hispanic workforce
The state of California passed the law in 2018, and companies have tried to follow the state mandate by adding at least one woman to their boards. (Photo by: Shutterstock/AshTproductions)

Despite Growing Hispanic Workforce and Language, California’s New Law Leaves Latina Women Behind

California lawmakers passed a law requiring all public companies based in the state to have at least one female director by the end of 2019. Latina women are still being left behind in representation, despite the number of Hispanics in the civilian U.S. workforce more than doubling from 10.7 million to 25.4 million workers between 1990 and 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state of California passed the law in 2018, and companies have tried to follow the state mandate by adding at least one woman to their boards. But Latina directors were appointed to only 3.3% of new board seats over the last 17 months, according to an analysis released Monday by the Latino Corporate Directors Association. Seventy-eight percent of them were white women.

Since 2018, 511 women were added to the boards of public companies but only 17 of them were Latina women. White women gained 398 seats, Asian women gained 59 seats and Black women picked up 27 seats, Latino Corporate Directors found.

Related Article: Sanofi Featured in Wall Street Journal Piece, Gives Perspective on Women in the C-Suite

The number of women required on public boards will continue to rise in California to three in 2021.  

The number of Hispanic and Latinx people in the United States has grown — and is continuing to grow — quickly. By 2060, Hispanics are projected to make up about 50% of just California’s population. Right now, they are at about 39%.

But on the California boards, only 3.3% of the women are Latinas.

“When you’re sitting in a boardroom, sometimes they’ll say, ‘We need to have some minorities,’ but sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanics, and when they say women, sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanic,” Maria Contreras-Sweet, a director at Sempra Energy and Regional Management Corp. and former head of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, told Bloomberg News. “It has to be intentional because it’s easy to still make diversity goals and leave Latinas out.”

Making specific hiring goals is a crucial aspect of increasing diversity across all genders and races.

Wells Fargo (No. 13 on 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) set a 10-year goal to increase the number of Hispanic home mortgage consultants on its sales team. According to Latino Leaders Magazine, Wells Fargo’s Latin Connection Team Member Network has more than 40 chapters throughout the country and has an innovational group mentoring program for 35 mid-level team members called the Emerging Leaders League.

AT&T (No. 1 on 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) also makes a pointed effort to hire and promote Hispanic and Latinx employees. Latinx people make up 15% of their workforce — that’s over 32,000 employees across the U.S. The company has also been active in increasing Hispanic and Latinx representation in their corporate sphere. AT&T was included in the 2019 Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility’s 2019 Corporate Inclusion Index with a 5-star rating.

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