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Hispanic Heritage Month: Perspectives from Two Leaders

Hispanic professionals comprise more than 18% of the workforce and more than 19% of the U.S. population. Despite this, they only account for just 4% of senior executives at major U.S. companies.

 

The Hispanic population and workforce presence also represent a rapidly expanding demographic in the U.S.—making it more critical than ever to understand this community’s diverse cultures, ideas, and contributions.

 

At Blue Rock Search, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are core to our philosophy, strength, and competitive edge. We believe embracing a mosaic of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills unlocks invaluable opportunities for collective learning and growth. Diverse perspectives enable organizations to make well-informed, effective, and deeply nuanced decisions, reflecting a broader understanding of a decision’s multifaceted impact. With diversity, equity, and inclusion as focal points for an organization’s culture, we elevate each other, fortifying our collective ability to innovate, adapt, and excel.

 

September 15th to October 15th is designated as Hispanic Heritage Month. To better understand how today’s professionals view the Hispanic experience in the workforce, we went straight to the source: two leaders who are on the front lines of building a more inclusive world. These leaders tackle the challenges facing organizations and individuals daily, and their thoughtful insights offer wisdom in Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond.

 

 

Raquel Tamez, Charles River Associates

Raquel Tamez is the Chief Inclusion and Engagement Officer at Charles River Associates (CRA), a publicly traded global consulting firm. In her capacity as CIEO– a position new to the firm– she plays an integral role in its DEI strategy, launching initiatives and designing programs that empower CRA’s team members and strengthen its culture, allowing the firm to better serve its clients and communities. Before joining CRA, she served as Chief Executive Officer for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), a national organization focused on empowering the Hispanic community to achieve its full potential in science, technology, engineering, and math. During her four years with SHPE, she expanded the organization’s programs and services, increased its corporate partnerships as well as its membership to more than 13,000 across 280+ national chapters, and helped create new avenues for outreach and engagement.

 

For Tamez, Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight the contributions, accomplishments, individuals, and organizations born out of the Hispanic community and a time to address ongoing, persistent challenges.

 

It’s an opportunity to bring awareness, to educate and advocate, and to connect with allies in support of more diversity and inclusion – of Hispanics in all roles, across all sectors and industries at all levels. It’s important to me as a Latina, and certainly in my diversity equity inclusion officer role. It’s my day job and part of who I am every day. But Hispanic Heritage Month is a prime-time opportunity to bring it all together, to celebrate, and most importantly to take action – together – as a collective community,” she said.

 

Like many Hispanic professionals, Tamez feels a strong and positive connection to her “Latinidad” and views it as a true asset in the workplace.

 

“I’d like to think it’s one of my superpowers,” she says. “There are certain values that help distinguish Hispanics. I certainly hold these near and dear to my heart: integrity, work ethic, resourcefulness, and resiliency. These values were instilled in me early on. I am the daughter of immigrants. My father was a migrant farm worker. I grew up in a poor, tough neighborhood in Houston, Texas. But we persevered – together as a family. My circumstances and my values helped me to identify at a young age that education was going to be the equalizer and would help empower me to do better for myself and my family These values are part of who I am as a Latina. They are in my DNA. And no doubt, they have been instrumental – integral – vital to my success as a professional, a leader, and an executive in the C-suite.”

 

Her perspective aligns with many other Hispanic professionals’ priorities: community, hard work, independence, and more. One study on Latinos in the workforce found the following:

  • 89% of Latinos aspire to have a family and rewarding long-term personal relationships, and they want to help their children be successful, help their spouse/partner be successful, or help their extended family be successful in their lifetime.
  • 86% of Latinos aspire to provide for their families, be financially independent, or accumulate significant wealth in their lifetimes.
  • 84% of Latinos say they aspire to be healthy in their lifetimes – and over half will turn down promotions if they think it would negatively impact their well-being.

What’s next? Tamez sees inroads in increasing diversity of representation for Hispanics at the executive and board levels. However, much work remains—particularly with the negative repercussions of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action in higher education and its ripple effects on corporations.

 

Tamez said, “I think it’s really a matter of doubling down and staying the course and being relentless. It’s also about opening the aperture of how we are defining diversity. We need to diversify diversity. And we need to make diversity more inclusive and equitable.”

 

Cid Wilson, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility

Cid Wilson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to advancing Hispanic inclusion in corporate America. He began his career on Wall Street, working his way up from the mail room of an investment firm to become a Forbes number one ranked Wall Street Equity financial analyst in the country in his field. A proud Dominican American born in Washington Heights and growing up in New Jersey, he is the first Afro-Latino CEO of any national Hispanic organization. With Wilson at the helm, HACR is an organization that’s at the table at the forefront, working with over 120 Fortune 500 partners and gaining global recognition, but also with that voice of declaration that corporate America must do more to advance Hispanic inclusion at their companies and throughout corporate America.

 

“Hispanic Heritage Month is not just for Hispanics – it’s for everyone to understand who we are, the diversity of our community, and everything that makes us proud to be Hispanics and Latinos,” Wilson says. “It’s high time to illuminate and celebrate and to think about everything that makes our community not just a strong society but also an economic powerhouse.”

 

As Wilson points out, though, these accomplishments – and challenges – do not vanish on October 16th every year. In his view, part of celebrating this month is building momentum for the rest of the year—particularly when addressing the wide range of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives within the Hispanic community itself.

 

“It’s important to understand the diversity of our communities, but it’s also essential to know where our challenges are and where we can have those dialogues about the challenges facing our communities. We’re also talking about how we can bring everyone to the table to discuss areas of solutions that we can address and how we can be a solution to some of the most significant challenges that are taking place within our community, not just societally but also economically.

 

Wilson also highlights how the state of Hispanic/Latino representation still needs serious attention.

 

“When we talk about the economic power of Hispanics and Latinos in the US, we make the case that we are similar in scope to a G20 county. Yet, despite that, only roughly about 5% of all Fortune 500 board seats are held by Latinos. Only about 1% are held by Latinas. And when you look at the C-Suite, the numbers are not that different. This results from a pipeline challenge in corporate America, in which Latinos are not sponsored into these key roles.”

 

The solution? Addressing the problem at multiple levels. Wilson notes that “credibility” at these high levels is “a function of a very old-fashioned, often a white male paradigm.” The result is that, even when diverse candidates are considered, this paradigm leads to only “assimilated” candidates being perceived as credible for board seats and other leadership roles. HACR is working to change that.

 

“Our position is that the solution is acculturation, not assimilation. Corporate America needs to acculturate to the growing Hispanic community, not ask us to assimilate to a 150-year-old model that doesn’t work for a growing multicultural society. Once we address that, then we can address the pipeline into the C-suite, then we can address how to increase the number of Latinos and Latinos on corporate boards, and so on.”

 

Last Thoughts

Hispanic Heritage Month is not just a time for celebration—it’s a time to recognize that a better future must be actively shaped. Now, more than ever, we must champion diversity and open our minds to a wealth of different perspectives. Doing so does not merely enrich our communities; it strengthens them, paving the way for enduring success. Let this month serve as a vivid reminder: creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive professional landscape is not a solitary endeavor. It is a collective responsibility.

 

So, let us seize this opportunity to actively foster a workspace where everyone has an equal shot at success—where talent knows no bounds and the doors of opportunity swing wide open for all.

 

By Ruben Moreno

 

About the Author

After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.”  Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR and Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.

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