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Latinas Critical Component of Industry's Future: NEW

CHICAGO -- Latinas are one of the fastest growing groups of women in the U.S. labor force, but remain one of the least represented in top positions at Fortune 500 companies, according to a new report from the Network of Executive Women here.

NEW's sixth Best Practices study says that while Latinas represent 3.3 percent of all people employed in management, professional, and related occupations, they hold only 0.3 percent of corporate officer positions in the Fortune 500, according to Catalyst research.

"Any company that doesn't focus on this is missing where the growth is," said NEW president Helayne Angelus, v.p./global customer diversity for Procter & Gamble. "The challenge is how to create the right attraction vehicle" to bring Latinas into the industry and how to retain and grow senior Latinas once they're here.

The report said "discrimination is a fact for Latinos in the United States," quoting studies from the Pew Hispanic Center and other organizations. "The CPG/retail industry has 'not broken the code' on Latina women," said Teresa Miller-Elliott, director of team sales for the Kellogg Co.

The report further cited a NEW workshop for Latina executives sponsored by PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. Participants said "invisibility, stereotypes and forced assimilation" were three of the most common challenges that Latinas faced in the workforce. "Many of the women spoke of not being seen, not being acknowledged, and facing stereotypes," said Trudy Bourgeois, the Center for Workforce Excellence c.e.o. and co-moderator of the NEW workshop, who added that some spoke of "having to deny their heritage to experience success," while others addressed having to be "the voice of Latinas" at their companies.

Angelus said consumer products and retail industry needs to aggressively recruit Latinas. "It's not going to be easy because they are not necessarily going to be thinking of our industry. We have to go and recruit Latinas where they are." Once on board, she continued, companies need to provide first-assignment mentors, high-visibility assignments, candid discussions on career-pathing, flexibility, and family-friendly policies.

Moreover, family-friendly policies are especially important, according to the report, which cited surveys that showed that a strong attachment to family is evident among Latinos generations removed from the immigrant experience.

For more information or a copy of "Latinas: Opening Doors to New Opportunities," contact NEW executive director Joan Toth at [email protected] or visit
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