Marco A. Davis
President and CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)
Since early in 2020, the nation has been reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. And then the live video-recorded murder of George Floyd, with the subsequent widespread acknowledgment that his killing was sadly one amongst countless others, has shaken our society to its core. Together, these events have exposed deep racial, economic, and social inequity in our society and the devastating consequences of that inequity, particularly on black and Latino communities.
Some have said we are living in two pandemics — COVID-19 and systemic racism — and it is clear that this moment calls for a swift and dramatic response. But what is the way forward?
I believe one contributing factor to our current reality, where issues and events are affecting different populations in different ways, is the fact that historical, structural, systemic racism and inequality have locked many people and groups out of leadership and decision-making roles.
As a result, our communities have often been overlooked or ignored, and at times targeted for discrimination by the people empowered to create policies and allocate resources.
Strength in numbers
But we Latinos are 60+ million strong — nearly 1 out of 5 people and growing, due to a higher birth rate than other demographic groups. We are also a young population; we are a quarter of the student population in America’s schools, and will represent half of all new workers joining the workforce by 2025.
There has been ample evidence that diverse groups make better decisions, and organizations with diverse leadership are more effective and profitable. Similarly, leaders who come from, and have extensive knowledge and understanding of the communities they serve have been found to be more responsive to, and better embraced by, those communities.
Increasing leadership diversity will be beneficial to the Latino community and the nation as a whole. But it won’t happen organically or spontaneously — the public, private, and nonprofit sectors must be intentional about creating and supporting efforts to place more Latinos in key decision-making roles so their insights, creativity, and perspectives help make better decisions that address vital concerns and improve conditions for all people.
A chance to lead
Latinos have tremendous talent and can contribute in impactful ways to creating a more prosperous society. The CHCI’s mission is to prepare and help move Latinos into leadership roles in strategic ways. By providing leadership training, life-changing experiences, and professional development resources and opportunities, we help put Latinos on the path to positions of power, making an impact in whatever sector or field they choose.
We must ensure that real, long-term investments are made in Hispanic communities, including funding for better schools, healthcare, and other social services, as well as access to capital and financial opportunities to start a business, buy a home, or pursue higher education.
Latino representation must be increased at the leadership level to reduce inequity in America and make justice universal. It is imperative — it’s a smart business decision, it’s in everyone’s best interest, and it’s the right thing to do.