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Latina Executives 2004

The Top 50 Companies for Latinas to Work for in the U.S

For the past seven years, LATINA Style Magazine has published the results of its LATINA Style 50 survey to determine the top 50 companies for Latinas to work for in the United States. With this year’s survey, whose results were included in the previous issue of LATINA Style, we have launched a corollary project. In this and each subsequent issue of the magazine, based on the same survey information retrieved for the LATINA Style 50, we will select 10 companies from the top 50 in various categories, beginning with the companies that have the largest percentage of Latina executives.

It is important for companies to maintain workforce diversity at all levels, and that is what these 10 companies are committed to doing. Says Alexandra Villoch, the director of retail advertising at The Miami Herald Publishing Company (KnightRidder), “Our company has complete and total commitment to diversity at every level — and it is not just “talk.” It begins with a deep understanding of the diversity of the community we serve.”

The top 10 companies are not just fulfilling quotas. “The company’s commitment to workforce and management diversity has been constant and steadfast, not just a ‘flavor-of-the-month’ activity,” says Angie Wiskocil, senior vice president of network services at SBC Communications.

Diversity is important not just in minority representation but in the opportunity it provides for various opinions and worldviews to join the table. “There [is] great value placed on … not only ethnic and racial diversity, but diversity of thought,” says Marti Buscaglia, the president and publisher of the Duluth New Tribune (KnightRidder).

Because of their commitment to diversity at all levels, and to providing opportunities and support to all of their employees, these companies have instituted programs and networks to encourage Latinas and other employees to climb the ranks and expand their skills. “Lucent Technologies has provided me with a strong support structure at different levels of the organization,” says Pena. “Through this network I am able to get coaching and direction as I consider different career opportunities.”

Companies place a high value on the dual-language skills that many Latinas possess, as well as on their cultural differences. Says Buscaglia, “Your very actions, reactions and style will be different simply because of the culture in which you were raised.”

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.”

Bold face indicates that a company was profiled in the LS50 Issue as one of the top 13 companies.

by Rebecca Corvino with Diana Rosado

[This article has been edited for
For the full version, check out the 2004 September/October issue of LATINA Style.]

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