Today is #LatinaEqualPay Day, the day in the United States where Latinas, on average, can catch up to what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts made the year before. Latinas earn 57 cents to the dollar or $28,911 less per year, on average. Yes, Latinas had to work an extra ten months to make what white men earned last year. That’s more than 46 additional weeks, 324 days, or 7,776 hours. Latinas have the largest pay gap of any group in this country, but we are not the only ones who experience pay disparities.
Here’s a couple of facts you should know:
Organizations such as Justice for Migrant Women, Equal Pay Today!, The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, MomsRising/MamasConPoder, Center for American Progress, and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research are partnering to close the wage gap for all and develop policies that bring these issues to the forefront.
Working as a leadership coach for Latinas, I’ve found that we are comfortable speaking about the impact of issues on others, but not ourselves.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the #LatinaWageGap (What have you been doing? I talk about it all the time on LinkedIn) you are not the only one. A 2019 poll by Lean In found that only 1 in 3 Americans know that the pay gap is different for Latinas.
If you are a Latina who is tired of waiting for policies and systemic change, or just not ready to wait until 2206 to reach equal pay, I got you. Here are 5 steps you can take today to close the income inequality gap at home and start building generational wealth.
Five Ways Latinas Can Close The Wage Gap At Home
Become a Sought Out Expert
I know we are already overworked, but this is not about downloading a new social media platform to your cellphone or creating a viral TikTok trend (except if that’s your thing, then go-ahead chica). Working as a leadership coach for Latinas, I’ve found that we are comfortable speaking about the impact of issues on others, but not ourselves. We also tend to stay within the confines of what our resume says and the types of jobs we have done in the past. What I am asking you to do is to forget about what your resume says, and think beyond the limitations of your current job or business.
These are ways to increase your income and get paid to provide valuable information for what you are best positioned to empower people.
I teach Latina leaders to develop a professional brand that gets them opportunities right in their DMs and emails, and here are some tips to help you do the same—becoming a topic expert so you can explore public speaking, writing, content creation, teaching, and much more. These are ways to increase your income and get paid to provide valuable information for what you are best positioned to empower people.
Ask yourself “what could I talk about for a whole hour in front of a group without having to prepare before”? Write down your responses and then identify your top 3 topics.
Examine the topics to find your “zone of genius” (The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks). Think how your skills, story, background, culture, and everything that makes you YOU position you to talk about these topics in a way that nobody else could. Your response will also help you decide how broad or specific you want to go and who are the people who will benefit from your knowledge.
Explore what your listener or reader is already interested in learning about. Your zone of genius might be teaching US-born Puertorricans how to cook the healthiest flan that tastes just like the one your abuela made but a quick Google search might get you to a lot of blog posts about holiday cooking. Competition is always good. It tells you what is working, what opportunity areas exist, and ways to collaborate with others. Curious about my zone of genius? I coach Latina leaders to go from burned out to thriving in their careers and business.
Now that you have 2-3 topics to talk about… I’m joking, you didn’t follow my advice, and you have a list of 10 and have spent the last hour researching and writing 5 sub-topics for each topic. Hey, they are not even topics anymore; you separated them by themes. You are now a marketing, social media, education advocacy, local organizing, mom of 3, healthy cooking, time management, sales expert, TikTok dancer Latina. STOP… Didn’t you read that Latinas are the lowest paid group in the US, and culturally we hold the burden of supporting our families, like ALL THE FAMILIES?
The most important thing about successfully launching your professional brand (or a business) is to clarify your specific value to your perfect client or client avatar. You are passionate about many things and many topics, and you will have the opportunity to create visibility around them all, but to become a sought-out expert you need to be clear on what you can do better than others. Then partner with other experts to elevate their voices in their zones of genius. That way, you have a clear path to attract money, resources, and the right people to work with you.
Negotiate your Salary and Raise Your Prices
When was the last time you negotiated your salary or prices for your business? If it was more than a year ago, then it is time to negotiate.
(Negotiations) should also happen during the performance review, when your day-to-day work significantly changes, when you have a new title, or cuando te de la gana.
If you are currently working, make a habit of documenting your impact and how you have grown in your role or company. Negotiating your salary and benefits needs to go hand in hand with a discussion about your growth, the challenges you face, and what you learned from them. Again, this is the time to talk about how you are best positioned to support the company’s mission and bottom line.
Negotiations usually happen during the hiring process, but they should also happen during the performance review, when your day-to-day work significantly changes, when you have a new title, or cuando te de la gana (whenever you want to). Your job might already have a process or a preferred timeline for these discussions, usually close to the end of the fiscal year, but that doesn’t mean that you are limited to this time frame.
For entrepreneurs and business owners, your prices need to reflect the value of the service or product you provide and not just the market price. Speak to your top clients and get clear on the real results your business provides. You might be a consultant that helps organizations develop strategic plans. The document might be what you provide them, but the result is 3-5 years of decision-making and revenue-inducing activities that impact hundreds of stakeholders and keep the work aligned for all teams.
