Blog Post

Diversity Dialogue with Patricia Mota, President and CEO, HACE

By Jennifer London
April 3, 2018

The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) is a national nonprofit dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals. Since 1982, HACE has served as a resource for Latinos in the workplace and an expert for corporations seeking to access diverse talent. Through professional development, resources and networks, and by facilitating access to meaningful career opportunities, HACE helps Latinos succeed in every phase of their careers. With a network of over 52,000 members across the country, HACE works with employers to remain competitive in an increasingly dynamic economy by helping them attract, develop and retain Latino and diverse professionals.

Diversity Best Practices recently spoke with HACE’s president and CEO, Patricia Mota to learn more about what HACE is up to and the ways in which organizations can leverage HACE’s expertise and partnership to recruit, retain and advance Latino talent.

What are the initiatives at HACE that you are particularly excited about right now?

Our main focus right now is our professional leadership development programming and ensuring that it is culturally relevant, intentional and moving the needle for Latinos in the workforce. Specifically, we are excited about the expansion of Mujeres de HACE, our women’s leadership program into two new markets: Atlanta and Silicon Valley area.

Mujeres empowers high potential Latina women to succeed professionally and to thrive personally. It is a 14-week, cohort-based program serving 15-25 women at a time. This program is developed as a train-the-trainer model to allow for multiple cohorts around the country to go through the program simultaneously. We work with local subject matter experts from our networks, on the ground in a particular region, to run the program. Our corporate partners serve as hosts and sponsors for each regional program.

Mujeres is open to mid-level Latina professionals with high potential growth. In addition, for some partners, we have developed a program specific to their organization if they have a large enough cohort to run internally.

The Mujeres program covers three key areas. The first is understanding of self: leadership capabilities, best practices, and digging deeper into traditional Latino values and traditional cultural norms and, more importantly, what the opportunities are to leverage those to advance in a corporate workspace. This can also help individuals understand what is holding them back. We see a lot of transformation right from the start.

The second area is relevant, hands-on content that participants can immediately take back to the workplace. We listened to our members and upon hearing from them the barriers to advancement and how to become an influential leaders, our programs were developed. We spend a lot of time on how to become influential leaders and to be more visible in their organization.

A key aspect of this part of the program is exposure to Latino senior leaders. Many of the participants don’t have that in their company so it is important to provide that exposure and connection to role models. If you don’t see someone who looks like you it will be more challenging to envision yourself getting to that level.

Lastly we provide individual coaching and career planning to take what they have learned and make a plan to get to the next level that they are living what they are passionate about as well.


40% of program participants report a promotion within six months of completing program

40% report a salary increase within six months of completing program

80% report serving on nonprofit board or volunteering after program

100% would recommend program to a colleague

What are you seeing as the biggest challenges facing Latino talent currently and what are some ways HACE is addressing those challenges?

We take an annual pulse survey of our members to see where they are in their careers and to get a sense of what the top barriers to advancement are so we can continuously improve our programming to reflect the reality of our members. Based on the results from 1000 respondents, we identified two major areas that needed our focus.

The first barrier is Latino employees not feeling comfortable to be their true and authentic selves in the workplace. Perhaps they have to cover who they are. Much of this has to do with a traditional corporate culture not aligning with their own. For example, Latinos are raised to respect authority and in an evolving corporate culture, employees are encouraged to challenge authority.

As mentioned earlier, we develop programming that specifically examines how Latino culture plays a role in a person’s professional development and provide tools to work through advancement barriers and leverage individual assets or positive attributes.

The other major issue is the lack of access to Latino mentors or role models and being able to see folks that look like them in senior roles. Because not all of our members have those people at their organizations, we provide an opportunity at all of our events and programs to expose our members to senior Latino leaders from a range of industries and roles.

Many companies have partnerships with HACE and other similar professional networks, but many of them are not doing all they can to get the most out of those partnerships. What are the key elements of a best practice partnership with an organization like HACE to best recruit, support and advance Latino talent?

We have been encouraging our corporate partners to think about recruitment in a more intentional manner. And although hosting career fairs and collecting resumes are still part of our work the partnership cannot end there.

The most successful partners are not just attending a career expo once a year. Their partnership with HACE is part of their D&I strategy. We propose a year-round partnership with various touch points and one that is actively involved in their recruitment efforts. We can send you all the candidates in the world, but if there is no active engagement, it is going to be tough to sustain that, and, if you do get the talent, to retain them.

We recommend a few ways to maximize your partnership with organizations like HACE.

  1. Ensure there are multiple touchpoints at the organization to manage the relationship. Our strongest and most fruitful partnerships may start through D&I or HR but also include other points of engagement. For instance, a woman who went through our leadership development program then attended our college recruiting fair to recruit there, because she wanted to represent her organization. In addition, we often work with Employee Resource Groups at our partner organizations to provide professional development to their members and to support their community engagement programming. And, of course, we work closely with many of our partners’ recruitment teams.
  2. Send your employees to our leadership development programs. They connect to our network, build relationships and in turn they recruit to their organizations and act as ambassadors for their company.
  3. Host our programs and recruiting events on your campus. This way, we bring our membership to you and you can highlight your Latino leaders, your D&I efforts and send a message that this is a great place to work.
  4. Attend our National Leadership Summit. We are getting away from the traditional career expo format where you hand someone a resume at a booth. We are encouraging organizations to host activities and to engage in workshops to help facilitate important conversations and to build relationships.

How have ERGs at your partner organizations leveraged HACE?

ERGs are often charged with making an impact on the communities they serve, professional development for members of the ERG, and helping with recruitment, to name a few. HACE helps connect them in all of those areas.

One way ERGs are making an impact is by getting involved in our El Futuro high school leadership development program. Our staff will train ERG members on a specific module of the program, where it be budgeting and planning for your future, a dress for success module, or the career fruition component and then the ERG members deliver those modules to the high school students in the program.

To support their professional development efforts, we offer sessions from our leadership programs to the ERGs, a speakers list, and multiple ERGs designate two or three members each year to participate in our leadership development programs.

And, of course, we offer multiple opportunities throughout the year for our partners to participate in recruitment events at which ERG members are often present to represent the organization.

What does the future hold for HACE?

Our vision is to see a world full of Latinos who are achieving their fullest potential for themselves and the communities they serve. So, for us, it is continuously expanding our reach, increasing the number of programs we offer and the number of people we are able to reach. We want to make an impact whether it is that our members are going back and getting promoted, serving on a nonprofit board for the first time, or mentoring someone.

New this year is our 10-city tour focusing on dismantling biases and inclusive leadership. Each program features three to four executives from various companies in each city sharing stories of biases and challenges they have encountered, and what they are doing as individuals and companies to build inclusive leadership.

And, of course, we are also getting excited for our National Leadership Summit and Gala on April 26 in Chicago where we connect our members and corporate partners, provide ongoing professional development, and create space for important conversations and networking.

About the Author

Jennifer London
Director, Events