Mentors hold you accountable for your actions.
By Yvonne Garcia (Director of Segment Marketing, Liberty Mutual & National Vice President, ALPFA)

The Labor Council for Latin America Advancement (LCLAA) report recently released some surprising statistics regarding women in the workforce. Their findings include the following results: over 2.5 million (31.7%) are in sales and office occupations, and less than 2 million (24.1%) are in management or professional occupations, yet Latinas earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by U.S. white males.

The numbers are even more problematic when it comes to women in Corporate America, female entrepreneurs, and women in technology. In a 2009 study, where Latinas formed 5% of entry level technology jobs. That number was at zero percent at the highest levels – CEO and CTO.

Solutions to address this troubling reality are complex. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated considering the work that needs to be done to change these statistics. Yet as a seasoned Latina in Corporate America, I know from experience there is one thing we ourselves as women can do to make an impact and that is step up our roles as mentors as well as seek them out. This applies to all women in business, women in technology.

My own experience with mentorship has been enlightening. I have been surprised throughout my career to find myself surrounded by individuals who want to help me succeed and take pride in my advancement throughout my career. The reason I categorize this as a surprise is because often times the business environment can be very competitive and it becomes a race to the top. One should consider themselves very fortunate when you find an individual that is willing to hold your hand and take you with them.

On my journey to the top, I have come across individuals that have invested in me and have made it part of their objective to see me succeed. I am very fortunate to have that but more importantly, I in turn have done the same for others. I believe this is crucial in my own career and personal growth.

Most successful women in business that I have met have several mentors which happen to meet different aspects of their life, both personally and professionally. A mentor is typically someone you admire, someone who holds strong leadership abilities and some who inspires you and others.

In today’s competitive environment, mentors are becoming more and more important for women because they will hold you accountable for your actions, help you set realistic goals and assist you in finding ways to balance your time. They are also helpful because they are on the outside looking in and can see when you have reached a plateau in your career.

The really good mentor will help bring a new prospective along and will keep you focused on your long term goals. I have found my male mentors to be the most helpful because they bring a different perspective and outlook on my career than a woman does, however; there are benefits to both. At times a woman mentor can understand your challenges of balance and career growth better. I recommend both.

If you’re an entrepreneur and self-employed, it’s important to find someone who has faced the challenges of being in business for him or herself. If you’re in technology, it is crucial to find someone – a woman, if possible – who has similar skills as you. She would be either in the business development or technology end and should have had some experience with V.C funding.

Latinas will continue to play a critical role in the future of this country. Many serve as role models within their communities and are examples of individuals who have actualized the values held dear by their groups. As the growing pool of talent in the Latino population is becoming increasingly comprised of Latinas who are known to construct organizations and business more efficiently than their precursors, it represents a tremendous opportunity for the young generation of Latinas to make history in America – in business and in technology.

Our culture embraces a love for life in a compassionate way and historically has found alternative solutions to breaking down barriers to success. The contributions of Latina entrepreneurs will have a strong and positive impact on the future of the United States, but only if we foster and seek out a network and community of supportive mentors that are willing to be there for you and guide you along the way.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Yvonne Garcia was recently named of one of LATINAStyle’s Top Five Executives of the Year. In addition to her day job as Director of Segment Marketing for Liberty Mutual, Yvonne is National Vice President for ALPFA, the largest non-profit Latino professional organization in the country committed to building business leaders. She has two young children, a busy career and robust volunteer life.