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Patricia Salas Pineda. 
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Patricia Salas Pineda: An optimistic perspective

Patricia Salas Pineda is optimistic that Hispanic representation on corporate boards will increase. 

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Patricia Pineda is optimistic that Hispanic representation on corporate boards will soon be in line with their effect on the U.S. economy.

“We have been a demographic which just historically has been overlooked,” Salas Pineda told AL DÍA in an interview. “I am optimistic that’s changing. We are such a force. We are the fastest growing consumer segment. We are the fastest growing population in the United States. We represent $2.13 trillion in GDP (Gross Domestic Product).”

She sat down with AL DÍA during the Third Annual Latino Corporate Director’s Association (LCDA) Convening in Chicago, held on Oct. 18-19.

Salas Pineda is the founder and current chair of LCDA.

“Our contributions are very significant and so corporate America is now beginning to see that we need to be represented in the boardroom as well,” Pineda said.

Salas Pineda knows of what she speaks; she first served on a corporate board at Levi Strauss & Co., when she was thirty-nine.

She continues to sit on that board today, as well as the Board of Frontier Airlines.

But she is the exception not the rule. Latinos represent only 2.4% of board members of Fortune 1000 Companies.

Who is Patricia Salas Pineda?

Patricia Salas Pineda initially studied and practiced the law. She built a very successful thirty-year career at Toyota, starting out as an attorney, working her way up to General Counsel, or chief attorney.

She moved into management, stating: “It was important for to personally grow, and I wanted to make contributions in other areas.”

“Early on in my career, I was part of the merger between General Motors and Toyota,” Salas Pineda continued. “I was part of the start up team; so, I gained a lot of experience that really I feel enabled me to make contributions in other areas outside the law.”

She became a vice-president with responsibilities in corporate advertising, corporate communications, and human resources.

Salas Pineda retired from Toyota in 2016.

Improving Diversity on Corporate Boards

Pineda said LCDA will play a critical role in increasing Latino representation on boards.

“I think that through organizations like the LCDA, we’re able to get our membership out and exposed to CEOsto boards, to non-gov committees, to search firms,” Salas Pineda said. “This year we’ve been asked to engage in forty searches.”

Beyond LCDA and organizations like it, she also believed that a cultural shift must occur.

“We have been a demographic that has been overlooked for a variety of reasons.”

Pineda believes that increased diversity on corporate boards must be demanded by shareholders, specifically institutional investors.

“There is a correlation between diversity, profitability and better decision making,” she said. “It’s important for shareholders institutional investors to really demand diversity on the board rooms.”

Getting there is easier said than done.

Chris Crane, the CEO of Exelon who also spoke at the conference, said that when his company went to his recruiting firm to search for diverse candidates, the firm did not have any candidates.

“We’ve heard that, from other CEOs and executives,” Pineda said, “and what we’re saying is that CEOs and non-gov committees need to demand a diverse slate.”

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