It’s 2022 but corporations across the U.S. continue to lack equitable representation for Latinxs in their leadership. In 2020, Latinxs occupied just 4.1 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies, a stark contrast to Black people (8.7 percent) and Asian people (4.6 percent) and, most drastically, white people at 82.5 percent, according to a September 2022 report from the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA) via their recently released Latino Board Monitor program. The organization was founded in 2012 with the goal of developing, supporting, and advocating for more Latinx representation in corporate boardrooms across the nation. The numbers from their report have definitely improved from where they were a decade ago but change is slow-moving, creating a very unequal playing field for marginalized groups. When it comes to Latinas, the divide is even greater. Nationally, Latinas comprise nearly 10 percent of the total U.S. population, but hold only 1 percent of Fortune 500 board seats, Women Business Collaborative reported.
“THE NUMBER OF LATINOS ON BOARDS IS SO SMALL, AND WE KEEP HEARING THAT ORGANIZATIONS CAN’T FIND QUALIFIED CANDIDATES,” ESTHER AGUILERA TOLD THE PUBLICATION, THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE LCDA. “WITH OUR GROWING LCDA NETWORK OF MEMBERS, WE’VE PROVEN THERE IS AN AMPLE SUPPLY AND THAT EXCUSE NO LONGER APPLIES. DESPITE THIS STRONG QUALIFIED POOL, LATINOS HAVE LONG BEEN SYSTEMATICALLY EXCLUDED AND BYPASSED. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE IN 21ST CENTURY AMERICA.”
“We contribute 25 percent of the country’s GDP and will contribute 78 percent of net new workers to the workforce during this decade. This has to change,” added Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow, chair of the LCDA.
But it’s not all bad news. In the last two years, the report found that Latinx leadership at Fortune 500 companies has increased from 3.7 percent to 4.4 percent, and from 3.2 percent to 4.1 percent at Fortune 1000 companies. While any progress is a win for our communities, it is still frustrating to see how slowly qualified Latinx leaders are being recruited for positions in some of the most powerful companies in the U.S. like Apple. Especially when Latinas are facing even worse exclusion than Latinos, it’s hard to believe that there isn’t some racial or ethnic bias at play. Latinas were least represented with only 3.3 percent of women appointee, LCDA found after reviewing all women appointed to California public company boards.
With Latinxs making up about 20 percent of the overall U.S. population, corporations miss out on the valuable Latinx market by excluding members from those backgrounds and communities. That only creates further wealth disparity for Latinxs and keeps otherwise qualified and educated members on the sidelines. Including the Latinx perspective in some of the biggest companies in the world is win-win for everyone.
“This signals a real blind spot for corporate America,” Monique Navarro, LCDA associate vice president, told Axios Latino. “Both in terms of the strong candidate pool and the business case,” since “it’s Latinos who are driving growth in every consumer market segment and adding growth to the workforce.”