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Boardrooms without Latino executives? 2021 shows the work ahead in California and beyond

“Last year there was a good trend,” says Esther Aguilera, President and CEO of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA), referring to the appointments of Latino executives in boardrooms. “But compared to other groups, we are still behind.” 

Between July 1 to Dec. 31 of 2020, 607 new board appointments were made by California public companies, according to the recently released LCDA’s Q4 2020 California Boardroom Equity Scorecard. 

Latinos only gained 14 of those 607 board seats. 

The large majority of seats (434) went to the White/Caucasian directors, 74 seats went to Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 73 seats went to Black/African American directors.

Aguilera says the number of appointments has “doubled” primarily due to the AB 979 bill signed in September 2020. 

The bill requires California-based publicly held corporations to have at least one executive from an underrepresented community on their boards by Dec. 31, 2021. 

“It’s still early” to evaluate the bill’s outreach, says Aguilera, “but it will definitely have an impact. Companies are required to hire more Latino talent, and they’re looking for it.”

There are 703 public held companies in California. 84.6% of their boards lack a Latino/a director, as stated in the report. 

Aguilera says that, at the end of last year, LCDA sent 640 letters to every company in California that does not have a Latino or a Latina in their boardroom. So far, she says, they have gotten 30 responses. 

The second batch of letters was sent in February. LCDA’s next step is actively following up with the companies. 

“In May, we are also going to write letters broadening our reach from California to national, and we are writing more letters to Fortune 100 companies that do not have Latinos,” adds Aguilera.  

Part of the plan is also embarking on a visibility campaign to keep showcasing Latino executives talent.

One common excuse from companies is that there are not enough Latino executives. 

“The media has portrayed our community more as immigrants rather than corporate executives and CEOs,” states Aguilera, “so we need to change that perception.” 

She adds that this is not only the media’s responsibility, but also something that industry associations, chambers of commerce, and the business community need to do. 

“It could be by getting out (news of appointments and accomplishments) in their newsletters and on business outlets where CEOs and directors usually read things,” says Aguilera.

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