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Over 100 professionals in the Philadelphia area attended ‘Closing the Gap,’ a business diversity conference, at The Community College of Philadelphia Center for Business and Industry. Aja Beech
Over 100 professionals in the Philadelphia area attended ‘Closing the Gap,’ a business diversity conference, at The Community College of Philadelphia Center for Business and Industry. Aja Beech

The diversity of Latino business

Diversity within Latino and Hispanic communities was the highlight of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce ‘Closing the Gap’ event.

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Over 100 professionals in the Philadelphia area attended ‘Closing the Gap,’ a business diversity conference, at The Community College of Philadelphia Center for Business and Industry. The conference focused on three specific points for local businesses; Marketing to Hispanics, Hiring Latino Professionals, and Contracting Latino Businesses.

Founded in1990, The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC) supports Hispanic businesses by helping them navigate local and federal government agencies and regulations, and facilitating a network of Hispanic professionals that can learn from one another. 

Panelists and speakers included: Paul Lima, Managing Partner at Lima Consulting; Mauro Panzera, Adjunct professor of International Marketing, Global Business and International Management at University of Delaware; Andres Romero, Marketing Manager and Brand Activation at Campbell Soup Company; Jose Velez Silva, Vice President of Multicultural Marketing Communications at Comcast; Ron Davis, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Parx Casino; Brenda Soto, adjunct professor at Wilmington University’s College of Business; Pedro Rodriguez, City of Philadelphia, Office of Human Resources; Natily Santos, Regional Sourcing & Supplier Diversity Lead at Aramark; Erica Patterson, Director, Contracts Management & Supplier Diversity at Philadelphia Gas Works; and Arturo Perez, Senior Category Manager, Procurement Services at Princeton University.  

In her opening remarks, Jennifer Rodriguez, President and CEO of GPHCC, said “Our work involves closing gaps in understanding about who Latinos are and closing the gaps in outcomes for Hispanic professionals and Latino owned businesses.” She said. “We have Latino experts in every field but often we do not know who they are.”

Paul Lima, GPHCC Board Member, and Managing Director of the international Lima Consulting Group, was the marketing workshop moderator and informed the audience about work the GPHCC has done on research on the State of Hispanic Business, which can be found on their website. When Lima joined the GPHCC in 2004, the number of Hispanic businesses in the greater Philadelphia area was about 5,000. Now there are over 18,000 Hispanic Businesses locally. Of course, these businesses are not just for Hispanics. They provide services to the entire city.

Many conversations at ‘Closing the Gap’ revolved around how Latino culture is not unilateral; that there is tremendous diversity within Latino Culture. Andres Romero, Marketing Manager and Brand Activation at Campbell Soup Company said that, with the positive growth of Hispanics and Latinos globally, thinking about Latino population as a minority will soon go away. Doing away with the idea of minority versus majority is good for every business in America and abroad.

“Whereas before people in marketing would talk about first generation, second generation and assimilation and what that means,” Romero said, “it is a concept that is definitely outdated. Truly understanding the complexity, understanding the individual,” is a significant goal he said. That translates to selling products, creating jobs, and transforming society.

 

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