Where are our Latina Business Leaders? — Eneida Roldan

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, 18.7 percent of the total population identifies as Hispanic or Latino. As women make up 50.8 percent of the total population, approximately 9.5 percent of our population are Hispanic women or Latinas. And yet, these percentages are nowhere near reflected in leadership positions in Corporate America.

In 1981 Roberto Goizueta was named CEO of Coca-Cola, the first Latino to hold that position in a Fortune 500 company. In 2017, more than 35 years later, a Latina finally joined the ranks when my fellow Cuban-born American Geisha Williams took the reins of PG&E. She remained the sole Latina CEO on the list until she stepped down in 2019. The second Latina to run a Fortune 500 company was Puerto Rican-born Cheryl Miller, but her tenure lasted just a year. There has not been a third. At present there are no Latinas among the 41 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 and these companies’ boards are also severely lacking in representation with Latinas holding a mere 59 director seats.

We are in the midst of women breaking the glass ceiling, but it is happening slowly and unequally in terms of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, while women in general continue to earn an average of 82 cents to every dollar their male colleague makes, the pay gap increases significantly when you factor in race. Latinas only earn an average of 55 cents to every dollar made by their white male counterpart. According to a report done by the National Women’s Law Center, over a 40-year career Latinas will earn $1 million or more less than their white male counterparts. This disparity in pay is certainly contributing to Latina women not taking on or staying in leadership positions.

As we look beyond the CEOs of the largest American companies, we can find Latinas in many disparate leadership roles. Every September, the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) publishes a list of the 50 Most Powerful Latinas. It encompasses actors turned entrepreneurs, executives with significant global operating roles in public companies, and the owners of privately held enterprises. The selection criteria used include the size and importance of the business in the global economy, the arc of the woman’s career, as well as her social and cultural influence. By putting a spotlight on Latina leaders, ALPFA is amplifying their voices to inspire the next generation. In fact, some years ago I had the honor of being a Keynote Speaker for an ALPFA Convention talking about Women and Leadership in Healthcare.

What more can we do to help Latina business leaders? A Korn Ferry study indicated that top women leaders mainly shared STEM (60 percent) and business (19 percent) backgrounds. As both a practicing doctor and a medical administrator with an M.B.A., I find those statistics highly relevant. As a Latina executive, I know that we need to be able to stand up for ourselves as minority women. We have to advocate for pay equality. We should mentor and support those who are trying to come up in the ranks. Let us ensure that Latinas in the corporate world can reach their full potential.

About Eneida Roldan: Eneida is a dynamic physician leader, a vibrant teacher and mentor, and a dedicated board member with service on an array of for-profit and not-for-profit boards. She has held executive positions in a full range of health care settings, including private and public hospitals, academic medical centers, and entrepreneurial medicine in the field of wellness and health promotion. She is passionate about advocating for diverse women in leadership positions and providing strategic solutions to improve business efficiency and effectiveness, while ensuring inclusive healthcare to all. Her most recent accomplishment has been providing crisis management throughout the pandemic to the Miami community.

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