When it comes to the workplace, where are the Latinx?
What gets left behind on the quest for career advancement?
In the early days of my career, I came across an ad in a magazine that made an impact on me. I tore out the page and posted it to my office wall where it elicited a reaction from most people who noticed it. It remained there until the day I packed up and left for another job.
The ad was for a market research firm. It showed the photograph of a blue sky sprinkled with a few white fluffy clouds. A hole was cut in the middle of the photo. Then down below the caption said something to the effect that 20% of the picture you’re missing could be the most critical data point.
The cut-out portion was placed at the very bottom. Like the missing piece of a puzzle, it had the same blue skies and cotton-like clouds but in front of them was a UFO in full view. That’s right, an alien space ship! The cautionary message applies to just about any area of life or business.
For U.S. employers the part they are missing is the repressed personas that one in four Latinx employees feel they cannot bring to work.
According to a study by the Center for Talent Innovation downplaying who they are, modifying their appearance, their body language, their communication style, and their leadership presence are a behavior they feel is necessary for advancement. Major companies may base decisions on a blue-sky scenario that does not represent or do justice to the richness contained within their workforce.
During the recent We Are All Human Hispanic Leadership Summit in Chicago, founder Claudia Romo Edelman pulled no punches addressing this issue in her remarks:
“I don’t want my kids to make half of the salary only because they are Hispanic and I don’t want my kids actually to be the last in the corner, to be invisible to employers because they are Hispanic."
Neither do the 54 million Latinos whose growth in population and spending power seems to elude diversity and inclusion HR professionals who tend to overlook Latinx when filling senior-level executive positions and board seats.
According to the book “Auténtico: The Definitive Guide to Latino Career Success,” Latinos held just over 7 percent of board seats and a little more than 4 percent of executive officer positions, a number the author labels “the 4 percent shame."
We Are All Human (WAAH) was founded in 2018; the organization’s stated mission is to advance the agenda of equity, inclusion, and representation.
Claudia Romo Edelman, of Swiss-Mexican descent, moved to the U.S. five years ago from Mexico. Perhaps it was her fresh-eye take on the status quo in this, her new country, which compelled her to set up a non-profit organization that would address issues of inequity.
Claudia explains: “The world is pretty diverse, but we have to make an effort to make it inclusive so we can achieve equity. By focusing on the universal values that make us all human, we can reach common ground, eliminate discrimination and achieve a more equitable society.”
This woman on a mission’s accelerated pace has yielded acceptable results.
To date, some 45 companies have signed WAAH’s Hispanic Promise, which was introduced during the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It is a call made for major US employers to step up their recruitment, advancement, and retention of Latinx employees while celebrating their culture.
The signatory companies run the gamut from tech, media and communications to financial, hospitality and manufacturing. The list includes major employers such as Aflac, TV Azteca, Microsoft, Nielsen, and Unilever. Not bad for a mission that kicked off in October of 2018 with a call to mobilize made during WAAH’s first Latino Leadership Summit held at the United Nations.
Still, with this auspicious beginning, the journey ahead is long, and for change to really take hold, it will take a collective voice of unity.
But the time may be right for a scaled effort that brings together advocacy groups, business leaders and corporation assigning roles and responsibilities to each. And perhaps, most importantly, holds stakeholders accountable.
Looking into the future Claudia’s optimism holds an understandable apprehension: “It is possible to achieve sustainable development goals; however, one thing does concern me. Unfortunately, the divisive language is getting more traction, and we are bombarded with negative news all the time.”
On the upside, a growing number of endorsers have come on board to support the Hispanic Promise, among them Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR); Hispanic C-Suite Corporate Council (HC3); Hispanic Heritage Foundation, all together they make up over a dozen groups whose work impacts millions of Latinos in the US.
This unification of Latinos may be what it takes to put the full picture back together and allow not only Latinos but every minority group to feel accepted for their whole selves instead of who others think they should be.