The Latino Diversity Impact on Corporate America
Updated: May 15
Latinos have been in the U.S. for quite a long time, and yes before the pilgrims thought of the Americas. The early inhabitants of North America (now United States) were actually the American Indian, the Mexicans (since Mexico extended to what are parts of the United States today), along with the Spaniards who actually arrived here early on and founded the oldest city in the United States, St Augustine.
In addition, you have cities and states that actually have Spanish names which reinforces its historical nature. Names like Colorado, Florida, Los Angeles (not The Angels), San Francisco (not St Francisco), Las Vegas, El Paso, TX, and here in central Florida we have Oviedo, Altamonte Springs, and on and on.
In addition, in the past we have had Latinos, or of Latino decent who have contributed to a variety of discoveries and additions to improving society, not only to America but to the world. The US Patent office recognized their efforts, and the following is just a sampling of their contributions from people like:
1. Fernando Torres from Nicaragua recognized for his work on the automatic selection of SIM cards in Mobile devices.
2. Dr. Luis Von Ahn from Guatemala involved with the Captcha codes.
3. The favorite collapsible Hammock support was invented by Ecuadorian Graciela V.O. de Cuadros.
4. Argentinian Julio Palmaz received a patent for his work on the stent used in cardiovascular work.
5. Elena T. Medo was involved in beginning of the Breast Pump.
6. The Alkaline battery separator was invented by Puerto Rican Olga Gonzalez-Sanabria.
7. The fountain pen was created by Jozsef Biro Laszlo from Argentina.
8. Luis Alejandro Cavallo Caroca from Chile is recognized for his work with the ornamental design corkscrew
9. The Neonatal Artificial Bubble is associated with Claudio Castillon Levano from Peru.
10. Luis Miramontes from Mexico helped create progestin norethindrone which is used in birth control drugs (US Patent Office Hispanic Contributions).
This does not include all of the scientists including astronauts, doctors, educators, executives, judges like Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor, sports figures like Clemente, De La Hoya, and Rodriguez among many, actors like Ricky Ricardo from the past, Andy Garcia, Benicio del Toro, Rita Moreno, Selma Hayek, singers like Marc Anthony, Shakira, Julio Iglesias, PitBull, artists like Picasso and Dali, and entrepreneurs among others. All too many to name here. Last as a veteran I’d be remiss if I did not highlight the thousands of Latinos that have served and died in the American wars in defense of the United States and its interest.
But what is a Latino-really?
Another interesting thing I have observed over time is how Latino’s are stereotyped. Not sure why, but there are those that believe the Latino look is the short Mexican working in the fields or building the homes in this country or putting the roofs on our homes. But the reality is that Latinos while similar in many ways, language being one, are also very diverse when it comes to the look and their culture depending on the respective country they may be from. Latinos irrespective of country are a blend of a Caucasian look due to their European conquerors, they are Black due to the slaves they brought, and Indian due to the Indians that were already in the respective country or Caribbean island. As has been said every election cycle, we are not a monolithic group. The following is just a segment of famous and no so famous representation of the Latino look:
This gives the reader a snapshot of a very rich, energetic, and contributing segment of society that unfortunately lately are seen as just recent immigrants when in reality we’ve been here for some time. So where are we today and so what? What is the current state of the Latino demographic in this country and what does it mean going forward?
Present State of Latino Demographic
There is an estimated 53 million Latinos in U.S. making it the second country in the world with most Latinos only after Mexico. The U.S. is also the second country in the world where Spanish is spoken. From a consumer perspective it represents a $1.7 trillion impact for organizations. If this segment of the U.S. was a country out of the 193 countries it would be 16th in the world from a GDP perspective (Rodriguez, 2007).
Another way to think of this is that the Latino segment of the U.S. has a larger GDP than each of the original four BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, and China and a larger year over year population growth than all four BRIC countries combined (Cartagena, 2013).
This explosive growth is further supported by Dr. Rodriguez in his book where he points out that for every Anglo that dies one is born, but for every Latino that dies, eight are born. Think of this, 1 to 1 vs 1 to 8. These numbers are further supported by the growing and changing demographic of the younger generation, the Millennials. According to Pew Research, Latino Millennials make up 44% of this group, 35% are Black, 30% Asian, and White 25%. Generation Z, the following generation is expected to be even more diverse. It almost seems looks like the future is as diverse for the U.S. as it was when it first started.
So why is this important for the future of U.S. and organizations?
“Without Hispanics, America's Corporations Can't Grow and Compete” (Llopis, 2015). This is the title of the article written in Forbes. In this article Mr. Llopis goes on to point out that as of last year, 2020, Latinos would make up 74% of the labor growth. This is happening when the U.S. has an aging society, 20 million baby boomers were expected to retire by 2020, with not enough workers for the future like the rest of the world with the exception of Mexico and India (Shervani,2005) and a major skills shortage. This skills shortage consists of half a million IT and Computer Science jobs, 700,000 nursing shortage, 200,000 construction jobs, and 600,000 manufacturing jobs. And all of this was occurring before the Pandemic and Social Unrest.
While many still speak about immigration when it comes to Latinos and others, especially with the undocumented in this country, I agree with Mr. Llopis, that immigration is becoming more a part of the past. This is not to say we as a country do not need to fix our immigration issues, this is way overdue, and we have too many Dreamers that have gone onto pursue the American Dream (no pun intended) and contribute to society. So yes, their status issue needs to be resolved as they are already part of the fabric of the American society. But the reality is that most of the younger Latinos in this country are not here illegally.
Fixing the immigration issue provides the U.S. and its corporations an opportunity to focus on the future with a larger segment in society as a consumer and workforce. A workforce that can help with the aging demographic and skill shortage that this country is facing. In addition, this segment of society will also serve as a large consumer base for these organizations.
In addition, diversity has been written about extensively, especially the business case for it. McKinsey recently released a study that showed the likely financial outperformance of organizations when their executive teams had gender and ethnic diversity (Dixon-Fyle, et al, 2019). This is just one of numerous articles and studies highlighting the bottom-line impact for diversity.
The Bottom line
So, the bottom line is, Latino diversity is good for the U.S. for a variety of reasons that include:
1. a workforce perspective because of the aging and retiring present workforce (primarily Anglo) and increasing skills shortage.
2. good business sense from a consumer perspective, especially when this is a growing segment of society and potential client.
3. good overall for a country born out of immigrants. Latino entrepreneurs are growing at a faster rate than any other group.
What might be needed?
1. A true focus and taking advantage of the growing diversity of the country, workforce, and consumer. Recognizing that what worked in the past, will not necessarily work in the future. This means that diversity needs to become a core component of an organization’s human capital strategy. Inclusivity and equity should be part of the organization.
2. Leadership that is not only committed to capitalizing on the growing diverse workforce and consumer, but also modeling it. Organizations, especially at the executive ranks will need to look more diverse going forward and not just give it lip service through value statements on the walls of corporations.
3. On-going education from orientation through leadership and employee development on why diversity is important and how to effectively work within a growing diverse workplace. The orientation piece can help in accelerating the integration of new members to the organization.
4. As a society, we need to ensure we’re creating an environment that enables those that don’t have a way, or know-how, the avenues to pursue an education (college and/or vo-tech of some sort, certification, etc.) and a career for their benefit, their families, and the benefit of society.
Like always, not the end, but really the beginning…