Esther Aguilera, LCDA

“We are being left behind” in the C-suite and boardroom says LCDA CEO Esther Aguilera

Esther Aguilera is the CEO of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA).  With 30 years of experience working in Washington, DC. Esther is passionate about elevating Latinxs to positions of power and preparing them for a seat at the table. 

Esther Aguilera, LCDA CEO (Photo courtesy LCDA)

LCDA serves as an advocate and resource to corporate boards, search firms, private equity, and institutional investors interested in gaining access to exceptional Latinx board talent.

In the second installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Esther about LCDA’s work in advancing Latinx visibility in C-level positions and company boards. 

“We are being left behind” in the C-suite and boardroom 

The Latino Corporate Directors Association became fully operational in 2016 and was founded by a pioneering group of Latino corporate directors, serving on publicly traded or large private company boards who had grown tired of the low number of Latinos in the boardroom. Search firms and companies were saying, “We can’t find qualified Latinos for the boardroom.” LCDA was established as a way to address this issue and increase the number of U.S. Latinos on corporate boards. 

Historically, Latinos are the least represented compared to any other group. Only 3% of the Fortune 1000 company board seats are held by Latinos, despite the large size of the U.S. Latino population.

“We are being left behind,” said Esther. “In fact, over the last 10 years, between 2010 and 2020, Latinos only gained 1%. We went from 2% of corporate board seats to 3%. Latinos and Latinas are invisible in the C-suite and the boardroom. For Latinas, it’s even smaller. Only about 1% of the public company board seats are held by Latinas. Yet, we are such a large and contributing sector, we have a long tradition of entrepreneurship and growing corporate business businesses nationwide.”

Visibility is the main challenge facing Latinas and Latinos aspiring for C-level positions and this is what LCDA is working to address through its programs and membership. One of the ways they are doing this is by growing the pool of Latino board-qualified candidates. 

“What we have done is focused on growing the supply. Our membership has tripled in the last couple of years and we are showcasing and bringing together qualified Latinos for the boardroom,” said Esther.  

By doing this, it takes away the excuse so many have used in the past, that they simply cannot find qualified Latinos for board positions. The Latino Corporate Directors Association brings together ample talent from corporate directors, current and former corporate CEOs, to C-suite and top executives in corporate America in a one-of-a-kind network that has never existed for the Latino community before. 

“We have set it upon ourselves, so now that we have the talent pool, and the supply, we work directly with companies,” said Esther. “We’re writing to companies to say, there is ample talent, and we can help you find it. We work with companies, search firms, private equity, to tap that talent.” 

The LCDA’s efforts have made historic numbers this past year. In just the first six months of 2021, LCDA has, directly and indirectly, influenced 175 corporate board appointments, which is four times greater than last year’s 43 appointments. 

You might be interested: New America Alliance CEO Solange Brooks says, “Diversity is one of the elements of success”

Latinx workplace advancement opportunities 

Another challenge facing Latinx individuals in corporate America is access to advancement opportunities. 

Esther Aguilera, LCDA CEO, speaking at the 4th Annual LCDA Board Leaders Convening 2019 (Photo courtesy LCDA)

“I have a couple of stories working with some of our Latina executives and they shared with me some of the barriers that they have faced. One of them was approached by her HR person, and they said, ‘Here’s a job for you to consider, it pays a little more, etc.’ And she went to a mentor and said, ‘HR is steering me in this direction. What should I be aware of?’ And her mentor said, ‘I’m so glad you came to me, that job is a dead-end job. It will take you maybe another step. But then there’s no opportunity for advancement there.’”

This story is one many Latinos and Latinas have faced before. They are presented with a seemingly great opportunity only to later discover the new position offers no room for further advancement. In the case of this particular woman’s story, the power of a good mentor helped steer her in the right direction to make the best choice for her career. 

