Blog Post

How Corporations Can Benefit from Latino Cultural Assets

By Robert Rodriguez and PhD & Andrés T. Tapia
December 4, 2018

“Diversity leads to greater business performance,” is a mantra among D&I practitioners.

But how does it really happen? As hard as it is to get more diversity in the door it can be harder still to activate that diversity to make an impact on the organization.

One of the keys is to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which people who come from traditionally underrepresented groups are different in their thinking and behaviors from those in the majority. Only with this understanding can managers and team members begin to figure out the alternative ways to approach new, as well as common, challenges in new ways.

In our book, “Auténtico,” we summarized ways in which Latino culture is different than that of mainstream corporate American culture. These insights will provide a starting point from which to consider new approaches to cultivating talent and leveraging that talent to drive change.

A More Collectivist Workplace

Today’s complex, hyper-interconnected and volatile world demands fewer individualistic superheroes and more group collaboration across various platforms, countries, disciplines, skills and backgrounds. In Auténtico, we described how Latinos tend to be more focused on the success of the group versus the success of the individual. The American workplace’s worship of the individual can be fraught with an internal competitiveness and lack of collaboration that can hinder optimizing performance. Corporate America could benefit from adopting some of these Latino communal values.

The Latino concern for the collective good can motivate organizations to challenge injustices imposed on the marginalized and under-represented. Whenever companies feel unease when they advocate for equality issues, it can gain strength and resolve by leveraging the existing Latino mindset where the needs of the community supersede any one of our individual company needs.

An Increased Global and Bi-Cultural Perspective

In a vastly diverse world posing both threats and opportunities to business worldwide, having employees with book knowledge and finely-honed skills and competencies will not be enough. The systemic disruption taking place in every industry requires alternative ways of seeing, interpreting, and of devising responses.

Latino biographies, in all their complexity and richness, when embraced and understood, can be mined by the individuals themselves to offer this differentiated perspective. Latinos who have worked through their cultural identity are also very well positioned to better understand the similar journeys millions of customers and thousands of coworkers face as they seek products, services and meaningful work.

The ability to move effectively in various different cultural environments is one that many Latinos are adept at. However, they have tended to leverage this to effectively fit in and be accepted in each of these often-separated environments. But what happens when they bring their ways of being from one cultural environment into another? What is the impact when they are able to skillfully introduce new behaviors and skills into a cultural environment that has not been inclusive of this way of working in the past?

Because ours is a history shaped by twenty-two different nations, Latinos epitomize what it means to be global. We provide to corporate America the ideal archetype of what a global leader must convey. Ours is a community with a rich history of bringing globally diverse groups together to construct a collective identity. In today’s diverse and global construct, this essential facility is a unique gift offered by Latinos.

Organizations Must Adopt to and Capitalize on Latino Cultural Assets

As demographic trends predict, the workforce of the future is going to have an increasingly Latino identity. Thus, it only makes sense that companies will need to be more open to adjusting some of their corporate culture to be more adaptive to Latinos as opposed to the current unilateral approach of requiring Latinos to adjust to the current dominant culture.

This must be accompanied by true development and advancement opportunities for Latinos. Without more Latinos in the executive ranks and influential roles, not only will the Latino community suffer, so will corporations if they don’t reflect at all levels of the organization a nation that will be one-third Latino by 2050.

Here are five actions corporations can take:

  1. Become deeply knowledgeable of Latino culture and values and stop pressing Latinos to assimilate and instead look to create the conditions that nurture Latino professional success, incorporate some Latino ways into your corporate culture and stop trying to “fix” Latinos.
  2. Aggressively accelerate Latino leadership development holistically through internal and/or external leadership development programs, mentorship and sponsorship, but most importantly through developmental stretch assignments.
  3. Differentiate among the various Latino talent pools and segmented markets in ways that are as rigorous and sophisticated as marketing campaigns. There is no one Latino talent force in the same way there is no one Latino market.
  4. Encourage your highest-ranking Latino leaders and executives to work together to advance the Latino talent agenda through a Latino officer caucus or roundtable.
  5. Provide opportunities for Latinos to influence major corporate and commercial strategic initiatives.

These five actions will go a long way in getting the most of your Latino talent in ways that are good for the organization and good for a growing part of your diverse talent pool.

Dr. Robert Rodriguez, is President of DRR Advisors LLC, a consulting firm specializing in Latino talent management programs. Besides being a co-author of Auténtico, Dr. Rodriguez is also the author of “Latino Talent: Effective Strategies to Recruit, Retain & Develop Hispanic Professionals.”

Andrés Tapia is a Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry Hay Group. He is a leading voice in shaping a next-generation approach to diversity & inclusion. Besides being a co-author of Auténtico, Andrés is also the author of The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity.”

About the Authors

Robert Rodriguez
PhD & Andrés T. Tapia