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Money Rules

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HB: Another issue is representation on corporate boards. What do you see happening in the boardroom, and how might the Hispanic community increase its presence?

Mr. Campos: I see an opportunity here. Sarbanes-Oxley was the landmark reform that occurred two years ago. [In implementing Sarbanes-Oxley] the SEC now requires the audit committee of a public company be composed of independent directors, and the audit committee must manage the relationship with the outside auditor. The auditor [firm] doesn't report to, nor is it hired by, the CEO or CFO anymore. The relationship is with the audit committee. So there's opportunity there for individuals with an accounting, audit, and financial background to serve on these boards.

Also, for 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. This 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 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.

HB: The concept 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], Tomás 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 a systematic way.

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