In the LCDA’s network, mentorship and coaching from experienced directors helps advance aspiring executives as they pay it forward and prepare the next group of executives for the boardroom. 

LCDA, BoardReady Institute

The BoardReady Institute prepares executives for the boardroom. (Graphic Source)

One of the Association’s key programs is the BoardReady Institute, a unique and comprehensive program that prepares interested executives for boardroom positions. The program is comprised of four components. The first is a toolkit that helps executives prepare their board bio and practice their pitch. The second component is corporate governance and the third is all about the network and coaching. Finally, the fourth component is promoting the executives for board opportunities.

“Last year, we helped with about 105, board search requests. Today, we’re already at 200, and will likely help with about 300 by the end of the year. We get requests for certain skillsets for a board position and we sort through our membership and give them as many qualified people and work with them to make sure that we can connect them to board talent.” 

The work achieved so far by the Latino Corporate Directors Association shows that Latino advancement is not only possible but necessary. By increasing Latinx visibility in the C-suite and boardroom, corporate America has no more excuses for excluding Latino and Latinas from the table.

Robinson Cano, Félix Hernández, Pablo Sandoval y Yasiel Puig. Latino diversity

Latino managers discrimination is not a “corporate exclusive” practice

The “glass ceiling” or better yet “the brown ceiling” as it has been called when it refers to Latino managers discrimination in the workplace is not exclusive of Corporate America. Barriers to Latinos reaching high paying jobs also runs deep in sports as it is eloquently explained in this article written by Allen Barra and published on Truthdig under the title Latinos Still Face ‘Brown Ceiling’ for Big League Baseball Managers. 

Robinson Cano, Félix Hernández, Pablo Sandoval y Yasiel Puig. Latino diversity

Robinson Cano, Félix Hernández, Pablo Sandoval y Yasiel Puig. MBL and Getty Images from About.com/Hispanos

“Hi, America,” beamed George Lopez on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” in an August 2015 segment. “In case you haven’t heard, we’re taking all your jobs. At least the ones in your national pastime. Like the grass in California, your national pastime is getting browner and browner each year.”

Lopez was straighter than a José Altuve line drive. Since the rise of Roberto Clemente in the early 1960s, Latino players have come increasingly to dominate the game of Major League Baseball (MLB). Fifty years ago, there were three Latinos on the American League (AL) and five on the National League (NL) All-Star rosters (out of 55 players in total). According to Latinobaseball.com, 22 players on this year’s AL and NL All-Star rosterswere Latino, a full 35 percent.

That reflects the overall percentage in baseball today. According to Dr. Richard Lapchick (in his yearly Racial and Gender Report Card for the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport), just under 32 percent of MLB players on 2017 Opening Day rosters were Hispanic. That’s up from 28.5 percent the previous season, and that’s up from 14 percent in 1991, when Dr. Lapchick began publishing the Report Card.

One Latino country dominates the game. This season started out with 83 players from the Dominican Republic alone. Key and Peele had some fun with this in their “Slap-Ass” routine, when a player who is acting out tries to spin a sad story, “I’m from the Dominican Republic.” The entire locker room looks at him and responds, “We’re all from the Dominican Republic!”

“Any more of us come in,” quipped Lopez, “and Donald Trump is going to demand higher home run walls in the outfield.”

You might be interested: No country for Latinos and the American Dream

Latino domination of baseball is complete in just about every way but one. As Lopez explains: “There’s a brown ceiling we can’t crack. For all the jobs we’re supposedly taking, there’s one we can’t get. … They’ll let us hit, they’ll let us pitch. Hell, they’ll even let us perform as ball boys. … They’ll let us do almost any job—almost—but when it’s time to get promoted to be head honcho—‘el jefe’—apparently we don’t have what it takes.”

