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Strategies for Strengthening the Latino Talent Pipeline in Executive and Board Roles

The Latino demographic continues to grow (it is expected to reach between 28% and 33% of the U.S. population by 2060); however, the corporate world has yet to reflect this diversity in its leadership tiers, particularly in executive and board roles. Despite the generous availability of talented Latino professionals, they remain underrepresented in the C-suite, boardroom, and executive leadership roles. This fact emphasizes the significant opportunity corporate America must seize to enhance its diversity initiatives.

Understanding the Gap

The challenge of integrating Latino talent into leadership roles often stems from a homogenous perception of what Latino talent looks like and where it can be found. For example, one such perception might be that Latino professionals excel in roles requiring interpersonal skills or “people management” rather than strategic or analytical positions (Coqual). This “pigeonholing” approach can prevent organizations from recognizing the full scope of capabilities Latinos bring to high-level decision-making or technical roles. This demographic is the most racially and ethnically diverse in the U.S., encompassing over thirty-three nationalities, each with unique experiences and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, any stereotyped ideas about “Latino” leaders are prime examples of the hasty generalization fallacy.

Economic and Cultural Importance

Strengthening the Latino pipeline in executive and board roles isn’t only something to mark off a diversity checklist; it’s a strategic economic decision for many reasons, perhaps most notable of which is that in 2018, the U.S. Latino GDP was $2.6 trillion, making it larger than the GDP of many countries. Companies that leverage this demographic not only do right by their corporate diversity policies but also tap into a significant economic force. Recognizing Latinos’ power and abilities, companies like AT&T have made strides in integrating them into their workforce, mindfully including them across their organization’s various levels including senior executive roles (AT&T).

Strategic Approaches to Strengthening Latino Leadership

  1. Thorough Understanding of Talent Pipelines: Organizations need to develop a deep understanding of the Latino talent already present within their structures, which involves tracking demographic data and identifying at what stages potential Latino leaders are losing ground in their career progression (LCA). Addressing these gaps early and maintaining visibility throughout the career lifecycle can prevent the loss of talent and build a strong pathway to leadership roles.
  2. Assessing Potential beyond Experience: Traditional ways of evaluating leadership potential may miss Latino professionals’ unique strengths and cultural insights. By valuing potential and not merely prioritizing experience, companies can broaden leadership opportunities to more candidates, who will introduce fresh ideas and originality into key strategic roles. Administering comprehensive leadership assessments is one effective way to broaden leadership opportunities. These assessments can pinpoint candidates’ innate strengths and areas where they can focus for improvement.
  3. Tailored Development Programs: To support Latino employees’ professional growth, companies should design programs tailored to their unique cultural and professional needs (Latino Leadership). Such programs could incorporate mentorship, sponsorship, and leadership training that resonate with Latino professionals’ cultural identities and support their career ambitions. When companies develop resources that reflect their employees’ unique backgrounds, they create an attractive environment that lifts morale, encourages employee involvement, and eases the pathway to leadership roles. This approach supports each team member’s personal and professional development and enriches the organizational culture with various perspectives and ideas.
  4. Inclusive Corporate Culture: Building an inclusive culture that genuinely respects and values diversity is critical to any business’s success. This effort includes having open dialogues about diversity, equity, and inclusion and integrating these principles into the company’s core values and everyday practices. Says Sheree Atcheson, author of Demanding More: Why Diversity and Inclusion Don’t Happen and What You Can Do About It, “An inclusive organization is two times as likely to exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be agile and innovative, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.” See her tips for creating a genuinely inclusive culture here.
  5. Engagement and Representation in Decision-Making: Latino professionals should be included in decision-making processes. They should not be given token roles but placed in meaningful positions that impact corporate strategies. This inclusion enriches the decision-making process with varied perspectives and signals to younger employees that the leadership pathway is accessible to them.

Integrating Latino professionals into executive and board roles in corporate America will be a driving factor in propelling innovation, cultural competence, and competitive edge. By actively developing and incorporating strategies that recognize and harness the Latino community’s unique talents, companies will better reflect the demographic realities of their consumer base (and society at large), strengthening the talent pipeline and supporting a sustainable business model that thrives on diversity and inclusivity and turns the tide on underrepresentation.

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

President & CEO of Barbachano International

Barbachano International (BIP) is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas with a focus on diversity & multicultural target markets.  Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have impacted the profitability of over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies.  BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #10 and #3 on the West Coast. 


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