November 1 is designated national Latina Equal Pay Day – a date that draws attention to the fact that Latinas have had to work for one year, ten months and a day to catch up with what white men earned in the previous calendar year. For Latina workers, this amounts to a pay gap of roughly 47 percent.
This National Latina Equal Pay Day, Montclair State – a designated Hispanic Serving Institution – and partner Latina Surge hosted an event focused on equal pay issues in the Hispanic Community. The event, which featured a keynote address by New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, was live-streamed on Facebook from the Feliciano School of Business.
“Montclair State is honored to host the Latina Equal Pay Day event. As a prestigious academic institution and, especially because we are designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, we have the responsibility to engage in issues of equity and social justice,” says Katia Paz Goldfarb, Montclair State University Assistant Vice President for Hispanic Serving Initiatives. “Equal pay for Latinas is certainly at the top of the list.”
Elisa Charters, President of Lean In Circle Latina Surge, which advocates for diversity and inclusion everywhere from the workplace to the marketplace, kicked off the event with welcoming remarks and introductions of the featured speakers.
In addition to Goldfarb, Sara Pena, Director of New Jersey Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development; Valeria Aloe, Director of Entrepreneurship Training, Statewide Hispanic chamber of Commerce of New Jersey; and Dr. Shreni Zinzuwadia, a Newark, New Jersey emergency room physician delivered brief remarks that addressed issues of equal pay and empowerment for Latinas.
An Institutional Commitment to Inclusion
Before introducing First Lady Tammy Murphy, Montclair State President Susan A. Cole underscored the importance of the University’s growing Latin population. Today, while 29 percent of Montclair State’s students are Hispanic, 34 percent of the incoming freshman class is Hispanic and the total Latina population of the University’s undergraduate and graduate students is close to 20 percent.
“We are going absolutely in the right direction,” Cole said. “It’s something that didn’t happen all by itself. It happened because this institution and all the people who work in it are committed to making sure we are serving the whole population. All are welcome here. “
Equal Pay for All
For First Lady Tammy Murphy, supporting women’s rights – including the right to receive equal pay for equal work – is a key policy initiative.
Murphy’s keynote address acknowledged the work grass roots organizations like Latina Surge are doing to promote equal opportunity and commended Montclair State for its commitment to educating students from diverse backgrounds.
She also recognized New Jersey’s historic Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act – the nation’s strongest Equal Pay Act – mandating equal pay for all, that Governor Murphy signed in April. She also noted that New Jersey state agencies and offices can no longer ask about salary history – an order signed by her husband on his first day of office in January.
“We need strong leaders,” she said. “Women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. African-American women earn 52 cents on the dollar. For Latinas, it’s 42 cents – and that’s exactly why we are here today. This is 2018. This is unacceptable.”
Murphy added, “Women deserve equal pay for equal work. We have more work to do so women will enjoy greater economic power and freedom.”
Charters wrapped up the event by urging everyone to share the #47PercentCounts hash tag to continue to remind people that there is still much that can be done to bridge the Latina pay gap.