The second annual list of the US 50 Most Powerful Latinas in corporate and business has just been released and published by Fortune Magazine. ALPFA National Chairwoman Yvonne Garcia responded to an exclusive interview with LatinasinBusiness.us.
The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) released last year and for the first time a list of 50 Most Powerful Latinas in corporate America. The intention is to give visibility to a number of Hispanic women who are building leadership role models for millions of young aspiring Latinas leaders in the corporate and business world.
The list is back this year and it includes Latinas in Fortune 500 companies, large private firms, and a few impressive entrepreneurs leading global companies. We spoke with Yvonne Garcia, ALFPA National Chairwoman, and she explained the list criteria and intention as well as progress attained and what still needs to happen.
LIB: The second year of 50 Most Powerful Latinas was just announced and not only you are in it -congratulations! – but so are other Latinas who made the list last year. What are the highlights of this year’s 50 Most Powerful Latinas list?
YG: This year, the nominees for our Most Powerful Latinas list nearly doubled, with 15 business leaders joining the list for the first time, including Jessica Alba, acclaimed actress and entrepreneur, at number 10. The selected 50 Latina executives are running Fortune 500 companies, large private firms, and a few are entrepreneurs leading global companies. This list gives a new spotlight to Latina women executives and amplifies their exposure across the country. In fact, three of the women on the list joined a corporate board last year.
LIB: What is the criteria for choosing these women and how is information gathered? In this case, what does “powerful” mean?
YG: The four-criteria used were: the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career—résumé and runway ahead—and their social and cultural influence.
This year’s list of powerful Latina women prioritizes women leading large public companies with significant global operating roles, rather than C-level staff roles. Then, it ranks Latina women operating large private firms and finally, entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled their businesses into the middle market.
The accomplishments of these powerful Latinas are significant. The list serves as a platform to continue their legacy and amplify their voices to inspire the next generation of women.
LIB: Despite the relevant accomplishment of Latinas in the list, numbers at the top continue to be small. Do you think the needle is moving in corporate America and space and opportunity are given to Latinas?
YG: Not as fast as it should be. Women, in general, and Latinas, in particular, continue to be underrepresented in executive-level roles. The Most Powerful Latinas (MPL) are helping to unite Latinas for collective power, for sharing, and for mutual support.
The list will continue to be published, and will strengthen the individual and collective power of Latinas, increasing their visibility significantly. Not all 50 MPLs will be the same every year, but everyone who’s been named will be part of an elite and remarkably influential group of business leaders.
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LIB: What would you say the main obstacles are for a faster promotion of Latinas to higher ranks?
YG: Main obstacles are systemic barriers in organizational structures, often subtle and unspoken, lack of Latina role models, mentorship and sponsorship both from men and women.
LIB: How do you see the future of this list? What are some of the concrete actions MPL are taking to help others rise to those positions of power?
YG: There will be a purposeful commitment to cultivating the next generation of Latinas, and the generation after that. This is just the beginning. We will also host regional events for MPLs across the country, throughout the year, for the MPLs to continue to know, trust, and invest in each other and in the marketplace.
Many who aspire to serve on boards will serve on boards. Others whose goals are to become CEO will become CEO, raising the bar for Latinas (and Latinos) in high school today who will aspire to do and to be like these Powerful Latinas. Together we will help to change the perception of Latinos and Latinas in the U.S. as business and community leaders.
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