Guest Blog written by Ana Larrea-Albert ’00, ’14

“Wait, what?” That is what I kept thinking as I was reviewing the salary information of a younger, white, male employee I had recently been hired to supervise. “Is it really that much?” I kept asking myself when making the calculations in my head and then on the calculator in case my mental math was faulty.

My new report was making 35% more in salary than me. “How could this happen? Why?”

I brought this up to my supervisor hoping that he would reconsider my salary and bump it to at least the same if not a bit more. To my surprise, his response was, “I guess we overpaid.” What a dehumanizing way to consider someone’s value! After several conversations with HR, not only did my salary remain the same, but I was forced to reduce his official salary to slightly less than mine and then leave the rest of his agreed pay as a large bonus that I had to manage and decide if he deserved. That was the worst outcome to both me and my report.

Did the company think that this pay disparity was OK because I was a woman, a Latina, not smart enough to realize? Or brave enough to bring it up to management? I cannot say with certainty, but both you and I know this was not an isolated case.

October 29th is named the Latina Equal Pay Day as the symbolic date dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap. This day symbolizes how far into an additional year Latinas must work to earn what the average white man earns in just the previous calendar year. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Latinas make 54 cents to each dollar paid to white men, a pay gap of 46%, with a still significant 31% pay gap between Latinas and white women. This affects all minority women: African-American women are paid 64 cents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The Latina pay gap is the greatest, and considering Hispanics are the largest minority in the country, the numbers don’t add up on any front.

To refute the claim that Latinas opt for lower paying jobs, the research from and McKinsey compares Latinas and white men across disciplines and professions, and even education levels. The gap occurs at every level and the numbers look extremely familiar to my personal experience.

What can we do about it? I, for one, have dedicated the past five years to raising the profiles of amazing Latina professionals on the Latina Leadership Collective platform, to show the world how educated, competent, ambitious and ready to step into leadership roles we are as a community. I became a certified executive leadership coach to equip my fellow Latina professionals with leadership, personal branding and strategic networking skills. I mentor Latina students with a special interest in first-generation students. I lead workshops. I speak at schools, companies and Hispanic organizations. I wrote a bilingual children’s book series to encourage our Latinitas to dream big and take action. For years I did all this as a side hobby, a passion that fueled me beyond my responsibilities as a full-time executive at an international company. I did not complain about the situation — I pulled my sleeves up and did something about it.

Knowing that this passion was more than a side hobby, I decided to pivot my career and go back to school to pursue a Master in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. There I have been able to feed my curiosity and fulfill my need to act by continuing to research and learn about leadership and development.

Although as a community we are thankful for the role models such as Myrna Soto, Yvonne Garcia, Nina Vaca, and many other inspiring Latinas who have built and led companies across the country, we have yet to make a mark in the highest echelons of corporate America. In 2019 we lost the first and only Fortune 500 Latina CEO, Geisha Williams from PG&E Corp. There’s a lot more work to do.

I like the metaphor that diversity and inclusion efforts open the doors to the party, but Latinas need to have the right moves once they get on the dance floor. I’m hoping to equip my fellow Latinas with the moves and let their talent and ambition shine all the way to the top.

Guest Blog written by Ana Larrea-Albert ’00, ’14

Originally from Ecuador, Ana moved to Boca Raton as a young adult and continued to feel a strong association with her Latina roots. In 2010, she founded the Latina Leadership Collective to mentor and change the professional narrative of Latinas.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Florida Atlantic University and returned to earn her MBA in International Business. She serves on the FAU Alumni Association Board of Directors and is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Administration at Harvard Kennedy School.