60 Seconds With ... Robert Espinoza

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Robert Espinoza, Vice President of Policy,  Direct workforce organization PHI
Robert Espinoza, Vice President of Policy, Direct workforce organization PHI

Q: A recent PHI study examined racial and gender disparities in the direct care workforce. What was the most surprising finding to you?

A: That women of color have higher poverty rates even though they have higher incomes. That was counterintuitive. But if you look closely, women of color are making more per year because they are working more hours. 

Q: Why are there these differences?

A: People of color have historically been relegated to low-wage sectors and paid caregiving has always been seen as women's work. It creates an inflow of women of color into the sector.

Q: What can providers do?

A: We need to have a conversation in general about increasing the wages, training and career advancement, and ensuring benefits. If there were better training or access to financial planning, these targeted supports can make employees economically stronger. 

Q: Is there interest in changing?

A: It behooves providers to think about how to strengthen the pipeline of workers. Providers often don't want to invest in these workers because they think it won't pay out, and the obstacles that providers face can be confounding. Many want to do the right thing but are so overwhelmed.