Also, the SROs, or self-regulating organizations – the most famous being the stock exchanges – the rules now require that companies listed on the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange] and the Nasdaq [National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quote exchange] have a majority of independent directors. "Independent" essentially means someone who doesn't work for the company or have a familial relationship with management. This [rule] means that many boards must be reconstituted. I maintain this is an opportunity for diversity on boards. Companies can bring onto their boards people such as Hispanics with expertise to contribute.
Many companies in retail sales, or [those that] sell products or services, have to deal in large measure with the Hispanic community. It seems crazy not to have expertise on the board on how to reach Hispanics. In many large Southwest cities, the Hispanic population is 30 to 40 percent. So I don't see how companies there can afford not to have expertise. Even if it's 15 percent, that could be the difference between success or not. This provides an opportunity – a business reason – for companies to look for people with expertise in marketing to the Hispanic community. It's a perfect storm to allow for companies to increase diversity and reach out to qualified Hispanics who can benefit the companies.
HB: The theory of "imperfect information" says the financial markets don't have a realistic understanding about minority business markets, and may still see them as mom-and-pop shops in inner cities. Any ideas on how to change that perception?
Mr. Campos: I believe the business case for the Hispanic community is compelling. The demographics are growing. Part of the demographic has Spanish-language needs. The demographic is young. Estimates vary but if you include Puerto Rico there are 42 million Hispanics [in the U.S.] with a fast growth rate. Clearly in the future, a large segment of the work force will be Hispanic. There are huge needs for training. We have a huge youth market, so all the companies that market to the youth demographic will have to market to Hispanics.
The bottom line is that this case needs better presentation. Many companies are getting it sort of, but I'm not sure the case has been made completely. Again, our advocacy groups need to be involved in making the presentation – HACR, NCLR, and others. They do have presentations, but we need a systemitized approach. We need to bring in the think tanks and college research centers – UT [University of Texas], Tomas Rivera [Policy Institute], the University of Georgia's Selig Center. Many have demographic studies. All of those use viable Census data. I would look for companies like Univision and others to fund that kind of research. Our U.S. Census data has not been fully utilized and interpreted either, in my opinion. We need to organize and make clear presentations to Corporate America in an organized and systematic way.
HB: How many times do you have to repeat a message like this before it gains momentum?
Mr. Campos: What happens in investment banking is everyone has a short-term focus. Everyone is interested in low-hanging fruit. Few have the patience to look at longer-developing projects. That's one of the disadvantages for our community. The people at Goldman [Sachs] want to be stars in two years. So we have that impatience and somehow we have to interest sources of capital. The business case is there, but we need people with a longer-term perspective to get involved.
HB: Do you have anything else you'd like to share?
Mr. Campos: Yes. We take diversity seriously here [at the SEC]. Our agency compares favorably with other agencies, but it's not enough –- I'm not satisfied. So I'm heading up a diversity task force to try to bring more Hispanics and minorities to the SEC.
HB: Who do you hire – mostly lawyers or accountants?
Mr. Campos: Mostly lawyers. We're a very lawyer-focused agency. But we also hire accountants, and we're looking for MBAs to help analyze companies. It's a great opportunity to learn the securities laws of this country, which can prove advantageous for people who later want to return to the private sector.
Most Popular Stories
- Twitter Names Woman to Board
- NSA Tracks 5 Billion Cellphone Records a Day
- Nelson Mandela Dies After Momentous Life
- W.H. Corrects Itself on Unclegate
- Nelson Mandela Dead at 95
- Fast-Food Workers Want $15 an Hour
- Pope Francis Says He'll Fight Child Sex Abuse
- Yemen Attack Kills 52
- Roybal-Allard Tours Gordon Brush Plant
- Aspen Contracting Adding 300 Jobs