Santa Clara Co. community groups acknowledge Latina Equal Pay Day to close wage gap for women

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Sunday, October 8, 2023
Bay Area groups acknowledge Latina Equal Pay Day to close wage gap
A call to action by community leaders in the South Bay for more equal pay for Latinas.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A call to action Friday by community leaders in the South Bay.

They came together to acknowledge "Latina Equal Pay Day," calling on local leaders and businesses to close the wage gap.

Thursday marked Latina Equal Pay Day and Friday, the summit of community leaders and businesses came together to acknowledge it.

Latina Equal Pay Day is the approximate day Latinas have to work into the new year to make what their male counterparts made at the end of the year before.

"It takes a Latina 22 months to make what a white male counterpart would make in one year's time," said Gabriela Chavez-Lopez, executive director of the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, "So they almost have to work two years' time to make that of their white male counterparts. That isn't fair, that isn't sustainable."

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According to data provided to UCLA, Latinas nationally are paid 52 cents on the dollar compared to white, non-Hispanic men.

Overall, Latinas in California are paid 51 cents on the dollar compared to white men.

Those in California with a bachelor's degree are paid 42 cents on the dollar.

"It's so backwards, it actually works to where the higher education and the more degrees that you receive, the larger the wage gap widens," Chavez-Lopez said, "So it's kind of opposite of what you would think. It's because things are more competitive, there's higher wages, you're competing at higher levels of leadership."

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Chavez-Lopez says locally, the wage gap can be even wider.

"Women of color, particularly Black, and Latina women, as well as Indigenous women really get the short end of the stick," she said, "The number one reason is discrimination in the workplace."

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But advocates stress in the long run, it's better for business to be equitable.

Javier Diaz, CEO of OSI Engineering says the salaries they offer are based only on experience and value, something that's benefitted his company.

"It increases morale, and it also increases diversity in the company," he said, "As we know, here, the Silicon Valley and throughout the world, having a diverse workforce, you're able to accomplish more and do more with a with a diverse workforce."

HLX+ is also one of the groups pushing for wage equality locally and nationwide.

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They say the conversations sparked by Latina Equal Pay day need to continue year round.

"One of the messages we want to get across in our program today is to show programs that are working," said Edward Vargas president of the HLX+ northwest region, "How to put those metrics in place and collaborate with people to move the needle."

As calls continue for businesses to do better, Chavez-Lopez says responsibility also needs to be placed on government.

She says the coalition and partner organizations will continue to add pressure until the wage gap is closed.

"I think it's important for all of us, just to know that this is something that's needed and wanted in our communities," she said, "Everyone benefits when women in particular are paid fairly and equally for equal work."

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