Latina Equal Payday
In a new study by LeanIn.Org, Latinas face many challenges as they enter and try to ascend corporate America, even in comparison to other women.

As Latinos become one of the most prominent minority groups in the U.S., they are also making their way into the corporate world. However, while the number of Latinos entering the workforce may increase, they are also facing an increasing amount of challenges, ones that are more accentuated among Latinas.

In fact, Latinas are the least represented group at the highest level of corporate America, with only 1% of C-suite, or executive positions, being held by Latinas. Most alarmingly, they are the group that see the biggest drop in representation as they move up the corporate ladder, according to a recently published report by

The study, titled "The State of Latinas in Corporate America" is LeanIn's first-ever report of its kind. It is also the largest study on the experiences of Latinas in corporate America, drawing heavily on Lean In and McKinsey & Company's annual Women in the Workplace study. The report looks at data from the past five years, as well as in-depth interviews with 26 Latinas across multiple industries, roles, and levels.

"Not only are Latinas the least represented in the C-suite, but they also confront two significant hurdles holding them back from critical promotions," said Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.Org. "As a result, Latinas are left trailing behind men and all other groups of women."

According to the study, Latinas begin their careers underrepresented in corporate America, with just 5% of entry-level workers being Latinas, compared to 9% of the population.

But this experience becomes even more highlighted as they ascend positions. The group also sees the biggest drop in representation from entry-level to the C-suite, as they lose 78% representation by the time they reach the highest levels of leadership, while men gain 64%.

These numbers are also carried over when looking at payment. Across the entire U.S. workforce, Latinas experience the largest pay gap of any group of women: they earn 52 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man earns. While this pay gap is often largely attributed to Latinas working in jobs and industries that pay less, even within corporate America, the pay gap prevails, and is widest for Latinas.

Within management, business, and finance roles, Latinas earn just 64 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man earns, compared to Asian women (83 cents), white women (78 cents) and Black women (66 cents), according to the study.

But why does this happen? Oftentimes, it is bias and prejudice that leads to these trends, rather than Latinas' attitudes and goals in the workplace.

According to the study, Latinas are highly motivated to ascend the corporate ranks, being more interested than women overall in being promoted to the next level (87% Latinas vs. 81% women overall' and in becoming senior leaders (71% Latinas vs. 63% women overall).

These ambitions are also growing at an outsized rate compared to white women. 44% of Latinas say career advancement has become more important to them in the last two years compared to 32% of white women.

But despite these high ambitions, Latinas don't get the support and recognition from both senior leadership and their own managers. According to Lean In, Latinas are less likely than white women and women overall to have their work highlighted to a leader or to have experienced a major sponsor action— such as being put forward for promotion.

Similarly, Latinas are less likely to ensure they get credit for their work and outwardly show interest in their career advancement, oftentimes because they are taught from a young age to be complacent, grateful and somewhat quiet, Lean In CEO Rachel Thomas told Latin Times.

"It's important for leaders to understand the unique challenges Latinas face in the corporate world and the way cultural norms can sometimes mask strengths," Priscilla Almodovar, President and CEO of Fannie Mae and the only Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company, said.

But while these challenges are present, solutions should also be on the radar, the study says. When it comes to ensuring more Latinas are present in corporate America, Lean In recommends expanding recruitment efforts to include Hispanic serving colleges and professional organizations, work to debias hiring and promotions, track key metrics by race and gender combined and more.

"Without tackling the workplace biases Latinas encounter, it will be nearly impossible for them to catch up to other groups of women— let alone men— in leadership roles," said Rachel Thomas, CEO of LeanIn.Org. "Supporting Latinas' advancement will require sustained focus and effort, but it's work worth doing. Creating a workplace where Latinas' talents and ambitions are fully recognized is good for Latinas and smart business."

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