Latinas sin Fronteras
Advancing Latinas may seem simple to do since, according to Catalyst perspective, the number of Latina women in the labor force has increased significantly, reaching a percentage of 5.7%, of which 3.6% are employed in areas of management, or other professional occupations. The reality is that Latina women are underrepresented in high-position jobs in Fortune 500 companies. Such companies are missing the fact that Hispanic women also represent a significant talent pool, as the number of Latina women with Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees and Doctoral degrees have not only increased, but they have also surpassed those of their male counterparts.
Much research has been focused on how minorities, and especially Latina women, bring many valuable assets to the business world. In the article Sin Fronteras by Hewlett, Shiller and Sumberg (2007), the authors list findings in which they corroborate the fact that Latina women bring many benefits to the workplace. Among the study’s results, they find that women of Hispanic origins have an impeccable work ethic, a talent for collaborating with coworkers, and the cultural fluency necessary to succeed in corporate America.
If, then, Latina women are so valuable, why are they not on demand in the business world? Why are these women underutilized? And if they are, in fact, holding jobs in the lower management positions in big corporations, what is keeping them from climbing up in the corporate ladder? There are a few companies have taken a stance in promoting Hispanic women in their high management positions. However, the question is why are many other companies ignoring these weighty facts? Research seems to point to discrimination, isolation, family focus, work life balance and the fact that Latina women feel overlooked in a business environment that is overpowered by the male Caucasian employer. These characteristics make Latinas very desirable on any corporate team:
Impeccable work ethic. Latina women possess a remarkable drive to be hard workers. Many of us have memories of our parents and grandparents going above and beyond in the workplace. These examples of working with integrity and passion are ingrained in Latinas’ work values. In fact, in the above-mentioned study, Hispanic women in executive positions were found to have a “well-developed work ethic”, and also to be respectful and loyal.
Collaborative leadership. Among many characteristics that Latina executives found to be of great importance in the workplace were: relationship skills, empathy, collaborative leadership, a capacity for humility and good listening abilities. These finding tells us that Latinas can potentially be great team leaders, as these qualities should be of utmost importance to successful corporate entities.
“Cultural fluency.” The fact that Latinas come from array of different cultures from the United States and Latin America, generations and different language, and particular traditions is in itself an advantage. This makes them more ‘global’, and therefore, very tolerant and respectful of other cultures. Also, a compelling asset is the fact that many Hispanic business women are bilingual. Ingrained also in a Latina’s upbringing is a strong sense of family and of family values. This translates to a great appreciation of communal approach, what this means to companies and the corporate world is that Latinas will hone their multicultural and collaborative leadership skills to positively impact the bottom-line.
-- Marlene González