How can we fix the Latina pay gap in Arizona?
Arizona’s economic growth benefits from the Hispanic community, yet a Latina pay gap persists that shows Latinas only make half of a white man’s earnings.
In Phoenix, the Hispanic population represents approximately 1.37 million people out of Maricopa county’s 4.4 million people, according to the 2018 U.S. Census report.
Doug Ducey spoke about the economic benefits the Hispanic population brings to Arizona at a press conference at the Arizona Biltmore Friday, September 20, after the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AZHCC) released its 2019 “DATOS: The State of Arizona’s Hispanic Market” report.
“Hispanic businesses, entrepreneurs and consumers continue to be a driving force in Arizona’s economic and national success,” Gov. Doug Ducey said.
Still, Latinas on average make 51% of a white man’s earnings. This is 28% less than a white woman’s earnings, according to a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
The median wage for a Latina in Arizona is $29,685, while the median wage for a white, non-hispanic male is $53,958.
Ceci Velasquez, CEO and Co-founder of Empowering Latina Leaders in Arizona (ELLA) said that she believes the wage gap still exists, despite people not realizing it.
“It’s not something we talk about, but then again in our (Hispanic) culture, money is not something that is openly talked about,” Velasquez said.
Velasquez said that often times Latinas do not seek higher positions and wages in the workforce because they fear losing their job. Concern over stability can leave their careers stagnant.
“We don’t want to be confrontational,” Velasquez said. “We’re like, ‘This is our job, we’re grateful for that.’ So, we don’t fight for more money.”
Eliminating the gap would mean Latinas working full-time and year-round would be able to afford three or more additional years of childcare, approximately 19 additional months of mortgage payments, more than two additional years of rent and more.
The wage gap in Maricopa County is the worst in sales and legal occupations, according to the DATOS report. A woman’s earnings is 51 percent in legal occupations and 55 percent in sales.
The AAUW reports Latina workers would have to work an extra year of full-time, year-round work in order to make the same amount as an average white man in 2018.
This problem has been prominent for years. Now, Latinas themselves are working to advocate for themselves.
Monica Villalobos, the AZHCC’s new president and CEO, explained the DATOS report revealed Hispanic women-owned businesses saw a 116% growth between 2007 and 2012.
“The number of Hispanic owned businesses has doubled in the last 10 years,” Villalobos said.
As home-grown businesses are legitimizing, Latinas are becoming their own bosses.
Stephanie Vasquez, CEO of Fair Trade Cafe located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, explained that because she is her own boss, she is not impacted by the gap.
“(That is) why a lot of women start their own businesses,” Vasquez said. “I create my own ceiling.”
Vasquez also founded ELLA with Velasquez last year.
Vasquez said that one of the biggest things that has come from this organization is the Mujeres Mercado.
Mujeres Mercado’s goal is to create a space for Latina business owners to promote and sell their work. ELLA has had eight mercados since the first one, which was on Latina Equal Pay day, November 2, 2018.
“We have generated within a 4-hour span, on average, $20,000 and that is one of the biggest things we’ve been able to do in less than a year,” said Vasquez.
“I’m positive we are moving forward, not backward,” said Velasquez, “ ELLA is building our community, empowering and educating them, so we can see Arizona be more inclusive.”