Landscape of Hispanic corporate America: Shrinking Leadership

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As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo this month and as I think about Hispanic progress, I felt it appropriate to share my insights on the state of Hispanic leadership in corporate America – specifically the changing dynamics that impact the pipeline.



I want to call attention to the shrinking Hispanic pipeline, and that is ironic because the Hispanic community is quickly becoming the largest minority. In some states, they already are the largest minority.

At the risk of being repetitive, I have to restate the obvious: representation goals are ultimately satisfied with recruiting practices embedded in talent management strategies. The desire to pursue a diverse array of leaders – including women and all people of color – is having the result of diminishing Hispanic representation in leadership. I know many companies have vocally shifted their focus to recruiting and advancing Hispanic talent, but the reality is that their primary goal is ensuring a fully diverse group of leaders that includes both women and people of color. This is not different at all from what is happening with black talent.

Some would say the explosion of Hispanic population is due to immigration. That might be the popular perception, but Nielsen’s research shows a growing, sophisticated Hispanic population that has a couple of generations invested in American soil. This bicultural group is growing and must be taken more seriously in the workplace. Based on U.S. census in 2013 of college matriculation results, Hispanic graduation rates have increased 13 percent over the past decade.

Here again, I must ask the same question: If the diverse talent focus is on all ethnicities and women, then what is the reality for Hispanic leaders in corporate America? I am just perplexed at how slow companies react to population shifts to ensure equity in the workplace. But there seems to be little issue with targeting diverse consumers.
Below are the current statistics for Hispanic leadership in corporate America as reported by 2014 DMBA ILI (based on 300 U.S. companies with an average size of 30,000 employees):

• 1 percent of Fortune 500 companies have black CEOs in 2015. (Companies include American Express, Carnival, Xerox, Merck and Delphi Automotive, as reported by CNN and other major media outlets);

• 3 percent of C-level positions (that report to CEO) are held by Hispanic employees;

• 4 percent of executive vice president or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics;

• 6 percent of vice presidents or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics;

• 15 percent of directors or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics;

• 9 percent of middle managers or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics; and

• 9 percent of the employee base (all non-exempt; non part-time) is Hispanic

When you compare Hispanic talent to black talent there is a parity gap so the shift to increase the Hispanic talent pool is justified, but as long as women remain a separate initiative the broadening of the diversity gap will likely remain a reality.

Questions to think about: Should Hispanics view corporate America as the foundation for developing skills and relationships that will propel them to the next assignment, the next opportunity? Hispanic women are the one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial groups; is this a viable option for professionals to consider?

I believe, even with all of the hype around Hispanic talent acquisition, Hispanic leaders need to be clear where they stand in the BIG PICTURE of what companies are doing to diversify the leadership ranks. As the data above illustrates, sharing the pool with everyone else means it is inevitable that Hispanic talent continues to shrink. It’ s just something to think about.

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