Dolores Kunda: How to increase Latino representation on corporate boards
Misconceptions are keeping Hispanics off corporate boards.
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“I think a common misconception is in general [the Latino community] is less educated, in general it is less economically robust,” said Dolores Kunda. “There is a fallacy that we’re hard to find.”
Kunda was in advertising for 30 years.
She worked for Leo Burnett before she founded one of the largest Hispanic advertising agencies in the country, LaPiz, which will celebrate 20 years of existence in 2019.
She retired from advertising in 2013 but is considered an expert in the Hispanic market.
“I think Hispanics are underrepresented (on corporate boards) because there is a fallacy that we’re hard to find,” Kunda continued.
According to a study by RSR Partners, Hispanics represented only 2.4 percent of board members of Fortune 1000 companies.
Her own story challenges the narrative that boards can’t find Hispanics.
“They (the company) were looking for Hispanic marketing expertise and they found me,” Kunda said of her first corporate board experience which occurred in 2005.
Kunda currently serves on two boards: Lenox China and Finish Line, Inc.
Kunda is also the executive director of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA); she said one of LCDA’s goals is to break down those perceptions.
“There’s a crying need for an organization like LCDA, because it takes away the excuse that Hispanics are hard to find,” she said.
“I think that, in the past it’s easy to hire people that you are comfortable with, that look like you. There’s a lot of unconscious bias,” Kunda said further. “The best kind of talent is not necessarily one that looks the same.”
She said the key for LCDA is to supply corporate America with qualified Hispanic candidates: “What we do is we make sure that anyone we put forward for a board seat is highly qualified. And there are thousands of Hispanics that are highly qualified.”
She continued: “Since the members of LCDA are all on corporate boards- or have been on a corporate board, we know what it takes to be on a board.”
She said there has been “more and more research on how having a diverse board and a diverse c-suite provides better and more creative business decisions.”
A 2014 study by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company entitled “Diversity Counts” found just that.
“The analysis found a statistically significant relationship between a more diverse leadership and better financial performance,” the study noted. “Companies with 10 percent higher gender and ethnic/racial diversity on management teams and boards in the US, for instance, had EBIT (Earnings Before Income and Taxes) that was 1.1 percent higher; in the UK, companies with the same diversity level had EBIT that was 5.8 percent higher.”
Kunda said there should also be other reforms.
“I think that there should be a consideration to term limits on boards,” Kunda said. “Boards should report what their diversity make-up is, it’s not required.”
She said that now to figure out the diversity of the board, someone is required to look at the proxy documents “and snuff out from the bios (the make-up of the corporate boards).”