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By Marisa Rivera

Corporate America is missing out if they are not focusing on one of the strongest assets they’ve got – Latinas. As consumers and as employees, Latinas are the missing link, they are a rare and untapped market that should not be ignored.

Today, Latinos represent 57 million of the U.S. population, representing almost 18 percent of the country’s population with significant spending power. In fact, Latino buying power reached $1.4 trillion in 2016—and we expect it to reach $1.8 trillion by 2021 (Selig Center for Economic Growth, Univ. of Georgia). The Latina population in the U.S. is not only expanding in influence, but in sheer numbers. There are now 28 million Latinas living in the U.S. making them 17 percent of the total U.S. female population and 9 percent of the total U.S. population (Latina 2.0-Nielsen).

Latinas are one of the fastest growing groups of women in the U.S. labor force. They make up 7.2 percent of the total U.S. workforce and are expected to make up 8.5 percent of the workforce by 2024 (U.S. Dept. of Labor).

Companies that understand the importance of globalization, innovation and focus on emerging markets and know the demographic changes in America today will reap the benefits of understanding the Latina market. Latinas are a powerful economic force that should not be ignored.

Latinas are not only the primary decision-makers in the Hispanic households and thriving in the marketplace; they are also making great strides in education, politics and the workplace. They are also creating a boom in women entrepreneurship. Latinas outpaced the U.S. population for new business creation. They represent 44 percent of the Hispanic-owned firms, and 15 percent of all female-owned firms, growing 87 percent, during the last five years. (U.S. Census 2017).

Latinas in the U.S. come with some natural built-in abilities that translate into important business skills in the global economy. Given that biculturalism, bilingualism and people skills are key assets for corporations doing business in the U.S. and abroad. Latinas are uniquely positioned for leadership in Corporate America. One such skill is the ability to navigate between cultures. They can become excellent ambassadors to the companies they work for. “Biculturalism” allows Latinas to serve as “connecting points” to other countries as well as with the large and the growing Latino market.

Another key ability is bilingualism. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. For Latinas in the U.S. who speak Spanish and English fluently, this asset gives them an edge over other candidates. Additionally, Latinas value their community. Helping and supporting others is embedded in their culture, making them the perfect missing link to businesses (Fairygodboss).

Latinas are a valuable talent pool for Corporations working in a global economy, yet they only represent one percent of the executives in the United States. Latinas as employees in Corporate America is an imperative, not just at the entry level positions, but at senior decision-making levels. Corporations are losing the important Latina pool to the Latina entrepreneurial boom, because of lack of promotions, lower pay and other barriers facing Latinas within Corporate America.

Today’s Latina is expanding her foot print in all sectors of society. Corporations should look to increase their market share by placing more Latinas in executive positions. And for Latinas, we must demand our place in Corporate America as we become an instrument of economic growth and never forgetting that our culture, language and diversity are our major source of strength, pride, courage and business savvy – Let’s use it to our advantage.

Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant.

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