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Catalyst Study Outlines Strategies for Companies to Capitalize on Latinas in the Workplace

Lack of a mentor is the number one challenge

As the Hispanic population in America continues to explode, more and more managers are exploring ways to tap this growing talent pool and capitalize on the unique experiences of Latinas in business. But as the talent pool grows and marketing dollars to Hispanics increase, Latinas at the top of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies remain stagnant at a minuscule 25 out of almost 14,000 corporate officer positions.

“Catalyst developed our new study, Latinas In The Workplace: What Managers Need to Know to explore the barriers these women face and give managers the tools they need to maximize this important segment of the workforce,” said Catalyst President Sheila Wellington.

Catalyst surveyed 342 Latinas, conducted 13 focus groups and a series of in-depth interviews with senior Latinas, to identify the circumstances these women face. The first in a series of reports focused on individual groups of women of color, Latinas In The Workplace: What Managers Need to Know, contains recommended action steps for companies and managers to improve the recruitment, retention and advancement of Latinas. The Coca-Cola Company sponsored this report.

Latinas report that finding a mentor is a number one challenge. Their outsider status and a lack of understanding of their cultural backgrounds among managers are also top obstacles to achieving career success. Catalyst found that this lack of understanding makes it more difficult for Latinas to build successful relationships and harder to find the career supports that can make the difference when climbing the corporate ladder.

“Latinas who experience outsider status have a harder time finding mentors or accessing the networks that lead to the top,” said Wellington. “Catalyst finds in studies of women in law and on Wall Street and in corporate America that mentors and effective networks are top elements for career success. When Latinas continue to lack the access to these key career supports, managers have an important role to play in bridging the gap and developing their careers.”

Lack of understanding of Latinas cultural backgrounds and the essential role family plays in the lives of Latinas in the workplace is another challenge for managers and the women who work for them. In fact, 21percent of Latinas surveyed compared to only 14 percent of overall women of color cite family commitments as a barrier to advancement. For many Latinas the definition of family extends beyond the commonly accepted definition of the nuclear family to include aunts, uncles, cousins, etc

“The commitment to family, and especially the commitment to extended family, is not broadly understood. This important insight has an impact on advancing Latinas,” continued Wellington. “Effective managers should create an open dialogue to better understand these cultural differences.”

The sponsor of this study is The Coca-Cola Company.