ahora te toca a ti Latinas in business Latina entrepreneurs

Women’s History Month Progress of Latina leadership in business and corporate

Since launching our initiative, we have interviewed and were honored with the presence of highly respected Latina leadership. Here’s a list of the Latina entrepreneurs and Hispanic leaders in the business and corporate worlds who visited our pages and shared their experience and wisdom about the progress of Latinas with our readers (by date of publication).


Suzanna SanchezSuzanna Sanchez, National President of the National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA).

“As women, we have a hard time juggling all our roles, as mothers, spouses, professionals and business owners. Organizations such as ours stand behind Latino women in business to help them thrive as leaders. We support policies that would simplify their lives while advancing their economic power.”


Angelica-Perez-Litwin_LatinasThinkBigDr. Perez-Litwin,  PhD, a tech social entrepreneur and psychologist  founder of LATINAS THINK BIG

“With 1.4 million computer specialist job openings expected in the U.S. by 2020, and Latinas as the fastest growing female population in this country, it is imperative that we support and advance Latinas in technology and across STEM fields.”



Angela Franco GWHCCAngela Franco, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

“ Some well-educated first generation Hispanic business owners, especially from Mexico, have opened their businesses in Washington looking for opportunities to work and engage in federal and state contracts. However, they might lack the experience some contracts require, or seniority in working with the agencies. Our goal is not only helping new businesses grow but also sustain the existing ones and help them succeed.”


Strayer Portraits -Dr Zoppi RodriguezDr. Irene Zoppi Rodríguez, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and the first Deputy Commander in the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico.

“Every human being has a purpose in life. Many discover it at the end of their lives, when it is too late, becoming a wasted opportunity. We cannot put time in a box so it is up to us to realize our purpose in life as soon as we can. By discovering that purpose, we can fulfill our destiny within that purpose,” Dr. Zoppi said.



Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar, Chair of the Board of the New America Alliance (NAA) Institute

“In 1999, a Latina Supreme Court Justice seemed but a dream. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has since inspired legions of American Latinas who can now see themselves in law careers. Latinas in business can have a role model in Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and a NAA member. Her inspiring story has already impacted Latinas in banking and now she’ll show the way from a larger platform.”


YazminDavidds_high_resDr. Yasmin Davidds, founder and CEO of the Latina Leadership Academy

“I have trained women in both, the organizational or corporate and the entrepreneurial environments. There are differences in every aspect of the negotiation process. In a corporation, the organizational culture designates how a woman can use her power, what is acceptable and what is not, and how much –or little- the organization is open to be questioned, so I always recommend being very cautious. Less evolved organizations have less appreciation for women and for that, they present a higher risk.”


Mariela Dabbah, Red Shoe Movement

Mariela Dabbah and the Red Shoe Movement

“Most women looking for empowerment usually end up trying to find a formula that worked for someone else without realizing that their characteristics and personality are likely very different from the person they are trying to emulate. The success of the Red Shoe Movement is based on providing tools for women to find their own definition of success and to follow their own style.


Maria_Contreras_Sweet_portraitMaria Contreras-Sweet, Head of the Small Business Administration (SBA)

“We’ve made real progress, but at the same time, Latinos have developed a special culture of entrepreneurship by starting our own enterprises. It’s remarkable to see the growth and strength of Latino-owned businesses. Latino purchasing power is expected to top $1.5 trillion by next year. This means if the American Latino market were its own country, we’d be the 11th largest economy in the world.”



vice president of research, evaluation and learning at The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Debra Joy Perez, The Annie E. Casey Foundation Vice President-Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit

“What matters to young people is to know that every one of the people they admire has had disappointments in their life. They have tried things and failed. WE have also failed. What distinguishes successful Latinas is that even after failure they try again.”



Pilar Avila, NAA

Pilar Avila CEO New America Alliance

“Less than one percent of Latinas hold high corporate and/or leadership positions. We need to build new connections, strengthen the relationships among members of the Caucus, and increase the presence of these leaders who bring particular skills to any decision table.”



Yvonne Garcia

Yvonne Garcia, National Chairwoman for the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA)

“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.”



Solange Brooks, CalSTRS

Solange Brooks, CalSTRS Portfolio Manager

“Progress over the years comes from one’s own preparation. Women in general and Latinas in particular have increased their preparation, improved their education and are achieving in many areas in the workplace. In business, Latinas cannot allow any roadblocks to stop them from fulfilling their goals. You have to go over, under or around them, but you need to be strong, do the work and get that experience you need to be successful.”



Dr Davidds negotiation skills a must for Latina economic empowerment (video)


Dr. Yamin Davidds, Founder and CEO Women’s Negotiation Institute

Here you are now at the negotiation table, in front of your potential future boss who is offering you the position of your dreams; or in front of your current boss, feeling you deserve a long-awaited promotion; or about to close a deal with a major client that will take your company to the next level.

A different million thoughts come to mind, you start to panic –butterflies in your stomach or quick breathing. It is negotiation time. What to do?

As many of you, I can share a funny story that came out OK but could have gone very wrong. I was working in New York at a multicultural advertising agency in a no-way-out leave-your life-here type of job making little money and with a horrible commute. A dear friend offered me a contact opportunity to work for the State of New Jersey.

