A Millennial Latina on Pay Inequality and Business Distrust

However, I don’t believe gender and ethnicity are solely responsible for compensation inequality. We must admit and become self-aware that our own set of cultural values, expectations and upbringing play a role in how Latinx women view themselves in business and the workplace. We have been late to recognize, protect and defend our right to grow and climb up the corporate ladder. Quite frequently, I’ve heard how my commitment to my job and career success intimidates others and shows I don’t have, or want to make, time in my personal life to fulfill other gender and cultural duties. I’ve also heard that, as a Latina, I should be thankful and grateful that I have a good job and that I am financially independent, and I have especially been told that I must be humble and modest about this last point. Let me say, I have worked and earned my way here, but let me add that I am not totally sure if at any point during my career I have been discriminated against by unequal pay.

The U.S. Multicultural cut of the recently published 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that Latinas are far less trusting of the Business institution compared to Latinos (49% vs 60%). When Latinas were asked how much they trust NGO’s, Business, Government and Media to do the right thing, Business commands the largest gap (11 percentage points) in distrust versus Latinos. I believe Latinas are questioning if businesses can be trusted in part because we know that we could be getting paid unfairly. There is a direct correlation between uncertainty and distrust.

Last week, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris proposed closing the gender pay gap by requiring companies to disclose pay data and secure an “equal pay certification” or be fined. Her proposal aims to shift the burden from workers, who now must prove pay discrimination by employers, to businesses, which would have to show they eliminated pay disparities between men and women doing work of equal value. The pressure will continue to mount, but earning trust starts with transparency. Let’s start here, and then, let’s all keep our word and promises to stand up for and do the right thing.

Being aware of our probable pay inequality doesn’t come without consequences to businesses and employers. As a Latina executive, I’ve come to recognize our powerful contributions to an organization. Latinas bring high levels of passion, loyalty, trust and collaboration to the work environment, and their desire to lead and achieve results acts as a magnet that moves others to go farther. However, if Latinas are doubtful of their organizational value and unsure if they get equal pay for equal work, businesses (consciously and unconsciously) promote minimum effort, higher turnover, disengagement from the company mission and purpose, and a loss of leadership, initiative, and creativity.



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