By Robert Reiss
As American companies focus on their growing success, perhaps one of the most powerful and widely accepted ways is for them to continue to expand on their achievements through building more diversity and inclusion efforts, especially at the executive and board levels. It’s not just the right thing to do, but research has proven to be effective in helping to enhance revenue, recruiting, innovation and reputation. However, findings from a recent study by the Alliance for Board Diversity show that in 2016 less than 15% of Fortune 500 board seats were held by minorities.
One of the fastest growing segments in the workplace is the Latino U.S. workforce, which has grown significantly from 10.7 million in 1990 to 26.8 million in 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, only 3.5% of Fortune 500 board seats were held by Latinos in 2016. In fact, 2010 data from the Alliance for Board Diversity suggests that these figures represent a meager .5% increase in the representation for Hispanic board members between 2010 and 2016.
As there are currently only 11 Fortune 500 Latino CEOs, I thought it would be of value to gain insights from key Latino executives on building exceptional businesses and on fostering growth of Latino executives. The CEOs interviewed are:
– Pedro J. Pizarro, President and CEO, Edison International
– Geisha Williams, President and CEO, PG&E
– Cid Wilson, President and CEO, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s (HACR)
Robert Reiss: What is your philosophy for building an exceptional business in today’s world?
Geisha Williams: One of the biggest keys is creating a workplace where every employee feels comfortable speaking up and where leaders listen and follow up. Organizations that can achieve this transparent, engaging environment are better able to challenge old ways of doing business. They’re able to quickly call out risk areas and find solutions. And they’re better positioned to identify and pursue opportunities to grow and succeed.
Pedro J. Pizarro: My philosophy for building an exceptional business is simple: Hire, retain and promote exceptional people, and create an environment where every team member feels like an owner. Our team must have a sense of purpose, be free to innovate, and feel energized by our mission. Equally important is fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. Diversity of backgrounds creates diversity of thought, and I encourage my team at every level to bring that to bear on the issues we face, even when that means disagreeing with me. That give-and-take process yields the insights needed to successfully navigate constant change, and flattens the hierarchies that can hold companies back.
Cid Wilson: My philosophy on building an exceptional institution starts with a compelling purpose-driven mission. Working with our board of directors and a dedicated staff of leaders, we are relentlessly pursuing our mission of advancing Hispanic inclusion in Corporate America. Secondly, you have to master the art of anticipated change. What worked in the past may not work tomorrow. When change is on the horizon, exceptional institutions adapt while others fall behind. Thirdly, having a strong reputation and credibility of being best-in-class in executing your mission will differentiate your institution and stand out from the rest. Lastly, exceptional institutions plan to achieve and dare to exceed so that they see great results and outcomes. I believe in the time-honored principle that when you “under-promise and over-deliver,” your business or institution will create exceptional value and solidify your external credibility.
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