The only way to demystify money and create the life you want for yourself is by talking about it.
Your business can be a t-shirt business you run from your basement where you create Latina-inspired products that remind us of our childhood. The way you package your products, the stories behind your message, the quotes you use, and the reminder of growing up with our families close by should also be reflected in your pricing.
Remember, what is it that you do better than others, and what is the impact of this work. Talk to your clients constantly and make them a part of your decision-making process so they are invested in your business and success just like you are with them.
Talk About Money… every single day.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from reading We Should All Be Millionaires by Rachel Rodgers was her recommendation of checking your account balance every single day. She explains that you should know where your money is going, how you are spending it, and catch any trends or irregularities right away. As scary as this might be, it is imperative that you talk about money every single day with your significant other, your family, and especially with yourself.
(Investing in yourself) is the kick in the butt you need to realize that what you’ve been doing is no longer working so it is time for a change.
Talking about money is not sharing your account balance with everyone, but you need to build the habit of discussing your salary with others, learning about investment accounts, exploring ways to earn more money, donate to causes you are passionate about, reviewing your budget, setting financial goals, talking to a financial advisor, listening to audiobooks or reading about money (start with You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero) and following Latinas who talk about money like @dinerochronicles @investinglatina @msinformedlatina @latinamoneymoms @financiallysavvylatina. The only way to demystify money and create the life you want for yourself is by talking about it.
Invest in Your Development (and Changing Your Mindset)
Ninety percent of the Latinas I have worked with as a leadership coach have said that this is the first time they are investing in themselves outside of higher education. The average age of my clients is around 34 years old, and they are all senior leaders or executives in social-impact companies. By the time they finish coaching, they are ready to make investments in themselves and make their personal development part of their budget and encourage the women in their lives to do the same.
As scary as it may feel, investing in yourself (out of your pocket) does two things: it starts changing your mindset to knowing that you are worth your time and money, and its the kick in the butt you need to realize that what you’ve been doing is no longer working so it is time for a change.
I call myself a recovering perfectionist because I spent most of my young and adult life trying to be perfect at everything and then failed.
This act, whether a $27 online class or a $10k coaching program, is reframing what spending money means to you and leads you to make better decisions for yourself. Investing in your development and changing your mindset about defining your success moves you from surviving to prioritizing what matters most. Because you spent money, you have a stake in the game, now there are fewer distractions, and it’s easier to say no to things that no longer bring you joy. You can set boundaries with your loved ones and at work and focus on your impact rather than your to-do list.
Be Unapologetically Yourself
Let me start by saying this. You are not the only one who is struggling with everything. From the Pinterest-worthy moms to the TikTok laughing and dancing 20 year old, to the successful public-speaking LinkedIn entrepreneur, we are all struggling because systemic oppression is real and intentional.
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act”. - Caroline Caldwell
This recommendation is all about breaking up with perfectionism. I call myself a recovering perfectionist because I spent most of my young and adult life trying to be perfect at everything and then failed. Don’t get me wrong; perfectionism allowed me to grow in my career quickly and be labeled “high-performer” or “goes above and beyond”, but it was all about what others needed from me, and never what I needed to do be happy and joyful.
Experiencing systemic oppression doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful.
Perfectionism also made me bitter, burned out, and overwhelmed. After guilting myself for a long time, I realized that as much as I could change my mindset and work on myself through therapy, there is always a big chunk of this insecurity and weight on my shoulders that comes from white supremacy culture. Perfection is what society expected of me, as a model minority, without giving me anything back other than a lot of medical debt.
Experiencing systemic oppression doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful. Still, instead of ignoring our environment and how it affects us, it is crucial to understand what we can control ourselves and what external influences might affect our decision-making.
It makes your goals be about you and what brings you joy.
You might have a goal to lose weight and share your story on an online blog, but understanding the why of that goal will help you go from “because I feel overweight” to “because I want to have peace of mind that I can start hiking and traveling with my family without being scared that I might get sick or burnedout”. Like I do with my clients when we set a goal, ask yourself why now and what does that give you five times.
Knowing your why doesn’t erase that the media and everything around you give you messages that state what a perfect and healthy body looks like or that fatphobia affects people get access to jobs and opportunities. Still, it makes your goals be about you and what brings you joy. Doing this exercise might also teach you to explore some of these topics with a therapist or a counselor before working on them.
By being unapologetically yourself, knowing your why, growing your income, and positioning yourself as a thought leader in what you do best, lets you be the disruptor our communities need so we can close the wage gap for our and future generations.
Paulette Piñero is the owner of LEAD Media LLC, a leadership coaching and management consulting firm that coaches Latina leaders to go from burned-out to thriving in their careers and business.