That was two years ago. Last year, the Atlanta Braves fired Cuban-born Fredi González, a 10-year veteran of the managerial ranks who was in his sixth season managing the Braves, after a 9-28 start. Much was made of the rudeness displayed by the Braves in his firing. During a road trip, he was informed of his dismissal—not in person or even by a phone call from the front office—but by an email from an airline confirming his return flight to Atlanta, which meant he wasn’t going on the team plane. That left the big leagues with exactly zero Latino managers.

The question is not why or how Gonzalez was fired, but why there aren’t more Latino managers in the big leagues. This season, there is only one. In October, 2016, the Chicago White Sox announced that Rick Renteria, born and raised in California and of Mexican-American descent, would be their new skipper.

You might be interested: 5 Ways to leverage Latino talent in your organization to its full potential

The dearth of Latino managers in baseball is an ongoing disgrace. After Gonzalez was fired, journalist George Diaz talked to Dr. Lapchick for an Associated Press story entitled “Manfred.” “For me, our sports team and the people who run sports teams should look like America. … The commissioner has to take a more rigorous role.” (In his 2017 Report Card, Lapchick gave MLB an F for diversity in managers.)

The response from the commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, was tepid. In an address to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in July 2016, he said, “The absence of a Latino manager is glaring. … There are 30 jobs, and there are 30 high-turnover jobs when you’re talking about field managers, and you’re going to have an ebb and flow in terms of diversity, given that there is no central authority sitting above the 30 clubs saying, ‘Look, we want to have this makeup among these employees.’ ”

No central authority? The commissioner of baseball is regularly referred to as baseball’s “czar.” Would the czar of Russia have responded to an accusation about the lack of diversity in his government by saying “Gee, you think somebody could do something about this”?

The commissioner, though, is not the “czar” of baseball, no matter how many sportswriters and commentators sling that title around. He serves, like all previous commissioners, under a personal services contract to team owners. Which means that the obvious bias against hiring Latinos for managerial positions comes from the team owners, and the commissioner probably isn’t going to take much action on the subject.

Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers; Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox; David Américo Ortiz Arias, Boston Red Sox Latino managers

Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers; Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox; David Américo Ortiz Arias, Boston Red Sox. MBL and Getty Images.

In 2013, MLB did adopt “The Selig Rule,” which mandates each club to “consider” minorities for executive positions and managerial and director openings. But George Diaz was right when he called it “window dressing.”

All of which means that the impetus has got to come from the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Managers aren’t represented by the union, but the MLBPA has a definite stake in the hiring of managers because so many players will be looking for management and coaching jobs when their playing days are over.

“I firmly believe that having as diverse a system as possible from top to bottom is beneficial to the industry, so not just on the field, off it as well,” MLBPA executive director and 15-year veteran of the big leagues, Tony Clark, said. “And to be in a position where we don’t have those that reflect our membership in positions of leadership is disappointing.”

Detroit Tigers outfielder Miguel Cabrera, a Venezuelan-born future Hall of Famer (459 home runs and a .318 batting average in 15 seasons) said last summer, before Renteria was hired by the White Sox, “How can it be possible? It appears strange to me that there are so many Latino players and not a single manager. Maybe something needs to be done in order to give them more opportunities.”

Juan Marichal, a 243-game winner in the bigs and the first Dominican-born player elected to the Hall of Fame, says that language was often cited as a barrier for Latino players becoming big league managers, but “They never asked any of us if we could improve our English, and I don’t recall them asking any of us to improve our English [in order to get a manager’s job]. And I don’t recall anyone ever asking managers to learn Spanish in order to better communicate with us.”

No, the job of communicating with Spanish-speaking players fell to coaches who were bilingual. And if there’s a bright spot on the horizon, it’s that fully one-third of MLB coaches are Latino (33.5 percent per the 2017 Racial and Gender Diversity Report Card). And the talent pool for managers comes from the ranks of the assistant coaches.

So, to use George Lopez’s phrase, we’ll see if the rank of baseball’s jefes gets a little browner.

