Hispanic C-Suite Executives Remain Few and Far Between at America’s Largest Companies

This week, we wanted to recognize the birthdays of two revered Hispanic activists, both of which are on the horizon. If he were still alive, Cesar Chavez, co-founder of what is now the United Farm Workers, would be turning 96 on March 31; while UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta turns 93 on April 10. Both were remarkable activists, who advocated not only for the rights of the West Coast’s largely Hispanic farm workers, but for disenfranchised people from many other walks of life. 
Chavez is widely known for the two 25-day fasts he endured to bring attention to the plight of California and Arizona’s grape pickers, who lacked many of the basic protections and benefits that were afforded to other American workers. Huerta, who coined the UFW’s enduring rallying call “si se puede,” (yes, it can be done), similarly fought for Hispanic farm workers – securing them with disability insurance, aid for dependent families, and the right to collectively bargain with growers.
Together, their efforts became known as la causa (the cause), a movement that grew to include the wider aspirations of Mexican Americans in the 1960s and 70s. While it’s impossible to calculate Chavez and Huerta’s effect on modern-day Hispanic and Latino workers (an extremely diverse group), it seems fair to say that their ideals may have informed, and possibly inspired, some of the Hispanic executives in corporate America today. 

With that in mind, we combed through our data to uncover the S&P 500’s small, but growing group of Hispanic and Latino CEOs, CFOs, and CLO/GCs.  

  • In the 2010s, more than half of the country’s population growth came from Hispanic and Latino immigrants. In 2020, their numbers reached 62 million, or 18.7 percent of the entire U.S. population.

  • The challenges Hispanic and Latino executives face are well documented. One recent IBM survey does a good job of piecing together the struggles, and possible solutions. Among the statistics – only 30 percent of junior managers have access to mentoring programs, and only 20 percent feel empowered to overcome professional challenges, while more than two-thirds believe they need to work harder than other colleagues because of their identity.   

  • Interestingly, IBM’s analysis also delves into the incongruence between the Hispanic population’s economic power, and their anemic representation in executive positions. The most powerful fact here – if the amount Hispanic Americans spend every year was compared to the GDP of other nations, Hispanic Americans would be the eight largest economy in the world.    

  • Despite being such a force, our data shows a dearth of Hispanic CEOs, CFOs and chief legal officers/GCs. Specifically, only 3.2 percent of S&P 500 CEOs identify as being Hispanic or Latino, while only 1.6 percent of CFOs, and 2.4 percent of chief legal officers and general counsels do so. 

  • Of the 19 Hispanic CEOs in the S&P 500, only two have more than two decades in their position – Camden Property Trust’s Richard J. Campo (1993), and MSCI’s Henry A. Fernandez (1998). 

  • On the other end of the spectrum, ten Hispanic CEOs have assumed their roles in the past five years. The newest CEOs in this group are Johnson & Johnson’s Joaquin Duato, Dominion Energy’s Joseph Dominguez, and Darden Restaurants’ Ricardo Cardenas, who took the helm of their companies last year, and Everest Re’s Juan C. Andrade and Ingersoll Rand’s Vicente Reynal, who did so in 2020.

  • There are only eight Hispanic CFOs in the S&P 500, but progress can be seen via the four that assumed their position in 2022. The members of this group of newly minted Hispanic CFOs are Kraft Heinz’ Andre Maciel, Lockheed Martin’s Jesus Malave Jr., Kimberly-Clark’s Nelson Urdaneta, and Charles River Laboratories’ Flavia H. Pease. 

  • The numbers are similarly thin for chief legal officer/general counsel, as only 12 Hispanic executives hold that title. Worth noting, six of these top legal officers are women, specifically the CLO/GCs at Molson Coors, Ulta Beauty, DTE Energy, Incyte, Microchip Technology, and Dover Corp. 

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