Some days, when I read lists like Crain’s New York Business “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” I feel that I must clearly live in a parallel universe. One that doesn’t overlap even a tiny bit with the world these editors inhabit. Given the latest U.S. Census numbers revealing that there are now 50.4 million Hispanics in the country, and that a third of the population is diverse, there seems to be no other explanation for the lack of diversity in lists such as this one.
We all know these lists are idiosyncratic and that oftentimes people disagree on who was featured and who was left out. But the absolute absence of Latinas from a list highlighting the most influential women in New York City can’t be a difference of opinion. I’m not saying there’s bad intention behind this compilation. No. I’m willing to give the editors of Crain’s and their counterparts at Time magazine (known for creating similar lists at a national level) the benefit of the doubt.
I choose to believe it’s not malice on their part but an undiversified newsroom with a homogeneous network. Given that people tend to draw recommendations from their own circles, if you don’t have a diverse network, you will miss out on top influential Latinos, African American, Asians, Native Americans, people with disabilities and GLBTs. And the most worrisome part in the blatant absence of minorities on these lists is the implication that there are no leaders from these groups on par with those listed. Otherwise, they would have made the list, right?
Contrary to what you may conclude from reading the latest Crain’s compilation, there are plenty of influential Latinas in New York City and they are not influencing only Hispanics. These influential Latinas are exemplified by Carolina Herrera, fashion designer and entrepreneur; Daisy Expósito-Ulla, Chairman and CEO of d expósito and Partners; Jaqueline J. Gonzalez, Executive Director, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; and Liliana Gil, former top Marketing executive at Johnson & Johnson and co-founder of XL Alliance and Acento Group, recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of 190 Young Global Leaders across 65 countries. (See my blog for more.)
Maybe to compensate for the lack of recognition in the general market, publications serving Hispanics publish the same kinds of lists featuring successful Latino men and women. The problem that I see is that these separate lists perpetuate the perception that Hispanics (and diverse talent in general) belong to a different category of people and that they only influence those with similar backgrounds. Nothing can be further from the truth as evidenced by how much Hispanic culture has impregnated the U.S. culture. Shakira, anyone? Soccer? Salsa?
According to Leylha Ahuile, Senior Analyst of Multicultural Reports for Mintel, from 2000 to 2010 minorities were responsible for 83% of the U.S. population growth. Texas has just joined California, New Mexico, Hawaii and DC as a state where minorities have become the majority. Do these editors think they can afford to continue to ignore this reality?
The Hispanic community now wields a purchasing power of $1 trillion, so they have captured the attention of corporations interested in a share of their wallets. But what these corporations need to understand is that they must recognize this community for all that it is: a vibrant, young, powerful, influential group of people who hold the future of this country in their hands. Are these corporations and editors ready to honor Latinos alongside their non-Latino peers? To celebrate their accomplishments and power? Let’s face it: It’s not only the right thing to do; it’s the business-wise thing to do.
Mariela Dabbah is the CEO of www.latinosincollege.com and an award winning writer and speaker.