Julian Castro, former Mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President Obama, announced this week that he was forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2020. I organized a dinner for Castro on Monday in New York, with my wife Claudia Romo Edelman, after she held the Hispanic Leadership Summit which hosted 350 Latino leaders at the United Nations.
In his announcement, Castro said, “I am very mindful, especially now for the Latino community, that there’s a particular meaning to my candidacy. We cannot go through the 2020 cycle with nobody on the stage because of what’s happened over the last couple of years.” Henry Cisneros, his mentor and predecessor in both Washington and San Antonio, added, “2020 needs to be the year of Latino emergence in American politics.”
But the emergence of Hispanics must coincide with the community’s own recognition of its achievements and potential. According to a survey by the We Are All Human Foundation and our sister firm Zeno Group, 77 percent of the Hispanics surveyed over the summer said that they did not know about the relatively high average income of the Hispanic family ($45,000) nor the names of any Hispanic CEOs (such as Oscar Munoz of United) or the names of Hispanic elected officials (such as Sen. Marco Rubio). The survey also found that nearly a quarter of Hispanics were not planning to vote in coming elections because they did not know their elected officials and did not think that their vote would matter.
There is also a trust crisis with business for the Hispanic population. In short, their expectations of business have not been met. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 showed a spectacular decline of 24 points among Hispanics’ trust in business, from 60 percent to 35 percent, the lowest of any diverse population in our country. In fact, Hispanics’ trust in business is equivalent to their trust in government, hardly a recommendation. Business did not stand up sufficiently on issues such as immigration or education, in sharp contrast to CEO activism on LGBT or trade policy. There are also far too few companies committed to buying from Hispanic entrepreneurs or to professional skills development for this burgeoning community; only 1 percent of tech executives are Hispanic.
One important option for business in bridging the trust gap is to use its brands as a means of recognizing the Hispanic contribution to U.S. society. In Edelman’s Earned Brand research, we found that Hispanics rate at the top of belief-driven buyers who want brands to take a stand on societal issues. In fact, a brand’s stand is 1.5 times more likely to sell a product to Hispanics than its features. Ulta Cosmetics’ found a solution: to buy GlamST, a San Francisco-based company started by Agustina Sartori, a proud Latina, that shows how a product looks on a customer on her phone via augmented reality.
I read Castro’s personal story, “An Unlikely Journey,” last weekend. It is a deeply moving book that begins with the tale of his grandmother, who walked across the Mexico-U.S. border to Texas at age seven to live with a remote relative in San Antonio. His mother was a political activist in her 20s, working with the Young Democrats, running unsuccessfully for City Council. Her twin boys, Julian and Joaquin, were arch rivals and best friends, competing fiercely in tennis, school and even in dating. After earning scholarships to Stanford and Harvard Law School, the twins went into politics, with Julian running for City Council and Joaquin for State Legislature. He talks about his first winning election to the Council and the pride of his mother, who paved the way. In his speech to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Castro described the American Dream as a relay, “in which one person sacrifices for the success of later generations.” He is entirely correct in asserting that the immigrant experience is inextricably woven into the American experience and that immigrants are the country’s greatest asset for future prosperity.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.