Female is the future: women leaders in Latin America

Tatiana from Kilpatrick LATAM spoke candidly with Perla Buenrostro, the founder of Bolder Group on female leadership and leader in pandemic.


About Perla Buenrostro

Perla has led diverse teams and generated successful results in her performance as a consultant, editor, lawyer, researcher, and professor at major Latin American universities. She is an expert in international trade, sustainable development and gender, with 18 years of experience.


What do you think is the main obstacle for professional women who want to reach decision making positions in their companies?

In Mexico, only 16% of top management positions are comprised by women. However, the number of women that hold undergraduate and graduate degrees exceeds those of men is growing fast.

Women in LATAM need to have powerful role models to improve their self-esteem. This starts at home, in school and in our communities. Bolder Group and other platforms have worked a lot on women empowerment, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

This is a shared responsibility. In terms of public policy, new spaces need to be created to host these conversations and encourage more women on decision making positions. This can be seen on legislation such as the Securities Market Law in Mexico.


“Companies need to ask themselves: what are we doing with the female talent? How is this talent being allocated within the workforce? Are we preparing women to become the future leaders?”


However, this movement is still unfinished. The media and press need to provide visibility of the success of women in different industries, including sciences, technology, math and heavy industries. Companies need to ask themselves: what are we doing with the female talent? How is this talent being allocated within the workforce? Are we preparing women to become the future leaders?

Different studies have mentioned that the pandemic delayed the gender & diversity agenda by nearly 10 years. It is therefore important that the business community reassesses its commitments to the gender agenda. This includes supporting female talent, providing flexibility to maternity and paternity licenses and to continue generating an authentic culture of diversity and inclusion.


What do you think is the role that female leaders have played during this pandemic and how do you think it has changed?

It is important to consider the work-life balance. Before the pandemic, women in Mexico were already responsible for their families and their jobs. For the past year, this burden has doubled and the lines between our work and private lives have been blurred.

However, this pandemic has challenged our comfort zone. This has generated new opportunities of development in industries such as entertainment, healthcare, digital and green industries.

In the case of Mexico, there are stories of women play vital and active roles in vaccination as a part of the international pandemic response. However, a big proportion of Latin American women continue to struggle managing the balance between families and work. Advocating gender inclusion and diversity in the workplace will benefit the society as a whole.


“Advocating gender inclusion and diversity in the workplace will benefit the society as a whole.”


Education efforts continue to be very important. We need to re-educate ourselves and leave aside our unconscious biases to advance on the gender agenda. During the pandemic, there has been a focus to rethink matters like economic development, our consumption and production patterns, our self-care and health, among other things.

Major consultancies have highlighted the benefits of having a workforce with stronger inclusion and diversity. In addition, social movements such as Black Lives Matter and problems such as gender violence in Mexico keep this conversation in spotlight. The question is “how do we want to relate between ourselves for the years to come, and how do we want to be seen as societies in the future?”.


As a leader who provides support and advise to women, what do you think are the main challenges for HR during this pandemic?

Female entrepreneurs are facing big challenges derived from the pandemic. More than 90% of them lead micro or small companies, and only a small proportion of them manage to grow into middle-sized companies. Women have predominantly worried about the stability and survival of their companies. In addition, talent retention has also been a concern, as there have been huge staff cuts. Small companies do not always have the means or knowledge to keep, retain and develop the talent.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep teams motivated, and to harmonize the professional and personal lives of our employees. How can we beat our staff burn out and our fear to COVID19?

I am confident we will survive this pandemic with much more strength and resilience while developing new abilities.


What would be your advice for young female professionals who want to grow their careers in a highly competitive environment?

My advice for young women would be, to continue preparing and developing new abilities. Even though formal education is very important, soft skills are becoming increasingly relevant in the workplace. I also recommend them to have different professional challenges and to look for internships or part-time jobs to enrich professional experience. It is also important to look for mentors who could eventually become their sponsors – it is proven that the careers of young professionals advance more rapidly when they have mentors.


“Learn to negotiate, because life is a constant negotiation.”


Another piece of advice is to learn to negotiate, because life is a constant negotiation. In the workplace, this goes from looking to an opportunity to negotiating a salary raise. It is also important to take care of the personal development and focus on their families, education, arts and other hobbies. Finally, women need to acquire financial education, as in Latin America this role has been traditionally relegated to men.


This interview is a part of series by Kilpatrick LATAM, a monthly dialog with industry leaders focusing on human resource in LATAM.


About Kilpatrick
Kilpatrick thrives on providing human resource service to the most discerning clients in Europe, Latin America, Greater China, India, the US, and the Middle East. Kilpatrick‘s way of combining impeccable industry expertise and digital tools has become the trademark, the Kilpatrick teams are the local leaders with international visions.


About Bolder Group
Bolder Group focuses on supporting female entrepreneurship in LATAM. Established in 2018 and offer consultancy services to drive growth and accelerate through training, high-level mentoring and networking with clients. Bolder Group has supported entrepreneurs from different sectors, such as automotive, digital/IT and services in general.