An entire powerful and untapped population of loyal and talented workers stands ready to add value to organizations across the U.S. This group is equipped and prepared to benefit every known industry and market sector. For this labor force to be unleashed, all that needs to happen is that they are given the opportunity.
For the purpose of developing culturally relevant recruitment and retention strategies, this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the untapped potential that the Hispanic/Latino workforce brings to U.S. organizations. The commentary that follows will address how the Hispanic/Latino workforce can assist with the three most problematic situations that organizations must contend with: 1) organizational structures and their suitability to execute strategic priorities; 2) the identification of market opportunities and the ability to act quickly to seize them; and 3) how organizations can quickly respond to market disruptions.
The U.S. is undergoing a significant demographic transition, with multi-ethnic individuals accounting for a substantial portion of the population and workforce, including the Hispanic/Latino and Millennial generations (Zong & Batalova, 2016). As a result, Hispanic/Latino Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are becoming an increasingly influential and powerful segment of the U.S. workforce. Yet businesses and academic institutions have given far too little attention to the successful recruitment, retention, and integration of Hispanic/Latino workers.
Since March 2021, the U.S. has seen historic levels of workers quitting their jobs, a phenomenon now being referred to as the "Great Resignation." With an average of nearly 4 million Americans leaving each month, 2021 holds the all-time record for resignations (SHRM, 2022). As a result, robust recruitment and retention strategies are more essential than ever.
A better understanding of Hispanic/Latino workers will inform organizations to assist them in boosting their recruitment and retention of this vital workforce segment.
A demographic overview of the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population
Representing 62 million individuals and making up 18.73% of the total U.S. population as of 2020, Hispanics/Latinos are a growing and prominent population (Lopez et al., 2019; Noe-Bustamante, 2019; U.S. Census Bureau, 2017b; U.S. Census Bureau, 2019b).
Although Hispanics/Latinos are identified as one population, the diversity within this demographic segment is significant. Accounting for the 30 reportable U.S. Census Bureau "Hispanic" ethnicities, the Mexican ethnicity is the most significant percentage of U.S. Hispanics/Latinos (62%), followed by Puerto Ricans (8.6%) and Hispanics/Latinos from various Central American countries (9.3%) (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d.-c; U.S. Census Bureau, 2019b). Cultural traditions and traits vary between Hispanic/Latino ethnicities, though all are uniquely united by the Spanish language (Johnson et al., 2011).
U.S. Hispanic/Latino values and cultural drivers (scripts)
Hispanic/Latino values and beliefs play a significant role in their behaviors and identity. Therefore, understanding this population's distinctive cultural features is necessary to facilitate further knowledge to continue supporting Hispanics/Latinos in the workforce (Stone et al., 2006).
As a population, Hispanics/Latinos value and maintain stronger relational and group-oriented bonds within their population than non-Hispanic populations (Baeza et al., 2018; Guerrero & Posthuma, 2014). Viewing each other as essential individuals of the group, the Hispanic/Latino collectivistic culture will readily prioritize the family's needs and demands over their own (Baeza et al., 2018; Stone et al., 2006). Tied to this self-sacrificing value is the strong identification and bond each person holds with immediate and extended family portraying feelings of loyalty, mutuality, dependence, and unity (Sabogal et al., 1987; Villarreal et al., 2005). Familism, also referred to as Familismo, is a vital cultural factor where members understand the cohesive bond and have the ability to seek help at any time rather than turning to external support systems (Sabogal et al., 1987; Valdivieso-Mora et al., 2016; Villarreal et al., 2005).
Qualitative dissertation research by Dr. Patricia Conde-Brooks, a Co-Founder of the El Puente Institute, focuses on Latina Leadership. In her dissertation titled, Recognizing La Cultura: The Experience of Cultural Scripts in Latina Leadership, Dr. Conde-Brook's research revealed that, in different ways, cultural identity and firsthand experiences could be catalytic in informing leadership approaches and trajectories (Conde-Brooks, 2020).
The Cultural Drivers (scripts) researched included:
Familismo: the importance of close, protective, and extended family relationships
Marianismo: gender roles according to which women are expected to be selfless, self-sacrificing, and nurturing
Personalismo: creating personal and meaningful relationships
Colectivismo: the importance of belonging to a group and recognizing the needs of that group
Respeto: high regard granted to persons because of their formal authority, age, or social power
Simpatía: promoting pleasant interactions and positive relationships while avoiding conflict and disharmony
Dr. Conde-Brooks emphasizes that "culturally relevant leadership development needs to be encouraged in the Latino community," meaning integrating cultural assets as fuel in the leadership journey (Conde-Brooks, 2020).
Robust growth in the Hispanic/Latino workforce
From 2018 to 2028, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects that the Hispanic/Latino labor force will increase by 7.4 million, which is more than any other race, ethnicity, sex, or age group (Torpey, 2019). By 2025, one in every two workers will be Hispanic/Latino (Coulombe & Gil, 2016). In addition, the Hispanic/Latino population of workers, who are predominantly younger, have a median workforce age of 27 versus the non-Hispanic/non-Latino workforce age of 37 (Coulombe & Gil, 2016).
The significant growth and influence of Hispanics/Latinos and Hispanic/Latino millennials are shaping America's national racial-ethnic and generational profile. This group now represents a considerable consumer buying power and a majority representation of youthful and permeant workers (Eisenach, 2016; Erickson, 2014; Fienup et al., 2020).
As corporate leaders begin to reshape how organizations manage employee recruitment and retention strategies, it is in their best interest to stay vigilant regarding how the Hispanic/Latino population shifts foundational economic and organizational principles (Coulombe & Gil, 2016; Roman, 2015). The power of this population can and will impact society and organizations in numerous ways. Organizations can harness this power – the power of an entire loyal, dedicated, and talented population.
Naturalization Trends in the United States - AUGUST 10, 2016 - SPOTLIGHT - Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova - www.migrationpolicy.org/article/naturalization-trends-united-states-2016
How Historic Has the Great Resignation Been? - March 9, 2022 - SHRM - www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/interactive-quits-level-by-year.aspx - Chart: Mauro Whiteman - Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
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