Recognizing the Importance of Opportunity on Latina Equal Pay Day

By Oscar Casillas - 2021-10-21

Across the U.S. in 2020, Latinas earned just 57 cents of every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men, meaning that it takes until Oct. 21 of the following year before a Latina’s pay catches up with what these men made the previous year. That translates to more than $1 million in lost wages over the course of a Latina’s career.

On this Latina Equal Pay Day, I’m proud that, at Micron, we actively assess our pay equity at least once a year. In the United States this year, we achieved equitable pay for our Hispanic/Latino team members as well as for Blacks and veterans. That’s on top of achieving equitable pay around the world for women and people with disabilities. (We’ve achieved global gender pay equity since 2018.) But as a Latino man, I know equitable pay is just one of many important factors in helping all Hispanics/Latinos succeed.

Should we Latinos just be grateful — or should we expect more?

I was a first-generation college student. According to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, I’m representative of the 44% of Hispanic/Latino people who are the first in their families to go to college. Our parents immigrated to the U.S. looking for a better life for us, and we were always told we should be grateful just to be here.

That advice, though well intentioned, hasn’t always served us. It takes more than just hard work to succeed in the workplace. By asking senior engineers in my organization for advice, I learned that, in addition to working hard, I needed to also step up to challenging projects, work efficiently and self-promote my accomplishments to the right people. Once I followed this direction, my career took off.

As a young engineer at a previous employer, I had a female colleague who was experiencing obstacles in advancing her career and her pay. We had the same education and work experience, but she was earning far less than me. She raised the issue with our employer, but it wasn’t addressed. And she was hesitant to pursue it further.

I hadn’t yet learned about working smarter and advocating for myself, so I couldn’t share that knowledge with my colleague. But now, at Micron, I’m so proud that we are taking action with a new program to help Hispanic/Latino team members learn how to leverage our heritage and values to succeed at work.

Latinos should expect more — and Micron has resources to help

This year, Micron implemented a program called the 90-day leadership sprint, and we made it available to everyone who self-reported as Hispanic/Latino. Through this program, we help Micron’s Hispanic/Latino community members understand how to use their heritage and culture as assets in the workplace and how to create a career action plan. This planning process includes advice about how to have career conversations with managers.

The program also helps managers of people from the Hispanic/Latino community learn how to communicate better and create a more welcoming and inclusive experience for these team members. It has been a great success. “My supervisor’s feedback was very positive,” said Rosie Avila-Hernandez, senior manager in the DRAM Engineering Group. “He said participating in the module for supervisors improved his awareness of Latino culture, and he learned key statistics on the Latino community in the U.S.”

Micron is also working hard to identify qualified Hispanic/Latino people through strategic recruiting efforts at Hispanic-serving institutions and partnerships with organizations like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. We know we have work to do to increase Hispanic/Latino representation, especially in leadership and technical fields. And once these team members join us, we also know we need to help them feel welcome and included and to provide career resources for their advancement.

That’s why I’m so excited about the 90-day leadership sprint. I’m also proud that Micron recognizes important cultural events like Hispanic Heritage Month, which just concluded on Oct. 15. Our Micron Hispanic Professionals employee resource group developed programs and conversations with Hispanic/Latino leaders to inspire our team members to achieve their best careers.

As we’ve learned from the 2020 census, the nation is diversifying faster than predicted, and people from underrepresented communities will soon be the majority of the nation’s youth and working-age population. Micron knows it is imperative that businesses seeking to lead future innovation not only close the wage gap but also learn how to welcome, develop and advance Hispanic/Latino talent.

I benefited from having strong mentors who helped me advance. I’m proud to be part of an organization that is committed to not leaving those mentorships to chance, an organization that is intentionally fostering relationships to help our Hispanic/Latino team members succeed.

Image of Oscar Casillas

Oscar Casillas

Micron’s Director of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI) Oscar Casillas leads the strategy and operational excellence team, which delivers a variety of strategic programs to support DEI at Micron. Passionate about engineering and people, Oscar transitioned to DEI after 20 years in engineering, with the aim of bringing an engineering mindset and touch to all things DEI.