Q&A with Monica Flores - “Driving culture change by challenging stereotypes”
Culture Risk
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Culture Risk
Is the definition of diversity and inclusion different in Latin America than in other parts of the world? What can male and female leaders do to challenge stereotypes? What can organizations do to drive culture change? 
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"Driving culture change by challenging stereotypes"—Angeles Fernandez interviews Monica Flores, president, LATAM, ManpowerGroup 
 

"We need role models, both male and female, who can actively champion this agenda and challenge the very engrained stereotypes about women that are so prominent in Latin America. It is these stereotypes that are programming our behavior toward women in the workplace."

An interview with Monica Flores, president, Latin America, ManpowerGroup 

Monica Flores became president of ManpowerGroup Latin America in January 2013. Since joining ManpowerGroup in 1992, she has held a variety of positions across the organization, including operations and sales manager from 1992 to 1998, deputy director for Operations and Administration from 1998 to 1999, commercial director from 2003 to 2007, and general director for the Mexico & Central America region from 2007 to 2013. Ms. Flores is president of the American Chamber of Commerce Mexico and member of the board of several universities, public institutions and private organizations. In addition, she is the president of the ManpowerGroup Foundation and counselor of the STEM movement. She is the author of "How to find your first job," a guide to help youths integrate into the workforce. 

Q: Do you think the definition of diversity and inclusion is different in Latin America than in other parts of the world? 

A: The definition of diversity is the same globally and is required in every environment. We are living in a changing world and it is more important than ever to include new ideas, new technologies and new perspectives. Diversity will help companies to compete globally and innovate. 

The difference is not in the definition of diversity but in the implementation of a culture of inclusion. In Latin America, we have a very traditional culture where women are expected to care for the family and behave in a certain way. We are expected to be feminine, quiet, obey and not to take risks, but to be a stable figure within a family context. This cultural context dramatically impacts what organizations expect from female leaders. 

Q: What then can organizations in Latin America do to create diverse and inclusive working environments? 

A: I think that CEOs of big organizations in Latin America must commit publicly to the critical importance of this topic and accept their responsibility in pressing for progress. This is not simply a human resources problem, it is more broadly a problem of our society and the businesses that operate within it. I would like to see CEOs publicly committing to realistic goals and objectives which are measured and achieved. Committed CEOs will help to drive culture change within their organizations, which is ultimately what will make the difference. We need organizations, and the people that make up those organizations, to truly believe in the importance and the value of this agenda. 

We also need more role models, both male and female, who can actively champion this agenda and challenge the very engrained stereotypes about women that are so prominent in Latin America. It is these stereotypes that are programming our behavior toward women in the workplace. 

Q: Do you think that corporate environments in Latin America are welcoming of diverse perspectives? 

A: Organizations are more welcome of diverse perspectives in Latin America than some would think, but this has not translated into real progress when it comes to numbers. We need to do things differently to help women ascend to top positions. Organisations need structured programs in place to help retain women in the workforce. We need to coach these women through the stages in their lives where they are most likely to leave by providing supportive infrastructure, but also by instilling in them the understanding that they can have a family and still work. But, of course, none of this is going to happen without an engaged CEO. 

Q: What else can organizations do? 

A: Organizations must be authentic on this topic or we are in danger of not fully realizing the benefits that a diverse organization presents. We must be welcoming of all perspectives. Only then will we be able to prove how diverse teams drive business value, which in turn will allow other organizations to truly understand the benefits that diversity talent promises. This is about culture change, and it will take time, but the more success that we are able to have, the quicker other businesses will realize the importance of this agenda. 

Thank you, Monica.