WHEN YOU LOOK at the faces of the C-level executives that dominate the American corporate landscape, it's easy to notice a trend: Caucasian faces abound, and people of color are a rare find amidst the pale. Andre Arbelaez is fighting to change this by making C-suites across the nation more reflective of the diverse, vibrant communities they serve. He founded the Hispanic C-Suite Corporate Council, or HC3, in 2018 as part of an effort to increase the number of successful Hispanic executives in both public and private companies, a move that he believes is good not only for the Latino community, but also the entire corporate ecosystem.
Arbelaez has dedicated his career to empowering Latinos to lead and to represent their community at every level of business. He believes in the power of the united Latino community, according to Arbelaez, it's time "to knock down doors to communicate the strength of the values we have," adding, "We have been very patient and very nice, but we need to be more assertive in positioning our executives in corporate America to reflect their customer base. It's as simple as that." That's Arbelaez's ultimate goal with HC3; to build a world where C-suites across the nation look more like the customers they serve.
The idea of the American Dream is important to Arbelaez, who was born in Detroit, MI to Colombian parents and spent his entire life in Motor City, save only for the five years he spent in Bogota, Colombia during his early childhood. "We came to the United States with a 'work hard and live the American Dream' mentality," he says. "It was an opportunity for my parents to seek a better life and to move faster along the economic ladder." His father worked as a computer programmer in the US, while his mother started a language education and translation company. His parents' example taught him that, by "working hard and doing things the right way", he could achieve more, not just for himself, but for others as well. "That mindset kind of created a discipline, a philosophy, of always trying to help others as you're succeeding, and it is a mindset that I've always had," he says. It's this mindset that propels Arbelaez's entire mission, and his passion is evident when he talks about it.
His cultural awareness and diversity helped him as his career grew, often in unexpected ways. "I'm always thankful to my mother, who forced me to speak Spanish in the home, because that allowed me to get my first tech job--being assigned...