Despite few female CEO's in Latin America, quotas are not the answer, executives say.
BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
With only nine female CEOs on the Latin 500 ranking of Latin America’s largest companies, there is renewed focus on the topic of gender quotas in companies.
While the European Union is seriously considering this, several prominent female executives in Latin America oppose such measures for the region.
Maria das Graças Foster, who became the first female CEO of Brazil’s oil giant Petrobras last month, has stated that she opposes quotas.
Meanwhile, several female executives interviewed by Latin Business Chronicle share that view.
“The opportunities should be created based on competences and skills,” says Yolanda Auza, a Colombian native who is the general manager of US-based IT company Unisys’ LACSA division, which includes all of Latin America except Brazil and Mexico.
Instead, she argues for companies to try to accommodate the needs of working women in terms of home and family obligations even during normal work hours.
Romaine Seguin, president of the Americas division of U.S.-based logistics giant UPS, concurs.
“Companies should be focused on finding candidates with the right set of skills and talent that will position the enterprise for growth,” she says. “This approach excludes gender as a factor.”
Like Auza, she advocates for companies to institute programs for the continued development and growth of their women executives.
So why so few female CEOs on the Latin 500?
“It remains a closed club with the much discussed glass ceiling,” Susan Segal, President and CEO of the Council of the Americas, told Latin Business Chronicle last month.
However, Auza also points to the challenges of balancing family life and a demanding CEO job. “Finding a balance of this demanding position and family or personal life could be one of main inhibitors,” she says.
There’s a need to put on the table a discussion about how to share family responsibility between men and women so that opportunities for career growth are equally evaluated for both, Auza says. "Sometimes it’s the women that decide not to grow and sometimes it’s the companies who decided not to give [them] opportunities, both [because of] the time required to attend the families,” she says.
And “it also could be that the main goal for a career of brilliant women is not always the power of the CEO position.”
However, companies need to address diversity. “In Latin America, we need to work more on the awareness of the benefits of diversity," Auza says.
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