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Workplace Diversity: The Hispanic Experience

Increasing Influence of Hispanic Consumers and Students in the Marketplace

National Hispanic Heritage Month is From September 15 through October 15. I can think of no better time to look at the issue of workplace diversity. According to 2010 Census data, fifty million Hispanics account for 16 percent of America's population. The total minority population, of which Hispanics are the majority, comes to 36.3 percent. There can be no question that there has been and will continue to be a shifting consumer marketplace and national workforce. This also means we are becoming an increasingly diverse nation. For American businesses, diversity in the workplace has become part of mission statements, business strategies, hiring policies, and community outreach.

 According to HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business, Inc., the purchasing power of Hispanics alone was put at $1 trillion in 2010, and is expected to increase to $1.3 trillion by 2015. Each September since 2005, Hispanic-Business magazine signals out the best companies for their diversity policies with respect to the Hispanic community. Here is the list for 2011.

  1. AT&T
  2. Verizon Communications
  3. Pacific Gas & Electric
  4. Southern California Edison
  5. Comerica Bank
  6. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  7. Bank of America
  8. McDonald's Corp.
  9. Union Bank
  10. Marriott International Inc.

It's nice to see so many familiar names on the list. AT&T's policy is to "lead from the top and embed diversity and inclusion" into the fabric of the business. AT&T placed in the top half of corporations for diversity retention and promotion; 16 percent of AT&T's new hires last year were Hispanic. Perhaps not surprisingly, once a company gets its foot in the door in a specific community, young people tend to gravitate to job opportunities at those  companies.

To make the most of their minority recruiting efforts, the most successful employers use a variety of methods and diligently work to promote these initiatives on college campuses. Many employers are reaching out to Hispanic students by sponsoring career fairs and other events on campus, attending recruiting events and even offering scholarships to Hispanic students. Companies are also connecting with students through professional societies such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting.

Students should be searching the Internet job boards, both the big ones as well as niche boards that match either their career functions, locations or diversity. LatPro, for example, is a niche diversity job board for Hispanic and bilingual professionals.

Despite promising advances in many areas, Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in a variety of professions. The fields employers mention the most include science, information technology, engineering and healthcare (especially nurses and physicians with Spanish language skills).

The reasons are varied and complex, but multicultural students are simply not entering these fields in great enough numbers. Hispanic businesses should encourage students to pursue these fields by increasing scholarships to ease the financial burden of advanced education, as well as promoting mentorship opportunities to expose young Latinos/Latinas to these career options early on.

Many employers want to see that students are involved in organizations related to their profession, especially those focused on supporting Hispanic professionals within a specific field. For example, accounting students and graduates should consider joining the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA). Other organizations include Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), and the National Society for Hispanic Professionals (NSHP). These organizations are an excellent source for networking opportunities and job leads. An online listing can be found at Another source of networking opportunities is the  Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.

By using multiple strategies, employers can better inform Hispanic students about their corporate diversity initiatives and how their organization values a diverse workforce. Efforts should include employee referral programs, affinity organizations within the company, sponsoring scholarships for Hispanic students, advertising on diversity job boards like, and supporting Hispanic professional organizations within their field.

Recruiting Hispanic students and employees to a company requires that the employer understand the benefit that a diverse workforce brings to the business bottom line. Minority candidates want to know that they are being recruited for their skills and the value they will bring to an organization, versus being a number in a diversity hiring effort.

Hispanics have much to offer with respect to the values of hard work, motivation and drive to succeed. All businesses should take advantage of the growing Hispanic market by treating this consumer group just like any other -- with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on September 30, 2011