I remember when I first read about DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion. Hmm, I thought, will this be the start of change? Will this effort make a difference when it comes to promoting women, Hispanics, and African Americans to high-level positions, especially in our own Miami-Dade County?
After all, 70% of our population is Hispanic and 17% is African American. I would say we live in a diverse county. But do minorities really have power and do they occupy the first places? If your answer is yes, we need to talk. Over the years, large corporations have tended to hire non-Hispanic white men for leadership positions.
Unfortunately, large corporations and some large nonprofits in our county are looking nationally in their search to fill important positions in South Florida, sending a message to those who apply locally.
There are so many talented people in Greater Miami who also understand the beautiful anomaly that this city is. We don’t need to bring in people from Colorado, New York, California and other states. Companies need to act on their “DEI” mission and hire people of color who can do the job and who are here.
Too often corporations and other businesses want us to believe they are all for DEI, when the reality is a different story.
Many of them don’t care about being inclusive, they just look like it. The establishment is good and strong, giving the top spots to white men. This is not just a local problem, but a national one. Until we see more change, “DEI” will remain just three letters meant to represent a company’s serious intent to promote and hire minorities. But, right now, I don’t see it being practiced as much as it should be.
There was good news, however. The new owners of Steward Healthcare System recently named Dr. Marisela Marrero as South Florida Regional President. I am also proud that Dr. Aida Levitan, one of my mentors, is Chairman of the Board of US Century Bank. Recently, the Florida Bankers Association named Miriam Lopez as the first woman and Hispanic president in the trade group’s 112-year history. She is also Miami-Dade County’s fourth FBA president since the 1970s.
Kudos to them, but we still have a long way to go, especially for Hispanic and African American men.
We can say that there have been some changes for the positive. But it’s like using a band-aid for a huge wound that obviously won’t stop the bleeding, a curita as we call it in Spanish.
We can only hope to see more progress in the future. Until then, we must continue to fight for the representation that people of color deserve.
Liliam M. Lopez is the founder of the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
This story was originally published April 22, 2022 5:45 p.m.