This week the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) put the spotlight on something we often sweep under the rug. Something almost taboo to address in public.
The Hispanic inclusion in corporate and institutional boards of directors is shameful. Especially in view of our population growth, the many qualified professionals among us, as well as the business men and women from the Hispanic community who could serve.
In the so-called Fortune 1000 companies in America just over 100 of them have Hispanic representation, according to HACR, and the number has declined during the past 10 years — despite demographic growth, the extra preparation of our leaders, and 20 years of advocacy on that issue by HACR.
The organization, at its annual symposium in Chicago this week, screened a documentary, “The Insider’s Game,” which dealt with the serious issue of exclusion of Hispanics from the very bodies where crucial decisions, affecting all of us, are made.
Take, for example, Philadelphia — a city where the Hispanic representation on the most prominent boards of the city is reduced to a handful of individuals, very often the same ones who have been rotating in and out of the seats we’ve been given access to for the past 10 or 15 years.
Though the ranks of our young professionals is swelling, the tide of new Latinos being called to serve on private, public or government boards across the city is in stasis.
We don’t believe the failure is entirely the result of deliberate exclusion, but also due to the lack of agency within our community, where too few strive to gain more seats in those councils of power in the city.
Nelson Díaz, an extraordinary case, is one of the few Latinos from Philadelphia to hold a seat on the board a Fortune 1000 company (EXELON, owner of PECO).
The great majority of the politically connected boards in our region remain empty of Hispanic representation, a loss to a city that is increasingly becoming Hispanic, and, therefore, in growing need of better understanding this segment of the population that has fueled rebirth and growth in our Philadelphia neighborhoods.
The time has arrived for our political representatives to address, in a public and open manner, the issue of lack of Latino representation on the boards of the city.
That way it’ll cease to be “an insiders game” and we’ll give opportunity to the best and the brightest to surface and connect with institutions in urgent need of their insights and contributions.