Corporate America has a Latino problem.
By now, it almost a cliché – but the numbers continue to back it up. Across the nation’s Fortune 500 companies, there are just 10 Hispanic CEOs and only 3 percent of Latinos serve on corporate boards. That is about 137 out of 5,500 available board seats – the suits at the top of the proverbial ladder. The numbers are abysmal, especially when you consider Latinos constitute 17 percent of the nation’s population and have a purchasing power upwards of $1.3 trillion, and growing.
Companies say they value Latino money, but haven’t yet figured out how to include Latinos in the decision making.
Enter the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, a national organization looking to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America.
“There’s still this so called ‘good old boys’ club of board members who really keep to their vest whenever a board seat opens up,” said HACR’s new president and CEO, Cid Wilson, a Dominican-American Wall Street Equity guy who has become the leader of the Corporate Latino push. “And we believe that we have to advocate to the corporations that that culture does not serve them well.”
He said companies are being hurt by the lack of Latino representation on corporate boards they don’t understand how to properly tap into the Latino market.
“It doesn’t allow them to get the right guidance as to how to best market to Latinos and how to best not only have diversity with consumers but diversity with their employees – and to also attract the best possible talent.”
Wilson said securing a highly coveted seat on a corporate board still largely depends on who you know.
HACR encourages Fortune 500 companies to take their Corporate Inclusion Index, a survey that evaluates how the company is doing with diversity in leadership positions, and then the organization works with companies to help them improve. The bottom line is, Wilson said, the issue isn’t about a lack of Latino talent.
“We are not here to say get someone there just because they are a Latino,” Wilson explained. “We are saying we have qualified Latinos who can serve as CEOS, CFOS, COOs and CAO’s and to serve on corporate boards, who have the qualifications and educational backing and have the experience to be the best qualified person to serve in those fields.”