The job didn’t really interest me –at the time, it seemed a side path in my career– but tired of 12-hour long days, I decided to look into it. I was called to an interview with a very pleasant man –who would end up being my boss– and other management.

I showed up with a number in mind. If I was to sell my soul, it was going to be for a good price. The interview went extremely well and I was offered the position on the spot. I was even able to negotiate my title –State jobs have sometimes weird titles– to look closer to my professional objective. However, when the numbers came up, I was offered $5K less a year than I had in mind. I heard myself say YES.

Driving back home, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was happy that I had aced the interview and the job seemed particularly suitable for my skills with great benefits. On the other, I was extremely furious with myself for not having negotiated my salary. It was not a great difference but why haven’t I spoken up? I tried to appease myself thinking it was not such a big difference, that it still was good money and way more than I was making now, the commute was easier, and the job was fine. But the principle of not speaking up for myself made me mad!

When I got home and told my son the good and the bad news, in his naivety –he was a teenager at the time– he suggested I called them back and ask for more money. I did the next day, and the answer was YES! (Do not try this at home). As I said, it was a once in a lifetime miracle, and I could easily have lost the job.USC NEGotiation FOR WOMEN ALUMNI EVENT_102914

“Women –and especially Latinas– are raised in this culture of being agreeable and making other people happy,” said Dr. Yasmin Davidds, Founder and CEO of the Women’s Institute of Negotiation. “We need to teach and train them in the art of negotiation, which is not a feminist position. Study after study coming out of Harvard and Stanford universities has proven that women and men brains really work differently, with very different approaches in ways of negotiating and communicating with and between each other,” she said.

An international best-selling author and negotiation expert, Dr. Davidds is one of the top leading female negotiation experts in the U.S. and Latin America. She has trained and consulted thousands of corporate leaders in over 200 blue chip companies throughout 22 countries in the art and skill of negotiation. A propos of her first-ever live-streamed virtual presentation “Negotiating for Women” sponsored by the USC Career Center, USC Alumni Association and the USC Society of Trojan Women, she spoke exclusively with LIBizus.

“The fact is, nobody likes aggressive women, especially men, because they feel it is a challenge to their manhood. Maybe they will negotiate with you once but hardly would they want you on their team,” she affirmed. “Many men and women believe aggressive women are difficult to work with.”

So the true concept of negotiation, according to Dr. Davidds, involves using the feminine power and grace. “Being compassionate, gracious, assertive and empathetic helps you understand where the other person is coming from. Egos might get in the middle; being aware and acknowledging the other person’s goals make them feel safe enough to open up,” she suggested.

This world-renowned leader has worked with global companies such as Proctor and Gamble, General Electric, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, American Express, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft and Apple among many others. She has conducted hundreds of presentations in some of the most prestigious universities including Stanford and Harvard, and is a regular speaker at USC.

Testimonials at USC event

Testimonials at USC event

“I have trained women in both, the organizational or corporate and the entrepreneurial environments. There are differences in every aspect of the negotiation process. In a corporation, the organizational culture designates how a woman can use her power, what is acceptable and what is not, and how much –or little- the organization is open to be questioned, so I always recommend being very cautious. Less evolved organizations have less appreciation for women and for that, they present a higher risk.”

In that kind of corporate environment, Dr. Davidds recommends:

  1. Have your exit strategy in place. In order to play the game, you need to be very strategic, including having an alternative in case your move is not successful; you always want to have options.
  2. Find allies within the organization, powerful people who know you, your work, and your professionalism; they will speak up for you when and if the time comes.
  3. Understand the rules of the game so you have choices: you play by them, you challenge them or you look for an organization that is more aligned with your career goals.
  4. Find –if there exists– a women’s group, formal or informal– within the organization so you feel you are not doing it alone.

When the environment changes to the entrepreneur or the small business owner, the rules are different, according to Dr. Davidds. “Entrepreneurs and small business owners are, in a way, free to take more risks. If their main clients are large corporations, then it is mandatory that they understand their clients’ negotiation style, and the politics around their organizational culture. However, they can live by different rules,” she said.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners must:

  1. Take bigger risks. You need to jump in first, be proactive and then figure out how to accomplish the task at hand.
  2. You must have a personality. Show your clients who you are and how your company is their best option to service their needs. You are freer to be yourself, so prove it!
  3. Try everything to see what works. You have more opportunities to experiment with different options and look for the best solution possible. Clients appreciate innovators!

While Latina entrepreneurs have more freedom in taking these risks, corporate Latinas must be more cautious in saying YES right away when asked to take over a task or challenge. They need to push back a little and figure out a way to respond to the situation that would be beneficial to all the parties, including herself!

“Latinas are so happy to get promoted that we don’t realize we need resources and funding to learn how to be strategic, and even find someone who represents our interest and be able to push back without hurting the negotiation. Seeking to establish themselves in executive or leadership roles, Latinas must negotiate their way through a number of obstacles and challenges that their male colleagues often bypass,” she said.

“Today’s Latina leaders must be equipped with more than just a traditional leadership skill set; they must be able to negotiate in complex, multi-party situations where relationships are of the utmost importance and substance cannot be sacrificed. I believe the Women’s Institute of Negotiation has begun to make a difference,” she concluded.

Watch the complete session “Negotiating for Women” on our YouTube Channel here!