It’s Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., and there’s a lot to celebrate. The Hispanic (or Latino, LatinX) communities continue to make cultural, political, and societal inroads; and in many ways are reshaping “American identity” as the fastest-growing minority in the U.S.
When we talk about the Hispanic population, we have to be mindful that we’re not talking about a monolithic group, but a diverse and dynamic population that is multiracial, multi-ethnic, and reflective of every other dimension of diversity that one could imagine. And their contributions, often taken for granted, have only enriched and strengthened our multicultural advantage on the world stage. But when it comes to equity in corporate America, we have to admit that progress hasn’t been fast enough, especially from the perspective of Hispanic workers and professionals.
Snapshot: Hispanics in Corporate America by the Numbers
To better understand the challenges facing Hispanics in business we have to look at the numbers, which do reflect some degree of advances, while also highlighting persistent barriers.
- While Hispanics make up 18 percent of the labor force, only about 11 percent are in management positions, according to a study by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)
- According to the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA), Hispanic CEOs only lead 20 Fortune 500 companies and hold only four percent (4%) of board seats
- Hispanic men earn .91 cents on the dollar compared to White Male peers with similar qualifications (slightly more than Black men who earn .87 cents on the dollar compared to White peers)
- Hispanic women fare worse despite educational gains, with just 1.6% of senior executives in the nation’s largest companies identifying as Hispanic or Latina
- According to data compiled by LeanIn.org, Hispanic women in the U.S. are paid 51% less than white men and 31% less than white women
- Of 92 companies in the S&P 100 reviewed by USA TODAY, 18 had no Latinas in senior executive positions
- The same USA Today report found Hispanic women are also underrepresented as managers (4.4%) and as professionals (3.2%)
And even more concerning are indications of a slight stagnation—even “regression” — Hispanic representation in corporate America. “The data shows an unfortunate regression in Hispanic inclusion measurement and outcomes during 2021 and over the past three years. We, therefore, renew our call to companies to partner with us to double down on Hispanic inclusion strategies with data-backed tools specific to our community,” said Cid Wilson, President, and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), one of the nation’s leading corporate advocacy organization, representing 14 national Hispanic organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico
Not All Doom and Gloom
Obviously, the numbers reflected above are bleak, but not without some indication that things have improved and will continue to do so as we lean into dialogue and action to drive greater degrees of diversity and inclusion for Hispanics and all other groups of under-represented people. There’s a greater awareness of these disparities as more companies and organizations confront the realities presented in the data.
Hispanics are also seeing an increase in college enrollment rates. As of 2018, that last year of available data, college enrollments for Hispanics rose four percentage points, from 32-36 percent, among youth aged 18-24, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. While the movement in education is indeed a positive indicator, it still shows a significant lag when compared to Asian and White enrollments at 59 and 42 percent, respectively.
Awareness and education are critical first steps in driving real change resulting in more inclusive C-Suites and board rooms. But we also need to focus more intensely on the current talent pools that go unnoticed, unappreciated, and “un-tapped when considering things like internal professional development and succession planning. The pipeline is indeed there, we just need to turn on the spigot.
There’s no question that the Hispanic influence societally is transforming the nation positively. For instance, we know that like previous waves of immigration that were transformative in nature (Irish, Italian, Asian, etc) the immigrants who came were highly invested in their nation contributing in ways too numerous to list. But most certainly in terms of their entrepreneurial tendencies.
For example, data from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative showed that Hispanic-owned business ownership rose by an impressive 34%; with an average revenue growth rate of 14 percent (14%), which outperformed the U.S. overall economic growth rate.
Clearly, we all need to consider ways to be more inclusive with all under-represented groups of well-qualified and talented individuals –not only in leadership but at every level–no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, or country of origin. To not do so isn’t only unfair, it’s downright wrong and bad for business.
What are your thoughts about the state of Hispanics in corporate America and business? Let us know by leaving a comment and joining the conversation.