Xavier Gutierrez has been a board member for a number of companies and over the years he's watched the board seats slowly fill with more diverse faces and backgrounds, and he's hoping that's a trend that continues.
"Fundamentally, it's important because it brings different perspectives in the decision-making process," he said. "Beyond just gender, racial and ethnic diversity, it's also people from different walks of life. It brings a very, very invaluable resource to the table."
Gutierrez is the Managing Director for the Clearlake Capital Group in Santa Monica. He's also on the Commercial Bank of California Board of Directors among other boards. His experience in the boardroom spans from working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to serving as a board of director with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"I feel that a lot of decision making and influence does happen in the corporate boardroom," he said. "I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue."
And the best way to make an impact, he said, is to have more diverse voices on the board.
"I have a personal passion for the fact that we need to have more Latinos really engage in the conversations that go on in the financial services," Gutierrez said, adding that Latinos can make an influence at this "highest level."
It's been a slow process to fill in board seats with diversity. Most members are recommended for the post by other board members, but that may be changing. According to a survey by PwC, 87 percent of board member recommendations in 2016 came from current board members, down from 2012's 91 percent. Recommendations from investors jumped to 18 percent in 2016 from 11 percent and recommendations from public databases hiked to 11 percent from 4 percent.
"There's still a long way to go," Gutierrez said. "Corporate boards still aren't where they need to be in terms of reflecting the customer and the market in which (the company) is targeting."
More companies, however, are seeing the benefits of adding different backgrounds to their voting boards.
"I do think that boards and chairmans and nominating committees are starting to see that," he said. "You are starting to see the issue of diversity and...