 

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This article was first published on Truthdig on August 10, 2017 under the title: Latinos Still Face ‘Brown Ceiling’ for Big League Baseball Managers

Allen Barra writes about sports for The Wall Street Journal and regularly contributes to TheAtlantic.com and Salon.com. Barra has authored many books including “Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, The Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age” (2014), “Rickwood Field: A Century in America’s Oldest Ballpark” (2014), and “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee” (2009) .

female leadership feature

Renown guest speakers at female leadership Power Lunch

Guest speakers will participate at “The 3 Pillars of Effective Female Leadership” 2017 Business Retreat including Guest Panelists  at Power Lunch  Michele Meyer-Shipp, Esq., VP and Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer at Prudential Financial and Patricia Campos-Medina, Co-Director & Extension Associate, The Worker Institute, Cornell University. Also, Fireside Chat with Adelcida “Adel” Wilson, Speaker, Coach and Author. 

For additional information and to register, please visit: http://retreat.latinasinbusiness.us// or call 848 238 6090

female leadership

Michele C. Meyer-Shipp Bio

Chief Diversity Officer, Corporate Human Resources

Prudential Financial, Inc

Michele-Meyer Shipp, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Prudential Financial Guest Panelist Female Leadership

Michele C Meyer-Shipp, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Prudential Financial

Michele C. Meyer-Shipp is vice president and Chief Diversity Officer at Prudential. She is responsible for leading and supporting all diversity and inclusion efforts for the company, and for ensuring ongoing compliance with federal and state equal employment opportunity/affirmative action laws.

Meyer-Shipp joined Prudential in April 2010 as vice president and counsel in the Employment and Labor Law Group. In this role, she provided legal advice, counsel, training and investigative support to several lines of business on a variety of employment and human resources related matters.

Prior to joining Prudential, Meyer-Shipp served as General Counsel of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and spent four years at Merrill Lynch, where she served as employment counsel and lead of its diversity and inclusion efforts in the Global Wealth Management business.

Meyer-Shipp served as Director of New Jersey’s Division of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Prior to joining the ranks of public service, Meyer-Shipp was in private practice with the law firms of Collier, Jacob & Mills, P.C. and Lowenstein, Sandler, P.C., both in Roseland, N.J. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, her alma mater.  She served as Law Clerk to the Honorable James H. Coleman, Jr. of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Meyer-Shipp is on the Boards of GLSEN, Inc. (The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), the National Organization on Disability, Women Presidents’ Organization and the American Conference on Diversity.  She is an active member of several professional associations and is a Co-Chair of the Asia Society Global Talent and Diversity Council.

Meyer-Shipp has been named a “Diverse Attorney of the Year” by the New Jersey Law Journal, and has received numerous honors including the Oliver Randolph Award from the Garden State Bar Association, the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association’s Women’s Initiative and Leaders in Law (WILL) Platinum Award for the Corporate Sector, and was recently inducted into the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame. She has made the Black Enterprise list of Top Executives in Corporate Diversity for three consecutive years, and has also been named one of the “Most Powerful & Influential Women of the Tri-State Area” by The Tri-State Diversity Council.

In 2017, Meyer-Shipp was honored with the Winds of Change Award in the individual category by The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, and has been recognized by Seton Hall Law School for her work in advancing diversity in the New Jersey legal community.  In her free time, Michele enjoys spending time with her husband and their three sons.

 

Patricia Campos-Medina Bio

Patricia Campos-Medina modern Latina female leadership

Patricia Campos-Medina,  Co-Director and Extension Associate, Workers Institute at Cornell University and President, Latinas United for Political Empowerment PAC of NJ

Patricia Campos-Medina is a nationally recognized labor and political leader with more than 20 years experience on grassroots and labor organizing, coalition building, electoral campaigns at the local and national level.

