SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative Showcased at Hispanic Leadership Summit

by Anna Martinez|

LLI Director Shares Perspectives on Higher Education’s role in Advancing Latinos

The first-ever Hispanic Leadership Summit held at the United Nations took place in New York City in early December, and SMU Cox School of Business was front and center.

SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative Director Ana Rodriguez presented an overview highlighting the SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative, which was founded as part of SMU Cox Executive Education in 2013. As corporate America comes to recognize that Latinos represent a critical source of leadership talent for their long-term success and sustainability, she shared evidence of the LLI’s proven success in creating a talent pipeline to serve that need. Rodriguez was invited to attend and present by AT&T Business, the inaugural event sponsor. The We Are All Human Foundation, a global non-profit devoted to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion, organized the event designed to begin the process of building a common agenda for the U.S. Hispanic community.

In her presentation, Rodriguez cited research that shows how underrepresented Latinos are in executive leadership roles nationally. “The context of Latino leadership in this country is more important than ever. Today, Latinos represent only eighteen percent of the country’s population, but they contribute $2.3 trillion to the US economy,” she said. According to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, Hispanics will represent 74 percent of the labor force growth by 2020, but other research indicates that Latinos represent only three percent of trustees on Fortune 500 boards of directors and only eleven Fortune 500 CEOs are Latino, with only one woman among those eleven.

“That is not okay,” Rodriguez said. “Together Hispanic leaders and companies, like AT&T, are working to change that. My entire career has been about building communities. It was an honor to represent the SMU Cox LLI as part of a group of nearly 200 leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly Conference Room to discuss strategies to move the Hispanic community forward. Having our work recognized on the global stage at the United Nations sends a powerful message about the advantages the Latino community brings to corporate America.”

The SMU Cox LLI is the country’s only dedicated business school based-executive education program focused exclusively on cultivating and growing today’s and tomorrow’s Latino business leaders. According to Rodriguez, “To help drive the talent pipeline, the LLI helps encourage Hispanic students as young as middle school by giving them assets for educational attainment that includes college completion.” She added that corporations must be committed to understanding and investing in hiring more diverse talent that includes more Hispanics. “Once employed,” she said, “high potential Hispanics should then be identified by employers for executive education training to help enhance their overall performance and future career success. That’s where LLI comes in, serving a critical mission.”

The Hispanic Leadership Summit was a non-partisan conference. According to organizers, it went “beyond sectoral interests and politics to discuss and reflect on the commonalities among the Hispanic community, which is the future that we envision together and what should be done to thrive.”  About 200 Hispanic/Latino business and community leaders from across the country were in attendance. The Summit goal was to set objectives to be completed by 2020.

Co-hosts for the event were Solomon “Sol” Trujillo, chair and co-founder of The Latino Donor Collaborative; Henry Cisneros, former secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development and former mayor of San Antonio; Patricia Menendez, vice chair of Greenberg Traurig; Claudia Romo Edelman, We are All Human Foundation founder; and Cid Wilson, CEO of Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.

About SMU Cox
The SMU Cox School of Business, established in 1920, is committed to influencing the way the world conducts business via prolific research that provokes innovation, change and global thought leadership. The Cox School of Business offers a full range of business education programs including BBA, Full-Time MBA, Professional MBA (part-time) and Master’s degree programs, as well as Executive Education. Consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools, SMU Cox maintains an active alumni network in more than 80 countries. SMU Cox is accredited by the AACSB.