In California, Latino boardroom representation lags -study

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FILE PHOTO: A view of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

By Ross Kerber

BOSTON (Reuters) – California companies added Latino directors at the slowest pace among U.S. minority groups, a new study found, ahead of a year-end state deadline mandating more boardroom diversity.

Although many companies pledged a new effort to diversify their workforces and leadership after last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, the new figures show little has changed in some quarters.

Among the roughly 1,443 new directors added to public company boards in California during the 12 months ended June 30, just 49 of them, or 3.5%, were Latino or Hispanic, the review found.

By contrast, 10% of new directors were Black or African-American, and 18% were Asian, according to the study. It found 83% of the state’s public company boards had no Latino or Hispanic directors.

“We’ve been overlooked,” said Kathy Munoz, a vice-president at the Latino Corporate Directors Association, which authored the study using data from researcher Equilar Inc. “We’re not getting the visibility that other communities are getting.”

The association’s vice-president for research, Ozzie Gromada Meza, and various Latino business leaders blame outdated executive recruiting efforts and insular social and professional networks for the gap in representation.

Boardroom diversity is closely watched in California, the most populous state and the headquarters of many top technology and entertainment companies.

As of June 30 Latinos held just 2.5% of board seats in the state overall, the study found. New Census data shows Latinos and Hispanics made up 39.4% of California’s population and are the largest ethnic group.

A recent state law required companies to have at least one woman on their boards, and women now hold 28% of the 5,831 total directorships at public companies based there.

A similar law now requires California companies by the end of 2021 to have at least one director from an “underrepresented community” including people who self-identify as Black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian or LGBT.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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