila

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The equal pay gap for this year has been the worst that it has ever been, specifically for Latinas. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), more than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 “Latinas are paid 49 cents for every dollar paid to white men.” This year, Latina Equal Pay Day is December 8 and it signifies when Latina pay catches up to that of white non-Latino men from the previous year. To put it in perspective, it would take a Latina all of 2021 plus working up until Dec. 8, 2022, to make the same pay as a non-Latino white man made in 2021 alone. We also have to consider the severe after effect of this gap which is the economic loss of potential wealth for Latinas and their families. The nonprofit Hispanic Star offered a statistic denoting how “Latinas account for nearly one trillion in U.S. buying power.” Instead of making progress, we’re regressing.

That’s why we need to address this issue along with contributing factors like the devastating pandemic that began in early 2020. When it struck our country’s workforce, for example, many Latinas were the first ones to be let go of their positions. They exited the workforce in record numbers last September. When you think about Latinas’ current discounted wage, they can’t build much wealth so before jumping back into the job market, we want them to do some research so they are equipped with information to become their own best advocates for fair wages. 

To help them, they can find organizations such as the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), and the Mujeres de HACE Latina Leadership Program, which gives participants the vital support, resources, and networking opportunities to succeed professionally and thrive personally.  We want Latinas to have the knowledge, confidence and a spot on a level playing ground where they are making equal pay with their white male counterparts. We also encourage employers to provide pay transparency.

As they are earning those salaries, Latinas need to access financial literacy resources, affordable and high-quality investments to grow their portfolios and create that future wealth. They need to find trusted content and advisors who have their best intentions.

With Latinas in mind, we created the SHENIX™ web-based app earlier this year. We, as the co-founders, grew up in Latino communities, gained graduate education, and experience in career leadership development and financial expertise, and have firsthand knowledge of what is needed. We’ve managed retirement plans for companies and organizations and virtually educated their workforces in English and Spanish, for example, on what to expect from a retirement program, the eligibility requirements, the recommended percentage to save, and the importance of naming beneficiaries.

When we talk about the journey, it’s very personal. For example, one of our co-founders lived in the predominately Hispanic Little Village neighborhood in Chicago, and her mother ran a small bridal business. She faced a lot of financial and cultural issues while operating it. These experiences were the inspiration to start SHENIX to give trusted financial and professional support from a culturally relevant resource.

With our app, we are covering three areas. One is about providing financial education to address issues like equal pay, retirement, and opening up a new business—the latter is something we’ve observed. Hispanic Star cited a statistic from PEW Research’s U.S. adults Survey 2020 that “Latinas create small businesses 6 times faster than any other group in America.” The Latino Donor Collaborative said that Latinos “are starting businesses at a faster pace than other groups, with 44% growth in the last 10 years compared to 4% for non-Latinos.” 

Two is about opening a door to offer financial resources and platforms and opportunities to talk with fiduciary advisors. Three is to give access to career professional development and negotiate equal pay. Visitors who click on the app will find access to English and Spanish-speaking financial advisors, videos, some live webinars, wealth planning tools for individuals and business owners, articles, career advice, and information on Latinas in business. What we want to do is to have a comprehensive, culturally relevant, and holistic app focusing on Latinas’ needs through their lens.

So, when we observe Latina Equal Pay Day on December 8, we encourage people to coordinate and align goals, strategies, and alliances with others to bring up discussions about this topic and best practices. Recently, SHENIX Co-Founder Patricia Mota gave a presentation called “Mind the Gap, Close the Gap” at the Reykjavik Global Forum. Patricia will join fellow SHENIX Co-Founder Olga Camargo as they will serve as panelists on December 8 at the Latinas Equal Pay Day Luncheon at the United Nations. We need to help Latinas access tools to increase their financial power and educate employers about a Latina’s worth in the workplace. 

Olga Camargo, Patricia Mota, and Juan Carlos Avila are co-founders of Chicago-based SHENIX. SHENIX is an innovative financial company built by Latinas/x, for Latinas/x, providing culturally relevant financial services to the Latina/x community to help them accelerate their economic and social transformation while prioritizing their cultural mindset. 

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