Author:Arias, Victor, Jr.

Corporate boardrooms have seen a lot of changes in recent years. There's been a strong focus on boards taking responsibility for the larger corporate enterprise, including issues that may seem out of the board's control, such as the increasingly high-profile issue of social purpose.

It really shouldn't come as much of a surprise. This is in line with a focus on gender equity (heightened by the #MeToo movement), including more corporate board seats and more equitable compensation for female executives. There's also pressure from proxy advisors and institutional investors for more clarity on the diversity of boards, including very specific disclosures on ethnic makeup, continued board effectiveness/refreshment, and increasingly common discussions regarding ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues.

But for Latinos, the more things change, the more they .. don't.

Despite a bevy of new statistics that highlight the important contributions Latinos make to both the U.S. economy and society, there has been little to no improvement of notable representation by Latinos on America's corporate boards. A recent survey by Diversified Search (featuring comparisons from 2017 to mid-year 2019) of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies shows that the number of total seats in the Fortune 500 held by Latinos has remained largely flat, at 2.8%. ("Latinos" are defined as those that are U.S.-born, or self-identify as Latino if born in another country of origin.) The good news? The total number of board seats occupied by Latinx people has increased by 14% during that period. The bad news is that the figure has not kept pace with the commensurate increase in overall Fortune 500 seats. One bright spot: the number of Fortune 500 companies without any Latino directors has declined from 73% to 69%. But that's still a surprisingly large, and frankly distressing, number.

The Fortune 1000 representation numbers show some improvement in the overall increase of 32 net seats, or 2.7%, slightly lower than the Fortune 500 rate of 2.8%. The number of Fortune 1000 companies without a single Latino director has similarly dropped, from 799 to 769 companies.

While Latina directors increased from 79 to 86 in the Fortune 1000, the numbers still lag the impact of the overall growth rate of female directors on such boards. Women now represent about 24% of Fortune 1000 seats, a noticeable improvement in just a few years. Latinas represent less than 1% of corporate directors.


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