She is a leadership development professional with the Workers Institute at Cornell University, leading leadership development and education programming for Local and National leaders in the labor and non-profit sector.  She is the President of Latinas United for Political Empowerment PAC of NJ, and a co-founder Board member of PODER PAC (Washington DC), two organizations focused on developing Latinas leaders to run for political office and increase representation of Latinas in politics.

She is considered a policy expert on workers rights, Latino voting rights, trade and US immigration policy.   Because of her expertise on trade policy and worker rights, Patricia served on the Transition Team of President Barack Obama in 2008, and served as a staff member of the United States Office on Trade under Pres. Bill Clinton and Pres. George Bush.  As a political consultant with her own firm Campos Strategies, Patricia has worked on the electoral campaigns of Governor Jon Corzine, Mayor and Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Mayor Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy and many other state-wide races in NJ.  She has served on national roles as both Legislative and Political Director for several major international labor unions such as SEIU, UNITEHERE and UNITE.

Patricia holds a BS and MS from Cornell University and is currently pursuing at PhD from the Division of Global Affairs, Rutgers University-Newark. She is the proud wife of Robert Medina and the mother of twin boys Diego and Enrique.

 

Adelcida “Adel” Wilson Bio

Adel Wilson female leadership

Adel Wilson is a Best-selling author, Territory Sales Business Manager, Speaker and Coach

Adel Wilson, is a Territory Business Sales Manager in NYC for a leading international Pharmaceutical company.  She is the bestselling author of  Pharma Success Secrets: 12 Winning Strategies to Get your Foot in the Door and Launch a Successful Career in Pharmaceutical Sales.

She earned her Master’s degree in Psychology from Columbia University and her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences from New York University, graduating from both with honors.  Adel is fluent in Spanish and conversational Italian.  She has an eclectic professional background, having started as an Actress and Host and then moving into corporate training and healthcare.  As an actress she has appeared in countless productions, including commercials, voiceovers, print ads, film and television.  She had a recurring role on ABC-TV’s daytime drama, “One Life to Live” and has also appeared on “All My Children”.

Prior to working in Pharma, she had a career at one of the top academic medical centers in New York City, as a Physician Relations Manager, where she was responsible for the overall business growth, promotional marketing of hospital services, special events, medical conferences, fundraising, as well as Physician recruitment. She is a former board member and Gala Chair of the Dominican Women’s Development Center and is a Telly Award-recipient for “Best Marketing” in a Corporate Video.

As a Corporate Trainer, Speaker and Coach, Adel specializes in soft skill training. Some of her seminars include:  Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Leadership, Image, Spanish for Business, Diversity and Teambuilding, to name but a few.  Having taught over 50 topics to over 14,000 students from all walks of life, from CEOs and Physicians to Educators and Finance Professionals, Adel has a strong grasp on what it takes to succeed in business.  Adel’s leadership skills combined with her background in training, entertainment, healthcare, and marketing have opened up opportunities and allowed her to move her career forward, and in her most recent book, she reveals her personal success strategies.  Adel resides in New Jersey.

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gender diversity in corporate America

Gender diversity in the C-suite, where Latinas stand

If the overall consensus in the business world is that gender diversity is now an ethical and business imperative–at least in declaration–, why is gender discrimination still rampant in the corporate world?

A few days ago, I was horrified reading an article on The New York Times in which the author talks about the gender discrimination nightmares she suffered working in a male dominant environment such as Wall Street. It prompted these thoughts about the need to keep on pushing and pushing harder to encourage women in general and Latinas at work in particular  to reclaim gender diversity in the workplace.

gender diversity in corporate America where Latinas stand

If the overall consensus in the business world is that gender diversity is now an ethical and business imperative–at least in declaration–, why is gender discrimination still rampant in the corporate world?

A few days ago, I was horrified reading an article on The New York Times in which the author talks about the gender discrimination nightmares she suffered working in a male dominant environment such as Wall Street. It prompted these thoughts about the need to keep on pushing and pushing harder to encourage women in general and Latinas at work in particular  to reclaim gender diversity in the workplace.

