Despite national and regional organizations’ efforts, the continued lack of inclusion of Latinos in general –and Latinas in particular– in key corporate leading positions continues to be a matter of concern. According to the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) annual report, Hispanic inclusion on Fortune 500 boards still lags behind compared with other demographic groups at around three percent, and has remained almost untouched for the last three decades.
LatinasinBusiness.us (LIBizus) was born with the vision of advocating for the economic empowerment of Latinas in business and the workplace. Our goal is to promote, encourage and provide information and tools to ensure that Latinas receive the exposure and support they deserve for their participation and representation in the economic force of our country.
So when an organization such as the National Hispanic Corporate Council (NHCC) announces that this year the Corporate Executive Development Program (CEDP), a leadership training that grooms Hispanic managers to ascend into corporate leadership roles, graduated the largest-ever number of participants in the history of the program, we pay attention.
“As the nation’s leading organization founded with the mission of maximizing our corporate members’ Hispanic market opportunity, NHCC is making a tremendous impact in working with Fortune 1000 companies to increase the pool of Hispanic executive leadership. We are delighted to renew our partnership with the SMU Cox School of Business to offer CEDP in both 2016 and 2017,” said Octavio A. Hinojosa-Mier, NHCC Executive Director.
The program, established in 2011 by the NHCC and the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University (SMU Cox), is the only national program specifically designed to increase the Hispanic executive talent pool for corporate America, according to its organizers.
NHCC and SMU Cox Executive Education developed CEDP for Hispanic employees identified by their corporate employers as potential executives for leadership roles. The nine-month program combines business and leadership coursework modules taught by nationally-recognized SMU Cox faculty. Many of the program graduates have already progressed to executive positions with Fortune 1000 companies.
“We are proud to partner with the NHCC in this continued effort to prepare Latino talent for corporate executive responsibilities,” said Frank Lloyd, associate dean of Executive Education at SMU Cox. “CEDP graduates consistently deliver positive business results at high levels.”
Lloyd reported that 38 percent of the 110 participants across the five CEDP cohorts since 2011 have been Latinas. In 2015 alone, 12 participants were women. Involvement of Latinas in the five cohorts has ranged from 26 percent to 53 percent. “Latinas are well-represented in the CEDP, and their inclusion suggests that sponsoring companies are well aware of their management capabilities and potential,” he told LIBizus.
CEDP participants’ employers sponsoring them into the program are primarily Fortune 1000 companies. The fifth CEDP cohort led by Miguel Quiñones, the O. Paul Corley Distinguished Chair in Organizational Behavior at SMU Cox, had 33 participants from a number of NHCC corporate member companies, including: Comcast NBCUniversal, Darden Restaurants, Marriott International, Shell, State Farm Insurance and Wal-Mart.
However, Lloyd said, Raza Development Fund, a non-profit organization that invests capital and creates financing solutions to increase opportunities for the Latino community, has also sponsored a participant in the last two programs.
SMU Cox School of Business Dean Albert Niemi has waived the facility fees for the program. That waiver entitles SMU to enroll one of its high potential Latino staff leaders in each rendition. “SMU is therefore ‘walking the talk’ about developing Hispanic talent,” Lloyd made a remark.
Sponsorship and mentorship as main program components
According to the SMU associate dean, potential participants enroll through an application process but each applicant must show support from their immediate supervisors, their top managers, and a senior human resources leader.
“Each participant’s management team has a stake in the participant’s success both during the program and afterwards,” Lloyd added. Moreover, he said, an advisory board comprised of senior talent, marketing, and diversity executives from selected sponsoring companies shares information about each firm’s selection criteria to ensure a rough peer group of participants in each program and to share best practices for their on-going support.
“While each company has its own process to support participants following the program, the application and advisory board processes encourage company ownership of the participants’ post-program success,” he told LIBizus.
Several program features support application of new learning and behavior change throughout the program and afterwards. “For example, each participant is assigned a current or recently retired senior Latino executive as a mentor. This established relationship enables them to receive coaching on applying program insights and tools to current workplace situations,” he explains.
Working with mentors also provides guidance for participants in preparing and executing personal development plans. Some of these mentoring relationships continue after the program.
“In addition to mentoring relationships, each participant engages in a ‘360’ assessment process in which they receive behavior feedback from superiors, peers, and direct reports,” Lloyd noted. During the program they receive instruction on how to use this feedback for improved job performance and career advancement. Their mentors offer on-going guidance in this process as well.
Finally, the networks that participants establish among themselves provide a continuing resource after the program. Trusted colleagues in other firms are available for informal consultation on work and career issues.
The CEDP has proven its goal of accelerating the progress of Latino high potentials to top corporate executive positions. Of the over 100 CEDP alumni who’ve completed the program since 2011, more than 70 percent have achieved significant new responsibilities, often during the program.
The Cox school also provides tools to facilitate on-going application of learning and behavior change post-program participation. “We maintain an on-line community of past participants. We track participants’ movements as they achieve new career opportunities, and we share news in the community,” Lloyd said.
The program gives past participants the opportunity to serve as mentors to less experienced and lower level managers who enroll in a program for Rising Leaders. Many are delighted to receive the opportunity to “give back” by lending a helping hand to a following group of Latino management talent.
As the economic power of the Hispanic market continues to grow, many companies still struggle to understand the full potential of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Positioning Latino and Latina leaders in high decision-making ranks ensures the company’s competitive advantage at maintaining and increasing their market share. Commitment to send their potential leaders to strategic training programs such as CEDP creates a safety net that attracts and empowers a diverse workforce while allowing rising Hispanic leaders to advance to the positions they deserve.
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