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The Latina Exodus

November 2, 2016, 2:30 PM UTC

On Tuesday, it was #LatinaEqualPay Day, marking the nearly 305 extra calendar days it would take for Latinas to equal what non-Hispanic white men took home last year. Yes, that’s nearly an entire year of additional, full-time work. Latina employees are paid less than every other race or gender in the United States, but the gap is widest with white men: They get 54% of what white men get paid for similar work.

What does this mean for your talent pipeline? Latina employees are underpaid, overworked and opting out. More on that in a moment.

The wage gap has serious ramifications. A study published earlier this year by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) shows that the gender wage gap for Latinas is more than $ 1 million over their lifetimes. “In fact, what you see is that the wage gap gets bigger over the course of a woman’s career,” Emily Martin, NWLC general counsel and vice president for workplace justice, told Fortune last April. “If you start making a little less and then your raises are based on a percentage of your salary, the gap grows over time.”

There are many possible reasons for this. Part of the issue is that Latinas are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and are often financially penalized for their caregiving roles. But that doesn’t explain the jobs that require specialized training or advanced degrees – like financial services or physicians – with similarly wide gender-based gaps.

These dismal numbers mean that Latinx talent is opting out of corporate life in increasing numbers. According to The Kauffman Index: Startup Activity 2015, last year more than 40% of new entrepreneurs were African American, Latinx or Asian, an increase across all categories. The majority of those new entrepreneurs were Latinx, who accounted for 22.1% of the new entrepreneurs last year. But Latina and black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country.

Ana Flores understands the impulse. “I definitely abandoned the corporate world,” she says. Flores left a career in corporate media (MTV, Univision and NBC) to found the #WeAllGrow Latina Network, a marketing agency that creates campaigns and live events for brands that want to connect with Latina consumers.

“One of the biggest barriers we face in our executive lives is the lack of inclusive work environments that value and promote diversity,” she says, adding that Latinas are typically perceived as a homogenous group, saddled with identical stereotypes. The Cinco de Mayo parties just don’t cut it. “In fact, as a cultural group, we’re multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, with many diverse backgrounds, countries of origin and levels of acculturation and assimilation to the U.S.”

That makes it hard to find sponsors, mentors and role models to lead the way.

Flores’s firm is actually a network of Latina women, some 2,300 bloggers, social media figures and entrepreneurs who participate in online and offline initiatives, like a home safety campaign for Tide detergent, or a bi-lingual Twitter party for Disney’s Elena of Avalor. She says it’s a smart way for brands to reach Latina consumers who have a spending power of $1.3 trillion and who primarily look to each other for purchasing advice.

But companies like hers serve a secondary, and perhaps more important, purpose, she says. It’s also a mission. “We’ve taken matters into our own hands to provide what corporate life could not,” she says. “We’re a networking community that offers mentorship and peer support,” she says. “We really do help each other grow in other areas of our lives, including our corporate work, in entrepreneurship and even politically.”

On Point

Responsible lending to Latinx businesses is a good businessLatinx-owned businesses are the largest and fastest growing underbanked business segment in the U.S, says expert Sean Salas, in an opinion piece for Forbes. Language is less a problem then cultural understanding, he says. But as more Latinx entrepreneurs enter the marketplace without access to reliable financing, they are stumbling into real problems – like predatory lenders, who might ultimately derail otherwise well-conceived business ideas.Forbes

Latinas have power in the workplace and are learning to use it
Noreen Farrell, the Chair of the national Equal Pay Today! Campaign digs into the elements of the Latina pay gap more forcefully in this Medium post. She describes the unique burden of pregnant Latinas, whose rights are routinely ignored by employers, and a class action suit designed to change that. “We have power. Let’s use it,” she says.

California considers reversing a ban on bilingual education
California mandated English-only instruction in schools nearly two decades ago. This year, Proposition 58 would lessen those restrictions, giving parents an ability to choose a school that would offer a better approach to educating the state’s 1.3 million English-language learners. Advocates say it’s long overdue, but opponents are prepared to battle.

Communities most unsettled by population changes tend to be drawn to Trump
Change can be frightening, that much is clear. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting analysis of Census data that show that a distinct cluster of towns in the Midwest - Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota - that have racially diversified more quickly than anyplace else in the country. As a result of rapid change and economic pressures, the politics in these towns have also changed quickly.
Wall Street Journal

Lawsuit alleges racially motivated voter purge in North Carolina
Voting rights advocates filed an emergency petition in federal court alleging that three North Carolina counties have systematically purged eligible voters from their rolls and that the action disproportionately affects African Americans. "This is a national disgrace, this is a constitutional disgrace, and this is a moral disgrace," the Reverend William Barber II, the head of the North Carolina state conference of the NAACP, told reporters.
Mother Jones

SAP offers new benefits for transgender employees
The medical benefits cover the gamut of unique needs that transgender employees (or their transgender dependents) may face, including counseling and specialized surgery. Although the number of people who will enjoy the benefits is small, it’s the awareness of the potential need that matters. “[I]t is aligned with our commitment to try to offer benefits that are inclusive for those who need it,” says SAP North America’s head of human resources.

The Woke Leader

A fun playlist to learn history and Spanish vocabulary
For those who are celebrating, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) ends today. If you’re looking to dig deeper into the origins of the holiday, or help your kids learn some vocabulary words, here is an all-Spanish YouTube Kids app playlist, hosted by the characters of the popular animated series, La Leyenda del Chupacabras. There are 23 short videos, each one a gem.

A curriculum to better understand the issues at Standing Rock
A group of indigenous scholars and activists called NYC Stands with Standing Rock has put together an extraordinary syllabus that offers deep background on the specific issues facing the indigenous community in North Dakota, combined with an exhaustive set of materials about settler colonialism in the United States. (It goes back to 1492.) They’ve also collected letters of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from professors at Columbia University, The New School, SUNY Binghamton, Stony Brook University, and Connecticut College.
NYC Stands With Standing Rock

A flawed, destructive theory of policing still persists
The idea that addressing the small signs of disorder – broken windows, graffiti, panhandling, subway fare-beaters, would prevent more serious criminal activity, took root in the 1990s, and changed the way the NYC police department focused their efforts. It turns out that “broken window” policing was not only utterly unsuccessful, it created problems that have destroyed entire communities.
Hidden Brain


You have to be doing things that matter, responsibility, but also responsibility with epic and beautiful and noble tasks.
—Michelle Bachelet