For years I have been talking to corporations about the growth and profit opportunity of the Hispanic market. Factually speaking, Hispanics are the youngest and fastest-growing demographic segment in our economy. In the housing sector, Hispanics account for about 50% of the homeownership growth in America. The numbers are big and the opportunity is clear. In a nutshell, it makes good business sense for large companies to focus on Hispanic consumers. In my years running NAHREP, this has been my message to real estate firms, mortgage companies, and home builders.
However, I now realize that persuading big companies to invest more resources to reach Hispanic consumers is good, but not enough. When a company sells more of its products to Hispanic consumers, it helps them grow and make more profit, but when the overwhelming number of employees, shareholders and contractors of that company are not Hispanic, the money flows away from Hispanic communities exacerbating a wealth gap that already is untenable. The Hispanic Wealth Project Blueprint shows more information.
Public and large private corporations should be financially incentivized or even legally required to hire executives, appoint board members, and procure contractors in proportion to the overall population and the customers they sell to. For years, there has been a push to get large companies to diversify their boardrooms and suppliers, but the progress has been painfully slow. Making it a requirement may sound extreme, but the wealth gap in America has become exponentially worse during the pandemic and more than anything else, it threatens our system and our quality of life. Besides, doing something like this in not unprecedented, there are laws on the books that were designed to address this sort of problem in the past.
In banking, we have a law called the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). It essentially states that banks are required to make loans and reinvest the money they take in deposits back into the communities from where those deposits originate. Banking used to be a local business, but as banks became larger and national banks started to emerge, smaller, low- and moderate-income communities suffered when their capital was deployed to less diverse and wealthier regions of the country. Banks who score poorly on their CRA report card may be restricted from growing or making acquisitions. Banking is a heavily regulated business and because deposits are insured by the FDIC, the government has a great deal of leverage to enforce CRA.
It will be a little harder to impose these rules on non-banking companies, but not impossible. Because of CRA, the template already exists. Today, Hispanics are 18% of the population, yet hold less than 4% of the board seats, and senior executive positions for Fortune 500 companies. The data on procurement is harder to measure, but it is estimated that Hispanic-owned firms received less than 2% of the contracting opportunities from large companies. These numbers are unacceptable, and we are now at a point where drastic measures to address this issue may be required.
Almost everyone, including Democrats, were expecting last Tuesday’s midterm election results to heavily favor Republicans. Many predicted a “red wave” where they would pick up 50-60 seats in the House and 3-4 in the Senate. Joe Rogan said the red wave that is coming will be like the elevator doors opening in the horror film The Shining.
Selling during a downturn required a more strategic approach, but the opportunities for growth and expansion are available to the savviest of companies. Here are some of the best ideas I’ve read about.
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors said “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”. The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” A few days later the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out “Your horse has returned and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” and the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
I’ve written about this in other iterations. I’ve talked about finding your rhythm, and the importance of letting things come to you, not forcing things, and then riding the momentum when you have the wind at your back. The point of it all is that success is not linear. Progress doesn’t follow a straight line. For most people, the journey is long and winding. It looks more like a stairway or a hockey stick.