The Rise Of Latino Leaders In Corporate America

The article in BusinessWeek about Latino Leaders highlights some important aspects of what it means to be Latino or Latina in corporate America. I respect and admire the work that Bernardo Ferdman and Placida Gallegos have done in their study about Identity Orientations of Latinos in the United States.

The differences between the cultural clusters within the Latino community are just as much about cultural background as they are about educational levels and language.

Educational differences are the new “generational gap” for Latinos that live in the United States. A good education will put you in track to success in corporate America regardless of race, however for a Latina or Latino with incomplete education the impact is much greater.

At the highest levels of corporate America, you can find examples of very successful Latinos and Latinas that have gotten there by breaking glass ceilings and walls. The global war for talent has gone beyond race and nationality thus creating a more leveled playing field for Latinos and Latinas.

Furthermore, companies that fail to harness an individual’s potential will not be able to succeed at a global level and might be considered a secondary choice for employment by the top Latino talent available worldwide.

The challenge from my point of view is not how to bring our background into the higher ranks of corporate America but how do we create a more balanced, accepting and educated workforce where the strengths of your cultural background can be fully utilized.


  1. I liked the story but not convinced with the studies… One feels as though your woman had been failed, another at the disposal of the Military (paternal coaching)… Don't get me completely wrong they'll be productive members of modern society but not really operating out of the education obtained…

  2. It is remarkable to me how many medium-sized and big corporations still treat working from home as if it is an opportunity to goof off. Then they wonder why they suffer from a brain drain!

  3. Kathy, I agree with some of what you say. I either get held up as a hero and example for the community or am vilified by others in my community. There are 2 different dynamics I have seen and experienced. Those that want there children to succeed and do better than them and look for those that achieve to use for examples. And those who, due to socio-economic situations have had their careers stunted and wish to belittle any who advance and either do not support or actually look to erode support of those who wish to advance. On a brighter note, I also went to a highly acclaimed school in Chicago, where 98% of the graduates go on to college and 86% percent graduate form college. When, I went there, there was only about 4% Hispanics attending. There are now about 40% Hispanics enrolled. So things will get better over time.

  4. Antonio, I read the article and do agree with it, but do not really agree with everything that you have gotten from the article That th three key contributions that most latino leaders are: Caring for all parties involved, Trying to find a way to meet everyone’s needs, Be what you are but don’t carry it on your sleeve. I am Project Manger and consider myself middle class. My roots translate on my fathers side to the early 1600's in New Mexico and my mother is from Leon, GTO, Mexico. the different orientations exist within my family. Do we care for all groups involved: Yes. Trying to find a way to meet everyone's needs: No, I would saying trying to meet most of the needs would be more correct. You cannot please all of the people all of the time. Be what you are but don't carry it on your sleeve. Not always. I see myself and other Latinos become very passionate about what they represent. Yes, I agree with the beginning precepts about being incensed by others when asked where I am from. I do agree with you that there is a void in the middle and do find myself hitting a glass ceiling.

  5. A discussion regarding Hispanic professionals cannot ignore the leadership pipeline. Colleges and universities are the major source for new workers. College student graduation and completion of education (retention) have been an important area of concern for higher education for many years; one measure of their effectiveness is student persistence of their educational. According to research data, the increase in the Hispanic college-age population has not translated into an increased number of college graduates. In 2000, Hispanics accounted for 12.5% of the United States population and 17.5% of the college-age population; however, only 10.8% of the high school graduates were Latino, 9.9% of the associate degree recipients were Latino, and only 6.6% of all bachelor’s degrees and 3.8% of all doctorates were Latino individuals. These statistics indicate that Hispanics are severely underrepresented in all stages of the higher education pipeline. The long-term impact of this trend suggests that Hispanics are more likely to be underrepresented in professional and managerial occupations.

    Sorry for the long response — but this is an important topic!

  6. Research also illustrates that not enough Hispanics are represented at the managerial and leadership levels to serve as mentors for a new generation of Hispanic professionals. This gap in social network introductions and advocacy directly impacts Hispanic professionals’ opportunities for management and leadership positions. Without a support network, Hispanic professionals do not have the same advantages as non-Hispanic Whites. Evidence from one study shows no more than 27% of Hispanic professionals have a mentor in their organization and more than 83% of mentors in organizations were non-Hispanic Whites.

  7. Great topic as I did my doctoral studies in this area. According to studies, Hispanic workers are more likely to be found in supportive, administrative, food services, and construction industries than non-Hispanic Whites. Hispanics are less likely to be employed in “finance and insurance; professional, scientific and technical; and public administration industries, all industries with a large professional workforce. Study data indicates that Hispanics were negatively impacted during the reorganizations of the 1990s. When compared to non-Hispanic Whites, findings show fewer Hispanic professionals were hired in certain industries and suffered significant losses in others.

  8. I understand your optimistic point of view, but I kindly disagree. I'm a legal studies major at St. John's University in New York City with several latino studies like myself. More often then not, my latino classmates (majority of which are first generation americans like me) are apathetic because they have a lack of support coming from their bases: their family and their home. The desire to compete on a global stage with their talents in business or marketing seems to absent because they're all extremely focused on the short term benefits. I wish that I could believe in my latino peers but I came from a highly acclaimed public high school in a moderately diverse town and I can count the small number of latino students who graudated with me out of the countless number of latino students i started high school with. Vanity, recklessness and momentary wealth rule my generation and I see real life examples of it everyday.

    1. @kathyaltamirano You are in a great path already since you understandthe obstacles you need to tackle. As a side note, I had a similar experience while getting my computer science degree in San Francisco. The first year we had many many students from all types of backgrounds and ethnicity. By the 3rd year there were 2 Latinos. Eduardo and myself. You would hope for more variety at a State school in the heart of San Francisco.

      One thing I learned is that one person can make a huge difference in your experience. But mostly that you need to choose your own path. You have to swim against the current and make it look easy (though is very hard) so that others behind you can follow. Your family and friends will understand but if not then you've got your answer right there.

      And let me be a bit cheese with this last quote, one of my favorites:

      “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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