WASHINGTON, DC – By Antonio Tijerino – President and CEO, Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
(Picture from Ad Week article)
“Papi! They are speaking Spanish on a Super Bowl commercial! The woman in it is Latina like me!” screamed my 12-year-old daughter bounding out of her seat watching the first ad coming out of the dazzling Rihanna performance. It was a moment of celebration in our household last night as if we were from Kansas City cheering for Patrick Mahomes.
The subject of my daughter’s – and millions of Latinos’ – jubilation and pride was the dynamic commercial called “Run With It,” which debuted during Super Bowl 2023 and, historically, was headlined by female Flag football star Diana Flores, who is the World Games’ gold medal-winning quarterback of the Mexico Women’s National Flag Football team. She also served as the AFC offensive coordinator at The Pro Bowl Games.
The historic moment is also an opportunity to highlight the importance of representation at the highest levels. It is not a coincidence that the Chief of Global Brand and Consumer Marketing at the NFL is Marissa Solis, who is a proud immigrant from Mexico. If she’s not in her influential position, would an NFL ad starring a Latina from Mexico during the Super Bowl have happened? Not likely …
Findings from a McKinsey report shows that diversity at Board and C-suite level improve success and innovation by 35 percent. Yet, Latinas represent only one percent in of C-suite positions at Fortune 500 companies according to HACR HACR – Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, and one percent of Fortune 500 board seats. Women of color overall only represent four percent of C-suite positions at Fortune 500 companies and only four percent of Hispanics overall hold those positions. There have only been three Latina Fortune 500 CEOs in history and currently there is one. Not one percent, but one. Una. En total.
Having Marissa in her powerful position not only brings tremendous value and perspective to the NFL but has a resounding impact on my daughter who needs to see what’s possible as a Latina. I can only imagine the additional weight and sense of responsibility that Marissa must carry with her every single day representing in some way the interests of 60 million-plus Latinos in this country and even more in terms of the female population.
Context is significant. Marissa’s feet are planted firmly in Harlingen, TX, located in the Rio Grande Valley, where she went after being born in Mexico. She does her job at the NFL galvanized by the indefatigable work ethic, humility and integrity of her parents who worked in restaurants as Marissa was growing up. Marissa went on to graduate from Georgetown and the prestigious LBJ School at the University of Texas in Austin, overcoming obstacles like Kadarius Toney when he returned the longest punt in Super Bowl history on Sunday.
Her career included Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico and Frito-Lay before she was hired by the NFL, and in my estimation, hired by the Latino community to represent us with one of America’s biggest brands.
That’s Marissa, but think of the impact having more Latinx representation C-suite executive positions would have on providing our community with greater access to valuable resources, marketing attention, philanthropy, investments, tech workforce development, entertainment representation, elected offices, etc. With approximately one in five people in the United States and nearly 30 percent of the student population being Latino, we are still hovering around four percent at the very companies that are vying for our two-and-a-half trillion dollars in buying power.
We are counting on Marissa as a decision maker at the NFL and corporate board members like Monica Lozano, Mónica Gil and others and our lone Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company Priscilla Almodovar to not only represent our interests but provide inspiration for others. We not only need Latinas in these positions, but the right Latinas.
Marissa shows up authentically as a Latina every single day and is committed to telling our stories every chance she gets as we saw during the Super Bowl with more than 200 million people watching around the world … including my 12-year-old daughter.