Over the next decade, retiring baby boomers should create an abundance of openings for ambitious Hispanic women and other minorities seeking high-profile management positions. Companies will have no choice – hire more minorities and women to fill slots vacated by boomers, or face a severe worker shortage, according to demographers and workplace consultants.
It's an opportunity that will allow other Hispanic women to follow in the footsteps of the members of this year's Hispanic Business Elite Women list and reach the heights of our five finalists for Woman of the Year.
"So many management and executive positions have been dominated by white males over 50. Because that segment will be retiring in significant numbers, it will create a vacuum that will pull in a lot of talented women and minorities," says Rick Miners, an executive search and outplacement consultant and co-author of the business best seller "Don't Retire, Rewire!" "There are already employee shortages in health care, defense, and the federal government, and utilities, energy, gas, and oil. And they will get worse."
The severity of the shortage will depend on how many boomers choose to continue working past retirement age. Many companies are adopting policies to help their best older employees continue to work at least part time. But the sheer size of the Boomer Nation makes a shortage inevitable, experts predict.
Baby boomers are the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. The oldest boomers began turning 60 in 2006. More than 40 percent of the U.S. work force will reach retirement age by 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). By 2012, the number of employees between the ages of 55 and 64 will increase 51 percent, while the number of workers 35 to 44 declines by 7 percent. Meanwhile, Hispanics account for 14 percent of the U.S. population and make up 40 percent of its labor force growth. Both figures will continue to rise dramatically, according to the bureau.
ALL SIGNS ARE GO
Other demographic trends bode well for Hispanic women getting their share of boomer vacancies: The percentage of Hispanic females in the workforce will increase from 55.3 percent in 2005 to 60.5 in 2020, according to BLS figures. Meanwhile, the bureau says the percentage for Hispanic men will decline from 80.1 percent to 76.9. The participation rates for white men will drop from 72.9 to 69.4, and decline slightly for white women from 59.5 to 58.8. Hispanic women who work full time earn 89 percent of what men earn each week, compared to 81 percent for women overall.
Such trends could help increase the number of Hispanic female candidates for top corporate executive slots.
That number has nowhere to go but up, says Virginia Clarke, a partner with the Spencer Stuart executive search firm and head of its diversity practice. "I can think of only a handful of [Hispanic] women who are in very senior executive roles at major companies," she says. "I'm having a hard time thinking of 25 or 30. It's consistent with what you see for African-American and Asian women. It's a very slow ascension to the top."
However, she adds, more prominent Hispanic women who own businesses and have top positions in academia and with community development organizations are being considered for corporate boards. Hispanic men account for most of the 70 Hispanics who hold the 100 board seats among Fortune 500 companies, according to the HispanTelligence® January 2007 Boardroom Elite report. There were 67 Hispanics on 96 seats in 2006, and 69 on 95 seats in 2005.
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