This is Our Time

According to the 2010 Census, the Hispanic community in the U.S. exceeded 50 million consumers. Every month, 50,000 Hispanics turn 18 years of age. There are more Hispanics here than the entire population of Canada, Greece, Spain, and most South American countries.

Hispanics make up the largest number of minority college students in the U.S. Our collective buying power was over $1 trillion in 2010 and it is growing at $100 billion per year and by 2015 it is set to reach $1.5 trillion. By 2050, Hispanics will constitute over 25% of the U.S. population. Yet, in spite of all these gains, Hispanics in 2012 are underrepresented in almost every sector of our society: in government, nonprofits, and at Fortune 500 companies. As of this writing, there are only seven CEOs in the Fortune 500---all men---and we only know of one Latina CEO in the Fortune 1000.

As president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) I am proud that Hispanic inclusion on corporate boards is at the forefront of our mission and serves as one of our four corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity pillars, with the others being employment, procurement and philanthropy.

Understanding the power of a coalition, HACR in 2004, along with Catalyst, the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and the executive search firm Prout Group, partnered to form the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD). In 2008, the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) joined ABD and in May 2011, at the HACR Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C., ABD released our third census report. The report found that Fortune 500 boards were less diverse than Fortune 100 boards. Men held close to 85% of all board seats. White men dominated the boardroom, holding 77.6% of board seats. Minority men held 6.8%. White women held 12.7%. Minority women held 3%.

More specifically, African-American women held 1.9% of Fortune 500 board seats; Hispanic women held 0.7%; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.3%; African-American men held 2.7%; Hispanic men held 2.3%; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.8%. Women and minorities were significantly underrepresented in Fortune 500 board leadership positions. White men held 94.9% of board chair positions. There was not a single Latina lead director or board chair.

So what action is HACR and the Hispanic community taking to not only highlight the issue of under representation, but to begin to change the numbers? In October of last year, HACR launched a two year campaign called Advocate, which highlights the issues of underrepresentation visually through clever print ads, via Twitter using “fast facts” ---tidbits of information---and through the release of HACR’s first documentary film: Insider Game. This award winning documentary tells an intriguing and compelling story of commitment to our community from corporate leaders who understand that in order to move the needle forward and be successful…you have to play an insider game. A great friend and mentor, George Herrera, says it best: “If we are good enough to market to and buy your products, then we should be good enough to be included in senior management and on corporate boards.”

As always, HACR will continue to advocate in changing how corporations think about, measure, engage with and interact around Hispanic inclusion at the workplace, in the boardroom and with the Hispanic community. As Hispanics, it is our individual and collective responsibility to advocate for our community. In an ever-changing world of cultural diversity, we should all be advocates.This is our time. We need to step up to the plate and we need to own it.

By Carlos Orta