Business woman at work
photo: Corbis

Today is Equal Pay Day, which unfortunately means a man could start a job today and work until the end of the year and make as much money as a woman who started working on January 1st.

Not fair, is it? Nope. The situation is even more bleak for Latinas.

Latinas only make 56 cents for every dollar that a white, non-Hispanic man makes. And, to make matters worse, it doesn’t matter what industry Latinas are in or what level of education they have.

“Besides the fact that there are frequently organizational discriminatory practices, Latinas have less education, tend to limit their career choices so they can take care of the family, and don’t negotiate as much as they could,” says Mariela Dabbah, founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement.

While the data may be daunting, not all is lost. There are some moves that you can make starting TODAY that can help close the gender pay gap.


Mind Over Matter

First things first, get your mind right. In order to ask for more, you have to believe you deserve more so that you have the power to go after it, says Dabbah.

“Latinas are hit by the double whammy: being a woman and Hispanic. These two group are traditionally are brought up to remain humble, put their heads down, and work hard. It’s important to do great work, but it’s as important to know the value you bring to your organization so you can talk about it and use it to negotiate for yourself,” Dabbah says.


Research, Research, Research

Don’t go in blind. Do your homework before you get to the interview.

Knowledge is power. The more you know about the company’s salaries, financial situation, expansion plans, etc., the more you can show your value and ask for what you should get. Use websites like to get industry figures.

But for young Latinas who are just entering the workforce, Dabbah says, you should think about how much you should make and increase it by 30 percent.

Have that pay rate in mind when you sit to negotiate. Learn to talk about your value add, and then create visibility for yourself by volunteering for relevant projects and doing a memorable job.


Seek Out Powerful Mentors

Until the wage gap has reached a level playing field, learn as much as possible from those already in positions of power. Unfortunately, this person will likely be a man, until we really break the glass ceiling.

“Most executive positions are still dominated by men, so this person will likely be a man, but they can help you understand the unwritten rules of the company and introduce you to their networks,” Dabbah stresses.


Make That Uncomfortable Salary Conversation Work for You

“You MUST know what range that position pays and how much your counterparts make,” Dabbah says.

This is where your research comes in handy. Use LinkedIn for any potential connections who work at the company. And, always give a range that is higher what you think it is. For example, if human resources says, “We can offer you 50K,” but you know the position pays at least 60K, then Dabbah suggests you push back and say: “Well, the value I bring to the organization is in the 60-65K range. I have X experience, I’ve been very successful at doing X, and I’ll be able to help you with Y.”

Finally, she says that at some point you can say that you have several colleagues and friends in the industry (or in the company) who you know are getting paid in that range.