Latina leaders: Why millennials are the key
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Marie Quintana
As Network of Executive Women supporters, we have all carried
the banner for workplace diversity — and been disappointed to see the number of
women officers and board members stagnate. For Latina women, the results have
been even more disappointing.
Recently I faced this harsh reality when a retailer asked me to
moderate a panel of Latina executives in the consumer goods and retail
industry. We were quickly confronted by the scarcity of Latina executives to invite.
The scarcity of Latina women executives in the industry surprised the retailer,
herself a Latina.
We eventually found four amazing Latina women to sit on the
panel, and the event received a great deal of positive feedback. The audience,
a cross-industry group of men and women, was eager to learn from these Latina
leaders. For the women on the panel, it was an opportunity to support a
younger group of employees, many of them millennials, and to spotlight Latina
The Network’s 2008 best practices report, "Latinas: Opening
Doors to New Opportunities,” said Latinas were a critical component of the
consumer products and retail industry’s future. The report said, "Latinas represent 3.3 percent of all people
employed in management, professional and related occupations, but hold only 0.3
percent of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies.”
Sadly, we have barely moved the needle for Latinas since that
report. The question remains: What will it take to see a significant change in
the number of Latina leaders in our industry?
I believe it will take a generational change, and we must focus
on the next generation of female leaders: Millennials.
According to Pew Research Center, millennials "are the most
ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history. Among
those ages 18 to 29, 18.5 percent are Hispanic, 14.2 percent are black, 4.3
percent are Asian, 3.2 percent are mixed race or other, and 59.8 percent, a
record low, are white.”
It’s up to today’s women leaders to develop, mentor and sponsor
these diverse and talented young women.
In her book Rising Stars,
Elisabeth Kelan notes that millennial women are confronted by a lack of senior
women role models, who are "essential for leadership development because they
show the aspiring leaders their potential selves.”
This is the first generation of women, Kelan writes, whose self-confidence
is equal to that of their male peers — but that can have its downside. "If you
always take your success and failure on yourself, you are unable to see the
structural barriers that persist.”
Millennial women need to not only see female role models but engage
in meaningful conversations — and relationships — with them. Today’s female
leaders, especially those from groups traditionally underrepresented in
leadership, have a special opportunity to guide these young women.
Millennials are our legacy. It’s our responsibility to pay it
forward and develop millennial women, especially Latinas. They are, after all,
Marie Quintana is president of the Quintana Group, a consulting firm working with leading
companies and brands to define, refine and implement business strategies to
maximize sales results. Previously, Quintana spent 14 years with PepsiCo Inc.,
most recently serving as the senior vice president of PepsiCo multicultural
sales and marketing. A past NEW Board member, she was named one of the "Top
Women in Grocery” by Progressive
Grocer and is featured in the book The New Woman Rules.
Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.