Time after time I attend diversity conferences, summits and business events, large corporations declare they recognize the need for including gender diversity in their upper ranks. Unfortunately, the gender diversity pathway is still excruciatingly slow, especially for Latinas.

Despite some advances, women are under-represented at every level of the corporate world, especially when it comes to leadership positions. The number of women in senior level positions has increased compared to ten years ago, but still have not met anyone’s expectations.

According to the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility (HACR) 2015 Corporate Inclusion Index (HACR CII), “Hispanics held just over 7 percent of board seats amongst the participating companies, which is higher than the average within the Fortune 500, but is still considered low.” The latest? United Airlines named Oscar Muñoz as its new CEO last year, after the company’s CEO and chairman Jeff Smisek stepped down amid an investigation into wrongdoing at the airline.

Latinas? Although many are climbing the ranks, none are sitting as CEO’s and only 37 out of 5,511 board seats in Fortune 500 companies gather around corporate board tables.

Gender diversity in the developed world

The World Economic Forum makes the case for gender diversity in the workplace: “Ensuring the healthy development and appropriate use of half of the world’s available talent pool thus has a vast bearing on how competitive a country may become or how efficient a company may be. There is clearly also a values-based case for gender equality: women are one half of the world’s population and deserve equal access to health, education, economic participation and earning potential and political decision-making power. Ultimately, gender equality is fundamental to whether and how societies thrive.”

In Europe the gap in gender diversity in the corporate world is gradually disappearing. Countries like France, Norway, Israel, Germany, Belgium, Spain, etc, all have at least 30 percent females on their corporate board. For the year 2016, the European Union has asked for a 40 percent quota for women in business organizations in European countries. By contrast, in the USA there are no such mandatories and having women in corporate ranks is completely voluntary. In the top 500 fortune companies in the USA, there are less than 17 percent women on corporate boards and more than 50 percent of these companies do not even have any women on their boards.

What does gender diversity inclusion entitle?

Only recently has senior leadership devoted time to addressing this problem. Gender diversity is a top ten strategy of only one fourth of corporations in the USA, and in more than a third of companies there is no strategic agenda on this matter. There is universal agreement that for gender diversity to succeed in the corporate world, a company needs firm commitment from the top, otherwise all other initiatives along the pathway will fail.

The process of increasing diversity requires broad interventions in the entire company and everyone has to be aligned with the same objective –often a difficult task because not everyone in the company may agree to such changes. To counter such sentiments, one has to design certain conditions so that change can take place.

Working Latinas and gender diversity in the workplace

Young mothers’ needs are not considered in the corporate environment despite that gender diversity has been proven to be effective for corporate success.

Maternity leave, dedication to family and work, and other parenting responsibilities have often been cited as obstacles to career achievement among women by gender diversity-resistant officers. Women’s performances are attached to different standards when it comes to annual reviews for promotional opportunities.

Imaginary case scenarios –“she won’t be able to travel or she won’t be able to work long hours” –may be cited as justifications for not offering women real advancement opportunities. Women’s needs in the workplace have not been addressed by corporations in all its real and full complexity. In fact, most work procedures and best practices never take in consideration a gender approach.

Even when a commitment to change the culture of a company has been made, it takes time to implement those changes. Of course, all companies want competent women leaders and this can often be a challenge in some professions lacking competent senior females. But really, are there no competent women in certain fields? And if so, what about the competent ones that abound in other fields?

Competence is not a birth right, but a set of skills acquired overtime usually through mentoring and sponsoring opportunities. Visibility is also part of competency but it is used as a privilege of those who only see advantages in choosing peers to work with. Women might make men feel uncomfortable because they have a different perspective on issues or a different approach to solving problems. So there is a great deal of adjustment for both genders to be made in the culture of a company that can only be accomplished by increasing gender inclusion in the discussion process.

