South America News


By now, a significant chunk of Argentina’s population has been confined to their homes for two and a half months. But it would be a mistake to say the economy has shut down, according to Mercedes D’Alessandro.

“The economy is more alive than ever if you think about the care economy,” she told AQ, referring to sectors like nursing and education, as well as work is done at home, such as cleaning and caring for children.

Women in Latin America are more at risk than men of losing their jobs and not returning to work due to the coronavirus crisis, experts said on Tuesday, calling on governments to adopt measures to assist women in low-paid jobs.

Women dominate the low-paid and informal sectors hardest hit by weeks of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, with massive job losses as the pandemic rages through Latin America, experts said in a webinar hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank.

Latina candidates are being left behind as California boardrooms add more women, even though Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the state.

Latina directors were appointed to only 3.3% of new board seats over the last 17 months as the companies scrambled to add women to meet a new state requirement that public boards have at least one female director by the end of last year, according to an analysis released Monday by the Latino Corporate Directors Association. White women gained the largest share, at 78%, the data showed.

“When you’re sitting in a boardroom, sometimes they’ll say, we need to have some minorities, but sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanics, and when they say women, sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanic,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, a director at Sempra Energy and Regional Management Corp. and former head of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama. “It has to be intentional because it’s easy to still make diversity goals and leave Latinas out.”

California lawmakers passed the bill in 2018 requiring all public companies based in the state to have at least one female director by the end of 2019. On Monday, the state is expected to publish the first official list of companies that failed to comply. They each face a fine of $100,000 and will have to pay three times that amount if they’re still in violation by the end of this year. At the end of 2021, the requirement rises to three women on most boards for California public companies.

Companies based in California have added 511 women since the state passed the new quota law, with only 17 Latina women among the group, the data found. White women gained 398 seats, Asian women were selected for 59 and black women picked up 27 seats, Latino Corporate Directors found.

The percentage of women added who are black was about the same as the percentage of black residents in California; the percentage of women added who are Asian was slightly below Asians’ share of the state population. Latinas’ 3.3% share of the new seats for women lags far behind Hispanics’ 39% share of California. By 2060, Hispanics are projected to make up about half the state’s population.

As big investors such as BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors have been pushing companies to add more women to boards, fewer initiatives have focused specifically on people of color. There are no regulatory requirements in Europe or the U.S. to add people of color in the boardroom or the C-suite. Five European companies have gender quotas for boards. Women of color made up only 4.6% of directors of Fortune 500 boards, with white woman holding 17.9%, a January study by researcher Catalyst found.

Three-quarters of the 116 Fortune 1000 companies in the state have no Latino directors, the study found. Among those 116 companies, 98.9% have no Latina directors. A big factor is that Hispanics lack access to capital to start businesses, and that reduces their power in the market, said Contreras-Sweet, who also was California’s secretary of business, transportation and housing from 1999 to 2003.

“When one in two high school graduates in California is Hispanic, you have to include Hispanics, or you’re not really reflecting your marketplace,” Contreras-Sweet said. “You can’t rely on the idea that, over time, we will get there. You have to be very intentional and remind people about this.”

Source: Bloomberg