by Patricia Mota, President and CEO of HACE

While companies today are better at integrating diversity into their hiring practices than before, there’s a piece of the equation that too many of them are sorely lacking.

A 2015 McKinsey study said 97 percent of U.S. companies have senior leadership teams that don’t reflect our country’s demographics.[1] With the Hispanic population in the U.S. at an all-time high, accounting for 18 percent of the population in 2016 and growing, why has the monotone makeup of management teams been so slow to change?[2]

While more and more companies are committed to getting diverse talent in the door at the entry level, too many Latinos don’t see themselves reflected in company senior management. That makes it more difficult for them to envision themselves advancing in their own careers and to emulate the path of leaders who look like them.

Delia Gutierrez McLaughlin is a member of the board of HACE and is President and CEO of AzTech Innovation. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America she noticed fewer and fewer people that looked like her. “During my own career, I have either been the only woman or the only Latina at the table. And the higher the pinnacle I reached, the rarer the air became. I did not have any mentors or sponsors that looked like me and I had to discover how to cultivate a relationship with the few women who were in executive roles on my own.”

Delia’s story is unfortunately not unique. That’s why the next wave of D&I progress needs to ensure diverse representation at every rung of the ladder. If a company says there isn’t a deep enough talent pool to fill senior, executive and C-suite spots with diverse talent, its leadership must be accountable for building that talent pool. For example, some companies are helping coach people of diverse backgrounds to become successful leaders, even at a young age. There are programs that pair professionals with high school students to mentor and prepare them for college and jobs, showing them what they can achieve and helping early on to change traditional stereotypes of what a leader looks like.

And we know it can work at these early stages. A student who attended our Annual STEM Career Conference at Google told us, “meeting Latino professionals working for big name companies is really empowering.”

For companies and managers to make sure their efforts have a true impact on leadership diversity, they also need to focus on intentional succession development. According to a 2016 Harvard Business Review study,[3] traditional diversity training and performance reviews don’t impact diversity in management.

So, what does?

  • Voluntary diversity training (“I choose to show up, so I must be pro-diversity”) led to a 9.1% increase in male Hispanic representation in management, while mandatory training did not show positive results.
  • Formal mentoring programs saw the same boost for men and a 23.7% rise for women.
  • Diversity task forces and diversity managers promote transparency and accountability that most organizations lack, and they also help raise Hispanic representation in management by 12% to 18.2%.

One company leading the way in these efforts is ADP. Their Chief Diversity Officer Rita Mitjans not only serves as a role model herself, she introduces company processes that fundamentally improve diversity. As a global leader in human capital management, ADP knows that attracting and retaining top talent is critical to their success. Diversity & Inclusion enables the organization to make decisions faster, innovate, and develop cutting-edge HR Technology for their clients around the world. Diversity is integrated into all aspects of ADP’s talent process including Hiring, Talent Development, and Succession planning.

And it’s working.

By holding themselves accountable to results, ADP is in position to achieve 33% female representation and 20% minority representation in their executive ranks by fiscal year 2019  (a five-point improvement respectively over a three-year period). ADP, a long-standing HACE partner, also makes significant donations of both time and resources, committing to the hands-on education of Latinos at all stages of their career.

True commitment to inclusion and diversity means improving the tools Latinos need to rise to the top, inspiring them and unleashing their will to contribute. Thoughtful systems like the ones highlighted above need to be in place throughout the entire career trajectory to ensure those career paths are available. These efforts can start at the entry level, but we can no longer allow them to end there.

Patricia Mota is the president and CEO of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, a national nonprofit dedicated to the employment, development and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals.