Companies know that they can use these things to their advantage. “I have held a variety of positions where my language and cultural kills were leveraged in the marketplace for business success,” says Pena. According to Wiskocil, her promotion to vice president was in large part due to her Spanish language skills.
In spite of the support and encouragement Latinas have received at these companies, it has by no means been an easy road to the top. Latina executives emphasize the necessity for Latinas and other minorities to work just as hard as their coworkers. “Being Hispanic or a woman is no excuse for anything less than excellence,” says Villoch. “There is no tradeoff with regard to performance.”
In fact, sometimes it is necessary for Latinas to work even harder. “We must continually prove ourselves and demonstrate that we belong in the highest ranks of the corporation,” say Pena.
Explains Buscaglia, “I think women in general still lag far behind in pay and opportunity throughout corporate America. Being Hispanic only makes it worse. I also don’t believe in tokenism. You have to be the best that you can be and earn your place.”
No matter what challenges one comes up against in her career, it is her responsibility to confront and overcome them. They will not go away on their own. Says Norma Martinez Lozano, the president of diversified business at SBC Communications, “As Hispanic women, we should be ready to meet opportunities and challenges with open arms. Look at every challenge as an opportunity to make a positive difference.”
Another way to make a positive difference, and one that Latinas at all levels seem to place a high value on, is mentoring. Having a mentor is something that all employees, from the bottom to the top of the ladder, can benefit from. In turn, Latinas emphasize the importance of giving back and serving as mentors themselves. Says Villoch, “Most of all, remember to coach and mentor those that are coming behind you as you rise up.”
Adds Lozano, “As you progress in your career, make sure to leave the door open so others can come along with you. There is one standard that is very important — always remember where you came from.”