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Corporate America, You’re Missing Out on the Best ‘Jefas’ Out There – And It’s Time This is Fixed

Corporate America, You're Missing Out on the Best 'Jefas' Out There – And It's Time This is Fixed

Recently, I’ve heard several people tell me how they don’t like the constant use of the word “jefa” in Latine spaces. These people feel like it’s being overused and that, in Gen Z terms, is a bit “cringe.” However, let’s unpack this jefa movement. In essence, it was created to fill the void that exists in our reality: There aren’t enough jefas in corporate America. This truth has glared at us for years and Lean In just proved this.  

Challenges Faced by Latinas in the Corporate World 

The past five years of Lean In’s research on the state of women in the workplace highlight a disturbing trend: Latinas encounter the steepest climb up the corporate ladder and remain the most underrepresented group in the C-suite. While Latinas make up over 9 percent of the U.S. population, they represent just under 5 percent of entry-level workers. This significant underrepresentation at the beginning of their careers sets the stage for a continued struggle as they advance. 

Lean In’s first-ever report on the state of Latinas in corporate America provides an in-depth analysis of these challenges. It reveals that Latinas face the most substantial drop in representation from entry-level positions to the C-suite. Despite entering the workforce with high ambition and a commitment to advancing, only 1 percent of C-suite executives are Latina. This trend suggests that without intervention, Latinas will continue to lag behind other groups, both women and men, in leadership roles. 

Latinas Can Thrive in Corporate America – Even the Creative ‘Jefa’

Aside from being a writer, I also do marketing in a corporate setting. Here’s the thing: I am blessed to be in a company where women leaders, including Latinas, are celebrated – and this has empowered me to speak out on the importance of this recognition.  

Oftentimes, I am talking about how I love corporate America and how one of my missions in my career is to climb the corporate ladder. However, this isn’t the “norm” for creatives. At least, that’s what some people have told me. Being that I am formally trained as a writer and I was immersed in all the humanity subjects while I explored my career’s trajectory, a lot of people haven’t taken my liking to corporate America lightly. I’ve been called a “sell-out” for caring about “processes” and “numbers,” rather than just focusing on writing all day. Look, if I could, I’d be a full-time author. But the truth is that I love the high I get from seeing myself grow in spaces that my past generations couldn’t fathom ever be in.  

I’m now evolving as a professional, and I don’t think there’s a week that goes by where I am not encouraging other Latinas to give corporate America a chance. After all, we are massively underrepresented (as the aforementioned data suggests) — and it’s time we let everyone know QUE HEMOS LLEGADO.  

Why Latinas Are Crucial to the Growth of All Industries

Latinas bring a unique perspective and set of skills that are essential for the growth and innovation of any industry. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences enable them to offer fresh ideas and solutions that can drive companies forward. We are fu*king badasses and we know it. Sure, some of us (*cough* me *cough*) struggle with impostor syndrome, but it’s because we are trying to thrive in a system that doesn’t even create proper space for us!  

Here are a few reasons why Latinas are indispensable to the success of corporate America: 

Diverse Perspectives: Latinas often have multicultural experiences that allow them to understand and cater to a broader customer base, enhancing a company’s ability to reach diverse markets. 

Resilience and Adaptability: Having navigated systemic barriers, Latinas possess resilience and adaptability that are invaluable in dynamic business environments. 

Commitment to Community: Many Latinas have a strong sense of community and social responsibility, which can translate into corporate cultures that prioritize social impact and corporate responsibility. 

Leadership and Innovation: Latinas’ drive and ambition can lead to innovative leadership that pushes companies toward new heights of success and growth. 

Let’s Make ‘Jefa’ Moves

To ensure Latinas have equal opportunities to grow, develop, and lead in corporate America, specific actions must be taken. Companies and organizations need to actively work toward creating a more inclusive environment. Y’all pay attention now. 

Here are some steps that can help: 

Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs: Establishing mentorship and sponsorship programs can provide Latinas with the guidance and support they need to navigate their careers and reach executive positions. (THIS IS HUGE.) 

Diversity and Inclusion Training: Implementing comprehensive diversity and inclusion training can help address unconscious biases and foster a more inclusive workplace culture. 

Recruitment and Retention Initiatives: Companies should focus on recruiting Latinas at all levels and creating retention programs that support their professional growth and development. 

Leadership Development Programs: Offering tailored leadership development programs can prepare Latinas for executive roles (aka jefa roles) and ensure they have the skills and confidence to succeed. 

Accountability and Transparency: Organizations should set clear diversity goals and regularly report on their progress, holding themselves accountable for creating a more equitable workplace. 

Empowering ‘Jefas’ for a Stronger Future

The underrepresentation of Latinas in executive positions is not just a matter of fairness but a significant loss of potential for the corporate world. Latinas are crucial to the growth and innovation of all industries, bringing diverse perspectives, resilience, and a strong commitment to community and leadership. By implementing targeted strategies to support their advancement, companies can not only address this disparity but also unlock new opportunities for success and growth. 

It is time for corporate America to recognize the value of Latina leadership (and the brilliance of a jefa) and take meaningful actions to ensure they are represented at every level, especially at the top. 

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