We are celebrating Small Business Week with this great announcement! The reason to join efforts? Latinas in the USA are the largest growing demographics entering the labor force, opening businesses and increasing their economic power but their rise to decision-making position still lags behind other minorities.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to our LatinasinBusiness.us column in Abasto Magazine. You and I will have an opportunity to get to know each other, connect on the important issues that affect Latinas today, discuss trends and innovative solutions for your business or career, and find common ground to help each other grow.
A little over two years ago, I launched LatinasinBusiness.us with the vision to build, support and empower a community of Latina professionals, those in the corporate track and small business owners. After over 25 years of working in corporate America, the State of New Jersey and finally starting my own business, I felt that my experience of struggle and success could be of use for many. As a Latina, I was ready to give back one more time.
The experience has been riveting, to say the least. At a professional level, it has allowed me bring a small contribution to the struggle of Latinas around the country. At a personal level, it has also allowed me to meet hundreds of young Latinas like you who truly are the future of this country.
Are Latinas in the USA making history?
I started my business at a time when being Latino was not “cool” as it is today! Even if we still have many steps to climb and milestones to achieve, we have made strides in every industry, field and activity. Nevertheless, we need to keep going!
Unfortunately, women in general and Latinas in the USA in particular are still falling behind in many aspects of their professional, career or business development. We need to work harder and smarter in these areas:
Leadership: One in five women in this country is a Latina. However, there are no Latina CEOs among the Fortune 1000 companies and less than 3 percent of board directors at Fortune 500 companies are Asian, black or Hispanic women. Women hold only 19 percent of Congressional seats. The first Latina elected to the Senate was sworn in 2017 and just a few more made the House this year as well.
Business: The fastest growing demographics opening businesses, Latinas in the USA represent 36 percent of women owned businesses with receivables of approximately 71 billion (2014). However, Latinas grab a very small portion of five percent Federal contracts awarded last year to women –for the first time in the history of the SBA- and have the least access to capital of all minority business owners.
Corporate America: In the workplace, the numbers do not look much better. One in seven women is Latina in the workforce and they are projected to be over 17 percent by 2022. However, the outcome is poor: One-fourth of Latinas in the USA live below the poverty line and more than half are living in near-poverty with a pay inequality gap of almost 56 percent.
Education: Latinas in the USA have surpassed their male counterparts in educational achievements. However, they still lag behind other minorities in attaining a high school degree, and only 19 percent complete a college degree. They get the crumbs when it comes to employment or promotions with only fewer opportunities to access decision-making, high-paying positions.
Health: Health disparities are rampant among Latinas, with the highest rates of death for breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Retirement: The financial and economic gap follows us into old age, becoming the least protected demographic among all minorities.
Not all hope is lost
This evidence is not the only reason that compelled me to launch LatinasinBusiness.us. On the contrary, a deeper knowledge of a vibrant and competent community of talented Latina women, working hard at achieving their potential, was the main reason to create this small window of opportunity: to encourage, promote and bring to the front these wonderful stories of Latino women building family, businesses and communities around them.
Not one person or one movement can achieve this huge task alone. We need to keep holding hands and helping those just starting or on their way up to achieve their best potential because when one raises, the others follow.
Abasto Magazine is giving me today the opportunity to meet with all of you on these pages, tell your stories, and bring discussions to the forefront –the hard difficult questions we need to ask and answer. For that, I need your help: to reach out to me and share your dreams and your achievements but also the difficulties and the battles you have encountered along the way so we can all learn from each other.
Remember: ¡La unión hace la fuerza! We do not need to wait for opportunities to come our way but we need to create them for ourselves. I did it for over 20 years, you can do it too!