Do women on corporate boards help organizations?

The question that is often asked, “Why is there a need for gender diversity in the corporate world?” must then be answered by another question, “Does having women on a corporate board help the organization?”

The answer is a resounding yes. More evidence seems to indicate that when women are on a corporate board it benefits the company in more ways than one. One study showed that for every female on the corporate board, the company paid less for acquisitions it made. This suggests that women on corporate boards are more prudent, have less interest in risky mergers and tend to remain focused on higher returns.

A recent study by Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, “Mining the Metrics of Board Diversity show “… how the progression of women on boards has increased gradually over the past five years but that, on average, companies with mixed-gender boards have marginally better, or similar, performance to a benchmark index, such as the MSCI World, particularly over the past 18 months. Whereas, on average, companies with no women on their boards underperformed relative to gender-diverse boards and had slightly higher tracking errors, indicating potentially more volatility.”

Surveys of board directors have also revealed that women seem to make better business decisions that improve the company’s performance or indicate that women on corporate boards are more trusted by their peers than their male counterparts and show good skills often with a positive outcome for the company. Based on these data there is a call to rescind the mandate of a minimum number of women on the board because it makes good business sense.

A long way to go still ahead for Latinas in the workplace Young businesswoman walking up on corporate ladder

Sadly, while women are gaining a foothold in the corporate world in the USA, it is hard to find one Latina at a top senior level. Despite being a large population in the USA, Latinas have been completely under represented. Why Latinas do not make it to the upper echelons of the corporate world remains a mystery. Is it because they lack education or experience? Or is it because Latinas themselves are not interested in the world of business?

Anecdotal reports indicate that Latinas simply are ignored irrespective of their qualifications and experience. While the “all American female” is finally getting a break in life, Latinas still have a long way to go. Until then, the only thing to do is to keep on trying.

The road ahead might be less difficult because the door to gender diversity has already been opened. Awareness of this issue is no longer a problem and gradually corporations are making themselves committed to gender equality across the board.

Now,  aren’t Hispanic women qualified for these jobs? Those in senior executive positions, are they being considered for their experience? What would it take to be part of the short list of candidates?

What unique assets can Latinas offer because of our heritage and culture? How can Latinas make themselves visible by proving their potential as sound corporate leaders? What strengths do they bring to the table of large corporations that are instrumental in successful leadership?

We need to find these answers and we need to find them now.

 

 

 

Yvonne Garcia ALPFA Most Powerful Latinas

ALPFA Yvonne Garcia, the impact of Latino leadership on global markets

 

Yvonne Garcia, National Chairwoman of ALPFA

Yvonne Garcia, National Chairwoman of ALPFA

I first contacted Yvonne Garcia to write her profile in 2007 as the Experto de Hispanos for About.com, . She impressed me with her assertiveness and dedication to her career, which has grown and blossomed into national exposure. Yvonne is the National Chairwoman for the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), a 48,000-member organization that thrives to empower and develop Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation in every sector of the global economy.

This year, over 3000 ALPFA members gathered in the Big Apple to advance the role of Latinos not only in the national stage but also in the world markets. “We had a record-breaking convention this year in New York,” she shared with LIBizus. “Not only has it been the largest convention ever but the one with the most memorable highlights,” she affirmed.

Among the memorable programs was the Women of ALPFA Day, which featured an invitation-only breakfast with guest speakers discussing the global gender gap; panel discussions and workshops focused on soft skill development for Latina leaders; and the Women of ALPFA Luncheon where the accomplishments of Latinas were highlighted and celebrated.

“Our honoree this year for the Latina Excellence Award was Nina Vacca, Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Technical Resources, and Chair Emeritus of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” Yvonne said. “She talked about her journey to over 2000 attendees during the Women of ALPFA Luncheon,” she said.

