ARLINGTON, Va.-– The National Hispanic Corporate Council announced the development of a leadership training program for mid-level Hispanic managers working in Fortune 1000 companies. The NHCC Corporate Executive Development Program (CEDP) will offer training and networking opportunities to high-potential Hispanic managers seeking their first executive management role in association with SMU’s Cox business school.

Although the U.S. Hispanic market – 47 million strong – represents the nation’s largest ethnic minority, gaps in representation continue to exist within U.S. companies. According to a recent survey by the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility, Hispanic managers are significantly underrepresented in executive and senior executive positions. In addition, an analysis by the Human Resource consulting firm PDI suggests a disparity in the upward mobility to higher level executive positions between non-Hispanic managers and their Hispanic peers.

They observed that although Hispanic managers reach mid-level management positions faster than their peers, they are slower to climb to higher levels within their companies.

“We believe that upper mobility of Hispanics within U.S. corporations presents both a challenge and an opportunity to companies and the emerging Hispanic leader,” said Yolanda Medina Casey, NHCC Chair and Project Manager in the Visual Merchandising Division for Hallmark Cards, Inc. “Together with our member companies, we have identified the need for a leadership training program to enhance development of Hispanic managers for strategic leadership positions within their companies.”

The NHCC selected SMU because of its national reputation and strategic location.

SMU Cox is also situated in Texas, a high growth region for corporate headquarters and center of commerce in the U.S., with more corporations based in Texas than in any other state in the nation. This geographic concentration of headquarters located in high density Hispanic cities, will fuel the pipeline with future Hispanic leaders. In the coming months, SMU Cox Executive Education will begin developing the infrastructure and curriculum for the NHCC CEDP.

“SMU’s Cox School of Business has assembled some of the nation’s top faculty and business leaders to create a program that will expand the pipeline of Hispanic leaders and their firms’ access to a growing market,” said R. Gerald Turner, president of Southern Methodist University. “Cox Executive Education specializes in turning high-potential employees into high-performing executives. The collaboration with NHCC will focus Cox’s strengths on preparing Hispanic employees to assume the highest levels of corporate responsibility in the very best companies. SMU is honored to be entering into this partnership.”

“Hosting the NHCC Corporate Executive Development Program at Cox is a natural fit for us because of our ongoing commitment and proven record of developing successful business leaders,” said Albert W. Niemi, Jr., dean, SMU Cox. “We are proud of our role in helping Hispanic managers who are on the cusp of advancing their careers.”

The NHCC collaborated with senior executives in talent management in Fortune 100 corporations and human resource associations seeking to address Hispanic representation at senior management levels to design a leadership training program aimed to complement existing corporate leadership and MBA programs. This steering committee included senior level HR executives from Coca Cola, Hyatt Hotels, Shell Oil, Sprint Nextel, State Farm, Walmart and the Society for Health Resource Management (SHRM).

“With the rapidly growing Latino/Hispanic consumer market in the U.S. and the increasing demand for global leadership, the need for breakthrough leadership development for talented Latino corporate executives has become critical,” said David Gonzales, member of the Board of Advisors, SMU Meadows School of the Arts. “I am proud to be involved in the development of the nation’s premier leadership development institute for the next generation of Latino executives, as we help place them at the forefront of their industries.”