LatinaLista -- The news released this week by the U.S. Census that Latinos now stand at 50.5 million in the United States foreshadows the nation's future.
Latinos are well on our way to becoming a majority in the country. Yet, the population still has a long way to go to receive the kind of education, guidance and opportunities to propel today's young people into the kinds of leadership positions essential to the success of the nation and the Latino community.
Manny Espinoza, CEO of ALPFA, an organization that helps advance Latino leadership opportunities, shares his views on what the nation and the Latino community need to do to build a pipeline that doesn't just generate Latino leaders but supports, nurtures and commits to their success for the long run.
Manny Espinoza, CEO of ALPFA
As the Census releases statistics on the Latino population, certain outcomes were anticipated. One is a rise in population growth that has outpaced what many experts have predicted with 28 states to date reporting higher numbers than estimated for the Census.
Another, is that Latinos are still inadequately represented in the professional workforce, yet make up the largest talent pool.
What this brings to light is that the future workforce of the next two decades is being developed today, and that Hispanic youth will make up the largest talent pool available to Corporate America.
To effectively build the rise in the Latino population into the leaders of the future, education comes first. This past February, a coalition of partners including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and Univision, set out to increase efforts aimed at helping more Hispanic youth graduate from high school and subsequently, pursue a college degree.
But that is not where the solution ends. Once in school, there needs to be access to support systems, role models and direction that can help decide the professional future of these students.
And even as we educate Latinos on the importance of a college education, and work to provide more resources at that level, once in the workforce, Latinos are still lagging when it comes to leadership roles.
In many cases, Hispanics who graduate from college are still the first generation to earn a degree in their family circles. Many will go on job searches without the advantage of knowing how to make the most of their talent or finding the right corporate fit --something even more difficult in the current economy.
In flipping through the January issue of Hispanic Business and being involved in an organization committed to building Latino business leaders, we know the impact Latino professionals can have in enriching a company's culture, improving an understanding of diversity, and creating innovative ways to help companies connect with consumers, attract talent and better understand the communities they serve.
Late last year, the Pew Hispanic Center unveiled results from a survey that indicated Latinos in the U.S. do not think they have a national leader - this, despite the accomplishments of individuals including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Secretary Hilda Solis, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Governor Susana Martinez, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, or even entertainment moguls Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek.
We recognize success, but there is a difference between success and being recognized as an individual that is a leader. When it comes to the business community, we need to be sure that more Latinos are aware of the leaders driving strategy at the executive office today, but also, that more are needed.
ALPFA, an organization focused on building Latino leaders, has a long-standing commitment to ensuring comprehensive access to the dynamics, resources and support that foster leadership among Latinos -- from college and graduate students, to professionals to executives. It is about creating the right connectivity paths so that at every step of professional growth, our members know that we can offer the relationships, access to development opportunities and business edge that will help them realize their full potential.
Latino participation in Fortune 500 boards has inched up according to the most recent information from the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, but at 3% it remains low and not representative of the population's reach.
Together with the brightest minds in the business, we can change that.
Our goal is that when it is time to renew leadership at C-suites across America, more Latino candidates can be considered for the job based on the accomplishments, savvy, and talent they have been able to cultivate throughout their careers.
We need to be committed as a community to offer guidance at all levels, so that collectively we can move up the pipeline of success.
Manny Espinoza is the CEO of ALPFA, the first national Latino professional association created in the United States in1972. ALPFA provides members the foundation to advance Latino leadership through access to opportunities and the individuals that can impact them throughout their careers.
Today, with 15,000 members, including CEOs, CFOs and board members, through 39 professional chapters and 80 student chapters in campuses around the nation, the organization has the largest member base and footprint among professional associations for Latinos.