The Michigan Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) celebrated last Thursday, October 10th, the 5th Anniversary of its Women of ALPFA Summit. This year’s topic focused on “Advancing Latina Leaders through the Power of Influence”.
Sponsored by some of the largest corporations in Metro Detroit, including Chrysler, KPMG, General Motors, and Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the event took place at the lavish Ponchartrain and Georgiana Rooms of the Detroit Athletic Club in Detroit. The elite panel included distinguished business women executives Peggy A. Dzierzawski, President and CEO of the Michigan Association of CPAs. (with over 17,000 members); Laurie Macaddino, VP of Corporate Audit and compliance for Chrysler; and Sandra Moore, Director of Advertising and Sales Promotions for the Buick and GMC brands -- and the first Latina to hold this position.
ALPFA Michigan’s President, Jimmy Walker, gave a warm welcome to over 100 multicultural guests, who attended the event awaiting to listen to the expert opinions of these three successful female executives, and to learn how they view the role of the modern Hispanic businesswoman -- and in fact -- the role of businesswomen in general in today's hectic global business environment.
“We hope that this event will serve as a platform for professionals and students from diverse backgrounds… to develop their skills, share experiences, and grow their professional network”, said Walker.
After the networking reception and sit down dinner, the panel gathered to begin the discussion under the moderation of Amal Berry-Brown, Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan.
“Firms have to change”, explained Peggy Dzierzawski. “We have to attract young people. We have to attract different cultures… it is definitely the future”.
In the United States, 58% of the labor force is formed by women, but embarrassingly a gender gap still continues to exist. In 2011, full-time employed businesswomen earned only 82% of men’s salaries --according to statistics published in October 2012 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.
In the case of Hispanic women, the gap was even higher. Also in 2011, Hispanics earned only 69%, but... surprisingly when compared to their Hispanic counterparts, their median earnings were higher at 91%.
Education nowadays is making all the difference. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “… On an inflation-adjusted basis, earnings for women with a college degree have increased by 31 percent since 1979, while those of their male counterparts have risen by only 16 percent”.
At last week’s ALPFA Michigan event, all three panelists agreed that the most challenging aspect of a woman’s professional life continues to be the need to balance their home life and their professional career. A network of family and friends is often necessary, and this continues to be a challenge for women in the US, even in the ultra-modern 21st Century.
As the discussion progressed, it was clear to see that both panelists and moderator knew exactly what this balance is about. Panelists do not only hold demanding positions within their respective companies. They also hold other positions with non-profit organizations, as in the case of Laurie Macaddino, who is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountans and of the Michigan Association of CPAs.
As the panel rounded up the discussion, there were several questions asked by students and senior members of the ALPFA Michigan Board during the Q&A period.
“Believe in yourself! The biggest obstacle [for women] in balancing work and home life is trying to be everywhere, and do everything, and not have enough time for ourselves.” concluded Peggy Dzierzawski.