Hispanic corporate directors: at the pinnacle of power.

Author:Schneider, Pablo
Position:BOARDS FEATURE 2016

Hispanic corporate directors are at the pinnacle of power in America. The topic of Hispanics serving on corporate boards is challenging and complex. Many questions arise. Why are there so few Hispanics on corporate boards? What can be done to increase the number? What are some examples of how Hispanics got on boards? Who are some of the Hispanics that have recently been appointed? If CEO's are the most sought after board candidates, how are Hispanic CEO's doing? Who are some of the top Hispanic corporate directors? What do they think?

Why is it important for Hispanics to serve on corporate boards? The boards of the Fortune 500 oversee companies with a combined total of $12 trillion in revenues, $840 billion in profits, $17 trillion in market cap, and 27.9 million employees worldwide. If there is a Hispanic voice on the board, our presence is tangible and we are included in the conversation. With no seat at the table, who will stand up for us?

The number of Hispanics on corporate boards is small and the trend is flat. One illustration comes from a report called "Mapping Incoming Boardroom Talent" by Heidrick & Struggles.

According to the report, in 2015 there were 399 board seats filled by independent directors out of the 4,698 total seats on Fortune 500 boards. Current and former CEO's and CFO's filled 73% of the seats, and 67% of new directors had international experience. The average age of the new independent directors was 58. The number of seats filled by Hispanics has remained flat for the past seven years. In 2015, of 399 seats filled, Hispanics accounted for 4% (16) vs. 4.8% (19) for Asian-Americans, 9.3% (37) for African-Americans, and 29.8% (119) for Females. Consistent with the small numbers in the aforementioned report, the Alliance For Board Diversity found that in 2012, Hispanics held 3.3% (151) of 4,575 Fortune 500 board seats.

Recently someone asked me, "What one thing would you do to increase Hispanic participation on corporate boards?" My immediate answer was, "Get more Hispanics into the corporate governance ecosystem." Getting more Hispanics into the corporate governance ecosystem means having more top Hispanic leaders across sectors, more Hispanics serving on all kinds of boards, more Hispanics with corporate governance and other highly sought-after skill sets, more Hispanics connected to Fortune 1000 board members, and more Hispanics who are Fortune 1000 board-ready candidates.

"Getting more Hispanics into the corporate...

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