Make Room in the Boardroom: Latinas Need a Seat

Latinos account for 19% of the U.S. Hispanic population, the second largest ethnic group.  According to the Pew Research Center, the Latino population has grown 23% since 2010, but boardrooms lack representation of Latinas across the United States.  Research shows Latinas are one of the fastest-growing populations as of 2020, making up approximately 9%.  The boardroom has a long-standing significant challenge to fill the gap of excluding and bypassing Latinas to have a seat in the boardroom.

                For years Latinas have fought to have a seat in the boardroom, coming across many adversities, barriers, and challenges.  Yet, according to the Missing Pieces report, Latinas who are continuously fighting to close the gap of being underrepresented hold only 4.1% seats in the boardroom.  Research estimates Latinas will be 9.3% of the workforce in the U.S.  Is the lack of representation a clear message to Latinas they are not welcome in the boardroom, giving an impression Latinas lack management material? 

                Geisha Williams, Cuban, is a Latina of a Fortune 500 company.  Williams is advocating for boardrooms to make room for Latinas, vocalizing how it’s unacceptable to be dismissive of qualified Latinas due to their accent and not being able to articulate the way native English speakers do.  Of course, it’s unacceptable and inappropriate.  Williams, in an interview, said, “If they speak English with an accent, they are told they are too hard to understand or that they are not articulate enough.  They face stereotypes of being the sexy or fiery Latina.  And, despite high levels of education and experience, they are mistaken for domestic help and asked to get coffee or clear tables.”  But what are these Latina women supposed to do?

                Think about what Williams said, “mistaken for domestic help and asked to get coffee or clear tables.”  Latina women come into this country wanting a better way of life and equal pay.  However, Latina women who are educated but have an accent yet not accepted in the executive ranks.  It is not a question of boardroom seat availability but the lack of accepting qualified, educated Latinas to be seated in senior executive positions.  Lissette Garcia, Vice President at Penn State University, vocalizes these types of workforce culture is “workplace bias and a corporate culture rooted in the professional norms of white men are to blame, from assumptions based on negative stereotypes to microaggressions.”

                Jennifer Lopez is another Latina advocate for Latina entrepreneurs.  Lopez vocalized Latinas are more than just the valet parker, kitchen cook, and housekeeping.  But this is the image portrayed of Latinas.  We need to become a boardroom of unbiased stereotypes and stigmas of Latina women who are more than qualified to have a seat and serve on the board of corporate America.

                Corporate America must change the demographics and dynamics set up in their boardrooms and acknowledge the boardroom’s gender gap and the lack of Latina representation.  Let 2023 be a beginning for Corporate America to unnormalize the image of white males in the boardroom and to be an inclusive board with Latina women.  Latina women are capable of real decision-making in today’s society.

By Dr. D. Medina-Cortes

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