According to the ALPFA National Chairwoman, Latinas in corporate are making headways and preparing for landing leadership roles. Knowing the personal sacrifices Yvonne made to build her professional career, a topic of our first conversation back in 2007, I was curious to know if the path has become somewhat easier for the upcoming Hispanic women eager to climb the corporate ladder.

“If anything, I believe it is harder now,” she said. “Although we are more aware of the importance of supporting Latinas to ensure more diversity in the workplace, they are now demanded to make even more sacrifices, working longer hours not only in their day jobs but also contributing to professional organizations,” she said.

ALPFA is committed to lead the support for Latinas through a more concerted effort in finding the right mentors to help those in the pipelines. “This is the commitment we ask from top corporate management; there must be a mandate from CEOs to mentor and train our women in order to build not only technical skills but also to develop leadership strength and charisma,” she added.

At her day job, Garcia, presently the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Client Solutions and PMO of the Investment Manager Services group for State Street Corporation, has global responsibility for developing new client relationships, deploying cutting-edge technology and operational processes, and delivering complex consulting engagements for existing and potential State Street clients.

Nina Vacca, Yvonne Garcia, Josefina Bonilla at the Women of ALPFA Luncheon.

Josefina Bonilla, Nina Vacca, Yvonne Garcia at the Women of ALPFA Luncheon.

She was born in Queens, New York, from the marriage of a Lebanese mother and a Dominican father, who came from the Dominican Republic in 1961. Yvonne had diverse experiences growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood but spending the summer months at her father’s country of origin. She learned Spanish as her first language.

Since she was a child, she was interested in the concept of money. At age six she organized a book sale in front of her house. She played with stamps making believe the papers she stamped were bank transactions. Always a saver, even when her brothers asked her to borrow money she would charge them interest.

Yvonne graduated with an MBA from Boston University in finance and marketing and a BA from the Sorbonne in Paris, France, where she lived while studying its economy and culture.

Beginning at the very bottom in sales in 1995, answering calls from customers in Spanish for a small community bank, she was promoted to the department of international staff given her fluency in English and French.

Yvonne Garcia ALPFA Chairwoman Closing Remarks

Yvonne Garcia ALPFA Chairwoman Closing Remarks

She then moved on to Merrill Lynch as a Financial Adviser and decided to continue her studies obtaining a master’s degree in business administration from Boston University, focusing her career in Finance and Marketing. By that time, she had also started a family and had a small baby. Yvonne found a new passion in marketing that, despite being also demanding, allowed her to manage her time in a more flexible manner.

Yvonne was appointed as Vice President of strategic assistance of the Construction Bank of China in America. In this role, Yvonne and her team were responsible for the creation and implementation of sales processes and service within the bank’s capitalization centers, which included implementation of roles, responsibilities, and tools for the sales force and the management team.

In the midst of her travels to China, Yvonne also spent more than seven weeks in North Carolina, where she acquired her certifications as Six Sigma Green and Black Belts.

She recalls China as the largest professional sacrifice because she had to leave her son to travel to China for three weeks in a row, but was also her greatest professional achievement.

She was then offered a position at Liberty Mutual as the VP and Director of Marketing to consumer market segments. In this role, Yvonne was responsible for the creation and implementation of integrated marketing strategies that resulted in the penetration of selected consumption targets throughout the country.

Student of the Year Award ALPFA Convention 2015

Student of the Year Award ALPFA Convention 2015

“I found this role through my network of ALPFA, which opened the doors for this opportunity,” she recalls. ALPFA’s is committed to grow aggressively to 100,000 members within the next two years. Anybody who is seriously devoted to their professional career must consider joining this national organization,” she added.

And she concluded, “Moreover, as the ALPFA Chairwoman in this year’s convention, all the sacrifices I made were well-rewarded when I saw the happy faces of over 40 students who received scholarships in recognition and celebration of their academic achievement and demonstrated leadership skills. We witnessed the talent of Latino students from across the country; they work hard through the year to deserve such important recognition.”