Heritage and ‘Cultural Smarts’ Huge Assets for Latina Senior Executives: Stigma and...

Heritage and ‘Cultural Smarts’ Huge Assets for Latina Senior Executives: Stigma and Stereotypes Undermine Progress



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New York, NY–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 23, 2007–Lisa Quiroz, Time Warner’s SVP of Corporate Responsibility, tells how “cultural smarts” were critically important in the successful launch of People en Espanol. “The folks who wrote the original business plan didn’t realize that a Spanish-speaking Latina wouldn’t necessarily know how to read the language.” Plugging in more realistic assumptions, Quiroz re-wrote the business plan and laid the groundwork for a wildly successful magazine.

Sin Fronteras: Celebrating and Capitalizing on the Strengths of Latina Executives, published by the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force under the auspices of the Center for Work-Life Policy, is a new study that fills the hole in the research literature. Despite the rapidly growing heft of the Latina market (in both brain power and buying power) rather little is known about this increasingly important group.

This study showcases the strengths of Latina executives. Drawing upon a heritage that is rich in transferable skill sets – work ethic, collaborative leadership, cultural “smarts” – Latinas have extraordinary potential.

Potential is the key word here. The fact is, many of the rich assets Latinas bring to the workplace are either ignored or denied by employers. Negative stereotypes are alive and well – impeding progress, undermining trust and increasing “flight risk” among Latinas.

Highlights:

— Heritage is a huge asset. The data is impressive here, whether you’re talking work ethic, aptitude for collaborative leadership or “cultural smarts,” Latinas have enormous potential in the executive suite.

— A triple whammy. Latina executives perceive both gender and ethnicity as challenges in the workplace. The data also demonstrates that stereotypes and stigma are serious on-going barriers. All too often high-achieving Latinas are seen as “lazy, ignorant, illegal immigrants draining the social services.” Members of the “old boys club” have a hard time seeing this group as “leadership material.”

— Distrust, disillusionment and propensity to quit. Given the unfairness of a system that rewards “comfort level” above performance, many Latina executives tune out and turn off. A substantial minority are on the verge of quitting.

— Cutting-edge companies are beginning to leverage Latina talent by creating support networks; providing leadership training; honoring community outreach; underpinning personal and family resilience; and tackling stereotypes and stigma up front. All of these initiatives involve the top rungs of management and thus are potential “game-changers.

Heritage and ‘Cultural Smarts’ Huge Assets for Latina Senior Executives: Stigma and Stereotypes Undermine Progress