Closing The Gap

Today is Latina Women's Equal Pay Day—here's what some companies are doing to close their 47% pay gap

Adult Hispanic woman CEO in a conference meeting room alone. 
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Eleven months into 2018, Latina Women's Equal Pay Day has finally arrived.

Nov. 1 marks the point at which Latina women have earned as much as white men earned in 2017. Latina women earn 47 percent less than white men, or 53 cents for every dollar a white man earns. Recognition of their equal pay day falls nine months after Asian-American Women's Equal Pay Day in February, seven months after White Women's Equal Pay Day in April, three months after Black Women's Equal Pay Day in August and two months after Native-American Women's Equal Pay Day in September.

But despite symbolic recognition of this day, there's still a lack of awareness around the pay gap Latina women face.

A new report released by SurveyMonkey and LeanIn.Org found that 30 percent of Americans say they are not aware that Latinas are paid less than white men. Roughly 57 percent of people who are aware of this pay gap underestimate its size.

Forty-two percent of Americans think that Latinas and white women are paid equally. When asked specifically about their own workplaces, 75 percent of working Americans assert that no pay gap exists between Latina and white women at their company.

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Jillesa Gebhardt, a research scientist at SurveyMonkey, tells CNBC Make It that when considering the survey's findings, she's most surprised by the amount of people who didn't believe a gap existed in their own organization.

"It's like there is a sense of denial," she says. "It's the idea that, 'This pay gap exist and it's unfortunate, but I wouldn't work for a company that does this.'"

Sarah Cho, SurveyMonkey's research director, says that one way to ensure women are, in fact, receiving equal pay and treatment is for companies to place just as much emphasis on inclusion as they do on diversity.

"Our research has shown that even if companies do a great job with creating a diverse workforce, they fall short with making it inclusive," says Cho. "What we have seen is that minority workers at many companies feel they are not included and they feel the hiring decisions, promotion decisions and pay decisions are not fair or transparent. And so I think one thing that companies can do is make sure they are transparent about those numbers, and transparent about fostering an inclusive culture."

One organization making headway in creating more inclusive workplaces is software company Intuit. Women at Intuit earn an average of 99.4 cents to every dollar earned by white men, and minorities at the company earn 99.1 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

Jimena Almendares, Intuit's VP of Global Expansion and head of the Latinx network, says she's proud of her company's efforts towards closing that gap. In addition to measuring salary numbers twice a year, she says Intuit also places a lot of emphasis on mentoring and development, so employees can progress professionally.

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"Usually Latino groups focus on social events, like the Cinco De Mayo parties," she says. "But we also have a lot of focus on mentoring and growth, because that is ultimately what helps your career. So yes, we should keep focusing on salary, but how is your career progressing?"

Almendares says Intuit's Latinx network holds a workshop every year focused on how to build a "personal board of directors" and how to address certain challenges that are specific to your experience. "We know that sometimes Latina women, and people of color in general, will have different worries and questions than some other folks," she says, "such as how are you received as a Latino given the political context. So we create a safe space for people to come in and talk about all of their worries as professionals."

To bring further awareness to the pay gap Latina women face, LeanIn.Org has launched a #47PercentCounts campaign, partnering with companies like Lyft, Adidas, Reebok, UnidosUS and P&G. As part of the initiative, Lyft will be asking its passengers how they would feel if their trip ended when they were 47 percent of the way to their destination. At Adidas, customers will see messages about #47PercentCounts on their bag and receipts, and Reebok customers will be asked to imagine how they would feel if they received 47 percent less of their online order.

"I think LeanIn's efforts and their partnership with these companies is one of the exact right steps to bring attention to this issue," says Cho, "because when April rolls around a lot of people make a big hooray about women's equal pay day and then forget that some women still haven't reached equality."

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Adult Hispanic woman CEO in a conference meeting room alone. 
Shannon Fagan | Taxi | Getty Images
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