Thoughts on the 2009 HACR Inclusion Report

Today the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) released findings of its 2009 Corporate Inclusion Index. As expected, the findings are not positive. Aside from the survey’s conclusion that Hispanic Americans are vastly misrepresented on corporate boards despite accounting for 15% of the U.S. population, there’s this astonishing statement:

Over 70% of Fortune 100 companies did not participate in the survey — and in some cases declined to respond. Yet, nearly 80% of HACR’s current corporate member companies responded. This is significant because it validates HACR’s belief that companies that engage with us are serious about Hispanic inclusion and value its benefits to their “bottom line” and shareholder value.

It’s hard to believe that this is the case when so many of these same organizations tout the importance of diversity and reaching out to under-represented groups. As more and more Hispanic Americans enter the workforce, and more organizations are engaged in supporting the Hispanic talent pipeline, the fact that so many well known organizations refused to participate in this survey is astounding. Hispanics, women and other minorities often feel that attaining similar qualifications, education, and experience still does not make them as successful as their non-minority counterparts; this perceived discrepancy creates a sense of social and organization isolationism. Research consistently demonstrates that minorities perceive unequal access to promotion and leadership opportunities in organizations; the absence of Hispanic representation at the higher levels of organizations cast doubt on an organization’s commitment to diversity.

Despite being the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, Hispanics have been historically underrepresented on corporate boards and managerial occupations. Traditionally, it is these levels of leadership which provide new professionals a career support system. Hispanics and other minorities have the most to gain from this opportunity; once formed Hispanics are known to maintain these networks. Having these social ties increases the chances minorities will acquire a mentor to help support and manage their career related decisions. A broad network also enhances professional opportunity. The lack of transparency by some of these organizations in this regard is certainly disappointing.