Corporate Latin America: archaic stereotypes to overcome: research consistently shows that companies with women in top leadership positions do better financially, but it still remains a challenge for women working in the region to get a corner office or a seat in the boardroom.

Author:Rousseau, Millie Acebal

Executive careers go hand-in-hand with travel and international relocation. Latin American culture praises men with international careers, but what happens to Latin American female executives when they have to travel often or relocate? Often, a woman's absence is felt in the home, and they must balance the pressure of their careers with raising a family. Women with female mentors and outside help to assist with childrearing--whether family or hired--fare better. But to succeed, they also need the unwavering support of their employers.

Microsoft is an example of a corporation trying to advance the corporate landscape when it comes to women.

"We assign mentors to women to help them develop; we enrich succession plans and rewards system ensuring we are fair with our diverse community; we keep attracting, developing and retaining female talent as a core competency on our strategy," said Sandra Yachelini, general manager and partner solutions, small and medium companies for Microsoft Latin America. "This is a great time to be a woman leader in IT in the region."

According to McKinsey's global survey, "Why top management eludes women in Latin America" (August 2013), barriers to advancement remain stubbornly in place.

The top two barriers cited were: "double burden syndrome," women balancing work and domestic responsibilities (Latin American women dedicate 26.6 hours per week to domestic activities compared with 10.6 hours for men); and the "anytime, anywhere performance model," which requires employees to be available 24/7 and have geographic mobility.

Participants interviewed said that the belief that women must take care of the family is strong enough in their countries that it impacts their career decisions--70 percent said this notion influences at least some women to leave their jobs. Another 78 percent of survey respondents reported that the cultures in their home countries make it easier for men than women to advance in their careers, particularly in Brazil and Mexico.

Over half of the people surveyed also said that this cultural bias influences their own companies' approaches to gender diversity.

There's beginning to be a shift in corporate strategy, but for now, it's more of a ripple than a tidal wave.


One of the main hurdles women face is obtaining support from their companies.

Endeavor, a global non-profit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs, provides incentives to women with families. "Endeavor is very...

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