Diversity by Design
The Power of Hispanic Inclusion:
Cultural Competence For Business Results
By Judith L. Turnock
Latinos today represent 15% of the U.S. population, the fastest-growing segment for five decades. By 2050, the Latino population is expected to reach 25%. Because Latinos have the highest employment rate of any U.S. non-white group and their purchasing power is already almost $1 trillion, their power as consumers will only continue to grow.
As 76 million baby boomers retire over the next two decades, the U.S. will experience a serious labor shortage: Only one person will be joining the labor force for every two who retire. The rapidly expanding U.S. Latino population, therefore, is a powerful source of labor and intellectual capital, and it has by no means been fully tapped.
How can companies embrace this opportunity? The answer lies in targeted recruitment, retention and leadership development initiatives that incorporate a nuanced understanding of Latino cultures.
Even though the term “Latino” includes people with a wide variation in background, country of origin (of self or ancestors), the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably. Hispanic is widely used on the East Coast and Latino on the West Coast.
The Business Advantage
What began as a legal requirement, a numbers game or “the right thing to do,” has evolved over the last four decades into a widely acknowledged business advantage. The first advantage is greater success reaching new markets at home and abroad. The greater surprise has been the improvement in retention: Ethnic employees are more optimistic about their careers, believe in the value of their contributions and have greater job satisfaction in general.
As the U.S. workforce becomes increasingly diverse and companies rely more and more on foreign markets, corporate America is prepared to leverage diversity at home into cultural flexibility abroad. A company known to value diversity and inclusion internally will also attract and retain the highest-quality talent across ethnicity, race, gender, age and other factors, such as cultures, work styles, lifestyles, management approaches and professional background.
These compelling results have encouraged more and more companies to adopt diversity and inclusion as a core corporate strategy. In short, diversity and inclusion have begun to change corporate culture. U.S. companies are prepared to operate comfortably and effectively throughout the globe. As a core corporate strategy rather than a resented add-on, diversity and inclusion quickly transcends any particular group. What benefits one new group or one new work style benefits all.
To achieve the benefits of strategic diversity and inclusion at your company, you may wish to consider the kind of recruitment, mentoring, career-planning and leadership-development initiatives described below.
“The opportunity to have our stakeholders learn about the best diversity practices allows
HACR to provide its corporate partners with the highest level of support and assistance.”
Manuel Mirabal, Board Chair, HACR
Just as corporate marketers have become adept at “cultural relevance” by adapting advertisement messages to specific market segments, corporate recruiters can apply those same communication tactics to their efforts.
Companies can benefit from investing in training recruiters and hiring managers who are culturally competent in the appropriate cultures, and then ensure that these insights are incorporated into the company’s recruitment programs. For example, a recruiter or hiring manager who provides personal anecdotal information in a culturally relevant manner during an interview will allow ethnic candidates to relax and become more forthcoming in such interactive sessions.
Members of existing Latino em-ployee groups can be tapped to disseminate information about available jobs, suggest promising candidates, assist at job fairs and visit campuses to recruit students. Many companies have also learned that highlighting Latino diversity on a company’s Web site — even offering sections in Spanish — helps to attract top talent.
No matter how successful recruitment becomes, no bottom-line benefits will accrue unless the employees commit to maximum performance and remain with the company that hired them. Some suggestions for retaining talented Latinos include: considering team assignments; rewarding teams instead of individuals for results; investing personal interest in employees; accepting an employee’s decision not to relocate without damage to the individual’s career; and turning to a Latino employee network group for feedback on corporate responsibility strategies.
An important aspect of any leadership development program is the ability for all employees to gain a thorough understanding of the individual company’s corporate culture. This is essential to an employee’s success, particularly for employees who have not previously worked in a corporate environment.
Targeted Latino recruitment, retention and leadership development builds a company’s cultural flexibility, a necessary skill as the U.S. workforce becomes increasingly diverse. It is also the perfect precursor to understanding the increasingly different cultures and languages essential to continued business success in the changing marketplace.
MGM MIRAGE, a global hospitality company, is already successful at recruiting and retaining Latino talent; 12% of its positions at and above manager level are Latino, and roughly one-fourth of its total dollar expenditures on non-white vendors and construction contractors go toward Latino workers. Many Latino employees — as well as all others — have benefited from development programs such as REACH, through which chefs are trained, and MGM Mirage University, which enhances technical and behavioral business skills, offers degree programs and provides leadership opportunities.
For more than two decades, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), a coalition of 13 national Hispanic organizations, has been the driving force advocating for Hispanic inclusion throughout all aspects of Corporate America’s operations. Along with its 39 corporate members, HACR focuses its attention on inclusion in four areas: employment, procurement, philanthropy and governance.
The results of the ongoing efforts are shared at HACR’s Annual Symposium. This year more than 250 individuals gathered in New York City for a range of sessions under the theme, The Power of Hispanic Inclusion. “The opportunity to have our stakeholders learn about the best diversity practices,” explained Manuel Mirabal, HACR’s board chair, “allows HACR to provide its corporate partners with the highest level of support and assistance.”
The high point of the symposium was the CEO Roundtable, which featured Richard D. Parsons, Time Warner Inc. board chair; Kenneth A. Burdick, president and chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare; Joe Uva, chief executive officer of Univision Communications Inc.; Peter Swinburn, president and chief executive officer of Coors Brewing Company (now Molson Coors Brewing Company); and Edward B. Rust, Jr., State Farm Insurance Companies board chair and chief executive officer.
The discussion centered on the bottom-line contribution of inclusion. “As a leading media and entertainment company,” declared Parsons, “we know absolutely that cultural diversity — of our content, products and people — is a business imperative.” Rust went further, recognizing that “diversity cannot be a program, but must be a state of mind that helps us better serve our customers and understand the marketplace.”
HACR President and Chief Executive Officer Carlos F. Orta concluded the symposium, “We’re proud every year to bring together CEOs of companies that value Hispanic inclusion in all aspects of their operations.”
Produced by Gloria I. Lerner • Edited by Allison Lurker • Designed by Jon Prinsky