(OP-ED) Representation matters
An open call for corporations to do their part and use the upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month and show the Hispanic community that you care.
A month ago, when Vanity Fair’s eagerly-awaited annual Oscar issue landed, the magazine celebrated “10 creators and stars who showed humanity in a surreal year.”
For Hispanics everywhere, what painfully registered as surreal was the lack of a single Hispanic included among the subjects. It was particularly disappointing since the choices were otherwise pretty diverse. Everywhere in the Hispanic community people asked, “Where are the Latinos?”
Then again, it is almost a metaphor of the struggle Hispanics have across the board in the entertainment industry and beyond. Hispanics are close to 20% of the US population, in fact, the largest ethnic population in the country.
According to the Latino Donor Collaborative, Hispanics make up 29% of all the audiences in the U.S. Yet when it comes to entertainment, we are still barely a bleep on the radar, whether it is on camera or behind the scenes.
We are only 1.1% of TV’s showrunners, 2.4% of movie directors, and 1.4% of all movie leads. Latinas have the least amount of screen share across all groups at 2.5%. Across all media, in fact, Hispanic representation is only 5.5%.
Here’s a plain truth. You have to be seen in order to be heard and then valued. Representation matters. And we aren’t there yet.
Hollywood, of course, isn’t the only place Hispanics find themselves underrepresented.
Just this past February, the Latino Corporate Directors Association, released research that tracked only 16 Hispanic CEOs among the S&P 500. At 3.2% representation, this number is actually higher than ever before.
The political arena still falls short, too. Six out of 100 Senators are Hispanic, though progress is noted with Alex Padilla becoming the first Hispanic Senator to represent California (where half the population is Hispanic). Only 9% of the members of the House of Representatives are Hispanic, which means not at all proportionate to the 20% Hispanic population across the country.
It’s even more pronounced for Latinas, who face the double hurdle of being both Hispanic and female. (Yes, still in 2021). Whether it’s politics, corporate executive roles, or classically white male domains like Science and Engineering, too many of us have yet to make serious inroads.
Another distinction needs to be made, adding to the complexity and perhaps the challenge. It is not that we are not recognized, appreciated, or participating in the mainstream. An extraordinary 75% of the country sees us as contributors to American society. They engage with us as the fastest-growing cohort enlisting in the military, interact with 19 million Hispanic essential workers, and are cared for by 250,000 Hispanic nurses. But when it comes to rising among the ranks in all industries and across every sector, our community still lags and sometimes languishes.
Representation matters. I am hopeful to see new role models, think of how perceptions can start to change when Sonia Sotomayor was named to the Supreme Court. How stereotypes are broken and expectations expand when someone like Diana Trujillo leads NASA’s search for life on Mars. And as we watch the most diverse Cabinet a U.S. president has ever had, we have reason to be encouraged, in fact, optimistic.
Representation matters. And that is why we are working at We Are All Human to make sure that every Hispanic is heard, seen, and valued! I call all corporations to do their part and use the upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month to show the Hispanic community that you care. With this objective in mind, we have created the Hispanic Star toolkit, for you to use in your planning for this important month of celebrations. Everything from the latest data about Hispanics to banners, infographics, templates for you to have a meaningful Hispanic Heritage Month. Use it, share it!