Many organizations and companies have prioritized workplace equality in recent years but there's still work to be done on boardroom diversity, according to former United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz.
“You have [to take] physical action…You just can't wait for it to pop up to be perfect," Munoz told Yahoo Finance at this week’s L’Attitude Conference. "You might have to take a little bit of a chance."
Data from the Latino Corporate Directors Association shows that Latinos make up 19% of the U.S. population — the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S. — at over 62 million, accounting for over half of the country’s demographic growth in the past decade, while the gross domestic product (GDP) of Latinos grew by 57%, faster than the general U.S. economy.
However, they held 4.1% of Fortune 500 board seats in 2020 — a stark contrast to white individuals who held 82.5% of those seats. (Black Americans held 8.7% and Asians held 4.6%.)
The figures are even worse when broken down by gender. Latinas made up just 1% of board seats in Fortune 500 companies in 2020, the report showed.
“Words alone don't work," Munoz said. "A concept or a plan to do it in the future doesn't work. You have to actually be physically actionable about this."
Representation of Latinos on Fortune 500 company boards grew by only 1.1 % between 2010 and 2020.
There have been some signs of improvement for Latinos on Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 company boards, though. Within the last two years, Fortune 500 companies’ Latino board representation increased at a rate comparable to the previous decade, rising from 3.7% to 4.4%. Latino representation on Fortune 1000 company boards increased by nearly one percentage point, from 3.2% to 4.1%.
This week, Nike announced Monica Gil, chief administrative and marketing officer of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, would join its board.
While corporations still have a long ways to go, Munoz explained that during his time as CEO of United Airlines, he used his position to try to elevate his fellow Latinos into leadership roles and encouraged others to do the same.
"[I] made a conscious effort to pick someone who maybe was in a different role in a different position with different background and took a chance, for lack of a better term, which wasn't much of a chance because they're very capable employees, and put these folks in a more senior role and possibly a different function and watched them impact and lead," he said.
Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv