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 The editors of AL DÍA have chosen Esther Aguilera as Person of the Year 2021. Her merits are in full view. Photo: AL DIA News
 The editors of AL DÍA have chosen Esther Aguilera as Person of the Year 2021. Her merits are in full view.

Op-Ed - Thank you, Esther Aguilera

The CEO of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA) has accomplished in 2021 the most important job ever done in a critical area of representation of…

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I remember it was over 20 years ago that the issue of lack of representation of Latinos in our national and local boards finally became an issue of public discussion.

It was initially inside the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), at the time headed by former U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, who worked hard to do away with the excuse used at the time to keep Latinos out of important boards: Latinos lack the education, the experience, perhaps the sophistication.

Anna went to the lengths of hosting a Seminar for Latino Leaders at Harvard University on the very subject of Corporate Governance, to add the requested academic pedigree to our assets.

I remember participating with the cream of the crop of leaders from that time who converged from across the nation to the prestigious campus, and the very expensive training, convinced that the accelerated education at Harvard would do it.

Anna’s efforts were the first, nevertheless, and they were absolutely necessary. As those others that followed when Carlos F. Orta, Executive Director of HACR from 2006 to 2014, led a fierce public advocacy for the following 8 years to expose publicly the obvious under-representation of Latinos in boards.

It was only until the creation of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA) in 2016 that the long struggle was organized on multiple fronts to achieve substantial results.

Take a look at what happened in 2021, when we finally saw a fourfold growth in the number of Latinos in corporate boards —the largest ever. 82 Latinos were appointed as directors to public company boards in the first quarter of 2021, compared with only 19 appointments in the same quarter of 2020. The number of female directors of Latino descent increased fivefold year over year, from seven to 35.

Today is not an exception to see a Latino on a board, as it was 10 years ago. We now have hundreds of them —300 plus to be exact in the top 1000 corporations in the US

Today is not an exception to see a Latino on a board, as it was 10 years ago. We now have hundreds of them —300 plus to be exact in the top 1000 corporations in the US— most of them very young, most of them supported by the organized and very successful advocacy sustained by LCDA over the past 5 years.

LCDA not only has its own institute to train candidates for boards —the Board Ready Institute— but also its own automated “board tracker” to keep the numbers current and under check. In addition, LCAD conducts consistent media advocacy and direct advocacy with leaders from top corporations in the nation who come to the Annual LCDA’s Board Leaders Convening.

By changing the board landscape in a third of the top 1000 corporations in the nation, Esther Aguilera, as the CEO of LCDA, has contributed to changing the narrative of Latinos in our nation in this year 2021.

That is the reason why Esther was chosen by AL DIA’s editors as the Person of the Year 2021.

Congratulations, Esther, and thank you so much for the great work you do.

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