Voices of Latina and Black Women on Pay Equity

Kelly Feng, Managing Editor

Madison College held a series of events during Equal Pay Week, held April 10-14 this year. One event was a virtual presentation titled “Speaking Truth With Power: Voices of Latina and Black Women on Pay Equity.”
Facilitated by Rhoda McKinney, a Madison College employee for over 24 years, now serving as an Adult Recruiter for Individuals beyond High School, the presentation was a conversation with influential women of color leaders who have long dealt with career challenges.
The panel featured Ida Balderrama-Trudell, whose long career includes serving as a special assistant and chief of staff to senior leadership, and Sarita Mannigel, the Director of Human Resources Operations, at Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin.
Rounding out the panel was Jasmia Hamilton, the Program Manager of the Well Black Woman® Institute and Founder of Innovative DEI, a diversity, equity and inclusion-focused organizational development consulting firm.
The panel discussed Latina and Black women’s unique pay, equity and fair career advancement challenges.
All three offered a different perspective on Latina and Black women’s biggest workplace barriers to success.
For Balderrama-Trudell, the biggest challenge is mentoring or the need for mentoring.
She said we must teach women how to advocate for themselves with companies offering employee resource groups. She said employees should not have to pay for mentoring resources.
“It should be something that should be policy within companies to provide formal mentoring or coaching for people as they’re started to advance in their careers,” Balderrama-Trudell said.
Hamilton said that our imagination was the most significant barrier. She said that when we think of advancement, we often think of a man and typically, a white man.
She said we must recalibrate our workplace and affirm that Latina and Black women are leaders.
“We need to interrupt our default and our collective imagination of who can be a successful leader,” Hamilton said.
Before she was an executive, Mannigel was a single parent looking for affordable child care, which she still believes is a huge barrier.
The second barrier is self-doubt. “Self-doubt comes from inside because we don’t take the time to care for ourselves.”
One form of workplace self-care is to offer more benefits from human resources, saying those benefits must be inclusive enough to all.
The panel discussed how they could encourage companies to adopt a more equitable hiring practice and create more inclusive work environments for underrepresented populations.
Balderrama-Trudell said to tap into your employees who know where to find employees of color. “(Companies) have to have a clear plan. You can’t hope people will find your company.”
Transparency is key. DEI benefits and job descriptions, along with pay, should be listed.
“DEI efforts should be clear so somebody comes into that process has information,” Balderrama-Trudell said.
For Hamilton, it’s about retention; and while companies can hire young, racially diverse employees, how do they retain them? Building capacity and resilience is crucial.
“We are complex human beings with some defaults,” Hamilton said.
What strategies can promote diversity, equity and inclusion in your workplace and industry?
Mannigel said to take research and put it into action.
Beginning with a clear career pathway is very critical. Having training and developing options, which returns to the need for health benefits.
“Being part of an employee DEI that helps promote women’s leadership with a clear career pathway is critical,” Mannigel said.
For Hamilton, it’s all about the mindset.
She said she was a young single parent with a fair share of challenges.
As she approaches 30, she now has three advanced degrees. She said companies must look at the future potential and what a company culture can be.
“What happens if we embrace the possibility that our workplaces can be just? Everyone can experience belonging, and folks can be productive and have opportunities for rest, engagement or things that bring them joy?”