Latino Leaders: In your experience, what are the main factors that are considered when recruiting a Latino/a Board Director?
Gerry Lopez: Qualifications trump all. To pretend otherwise is a fool's errand. Being Latino is clearly a powerful factor and I've served on more than one Board where I was the first Latino ever. But just to be clear, without the HBS education, the C-Suite positions, the job experiences, the personal network and reputation, the opportunities to serve on Boards wouldn't have materialized. Boards are not large groups, and everyone needs to hold up their end of the bargain. There are no "throw-away" seats on Boards. Everyone has to contribute. And one has to be qualified.
LL: What needs to be done to make Boards more diverse and inclusive?
GL: We need to keep pushing. We need to keep agitating. We need to keep asking embarrassing questions. We need to point out the gaping holes; shine a bright light on those. We need to keep removing excuses. My favorite is, of course, 'We can't find qualified Latinos.' What a bad joke. That said, I'm not a believer in laws, regulations or quotas. There are enough of those.
LL: What should Latino Directors do once they're part of a Board, to open doors for others, without risking their reputation or crossing lines?
GL: I don't get the connection between recommending other Latinos and risking my reputation. That makes no sense. I'm not going...