A new report examines the state of Latinas in corporate America, and it’s not good

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An underrepresentation of Latinas in entry-level corporate roles only worsens as their careers progress, making them the least-represented group of C-suite executives in the U.S., according to a new report.

The State of Latinas in Corporate America report, published Wednesday by LeanIn.org, a nonprofit organization focused on women in the workplace co-founded by former Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, found that Latinas occupy just 1% of C-suite roles in the U.S. workforce. The report used data from Lean In and McKinsey & Co.’s annual Women in the Workplace study, as well as expert analysis, to provide a comprehensive breakdown of the challenges it says Latinas face at work.

Latinas encounter two critical “broken rungs” as they climb up the corporate ladder, according to the report. They are overlooked for management roles and then again for senior leadership roles. While Latinas hold just 4.9% of entry-level corporate jobs, the number shrinks to 3.3% at the managerial level and 2% for senior leadership roles.

“This holds Latinas back at a key moment when the C-suite is finally in view,” the report says.

Rachel Thomas, a co-founder and the CEO of Lean In, said performance bias in the form of stereotypes about Latinas clashes with traditional expectations of what makes a good fit for corporate jobs and managerial roles. Latinas, she said, are associated with “domestic work, having large families, being less educated, being fiery and emotional.”

“That is such a tired stereotype, and one we’re all aware of,” she said. “But taken together, it’s a set of biases that make it particularly hard for qualified Latinas to get corporate positions and then advance. It just feels to me like a particularly sinister constellation of stereotypes.”

That lack of progression up the corporate ladder has cumulative effects. Activists say Latinas still earn 52 cents for every dollar earned by non-Hispanic white men and miss out on nearly $1.2 million in lifetime earnings. That leaves them with an average net worth less than 1% of the average white man’s, according to the report.

“This pay gap is often largely attributed to Latinas working in jobs and industries that pay less,” the report said. “But even within corporate America, there are signs that the pay gap remains the widest for Latinas: an analysis of U.S. census data shows that Latinas working in business and finance earn 26 percent less than white men — the least of any group of employees.”

A lack of sponsorship and support from management can also be a significant factor in Latinas’ career trajectories. Latinas are less likely than white women and women overall to be recognized and praised for their accomplishments or have senior leaders advocate for them, the report found. Only 39% of Latinas say their managers have shown interest in their career advancement, compared with 46% of white women and 44% of women overall.

Thomas said: “They are getting less support in those areas. And of course, those are areas that are critical for moving to the pipeline and advancing.”

Research has also found that Latinos have less access to flexibility at work, including the ability to work remotely or take time off to handle personal matters. But Thomas said Lean In’s report showed that even if flexible options are available, Latinas often won’t use them.

Latinas “feel like they’re micromanaged more than other women overall. They feel like they’re judged based on when and where they’re working and not outcomes. So there’s not enough of an outcome mindset,” Thomas said. “Knowing that this is an area where Latinas feel more reluctant, I think that could be an unlock” for managers.

Though the study found that Latinas face the steepest path to advancement of any group, it also indicates they remain highly ambitious and committed to their advancement. Nearly 90% of Latinas say they’re interested in getting promoted to the next level at work, compared with 78% of white women and 81% of women overall.

The report also lays out a number of ways employers can help boost Latinas’ advancement — like monitoring for bias in hiring and performance reviews, creating cultures that embrace flexibility, regularly reviewing data about performance and promotions, enhancing commitment to career sponsorship for Latinas and expanding recruitment efforts to include Hispanic-serving colleges and professional organizations.

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