In honor of Hispanic/Latino Heritage

latino heritage

Human Intelligent (HI) Workplace
Helping Leaders Help Themselves

November 11, 2020

This month the U.S. recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month. In doing so, I thought I’d share some information to highlight why this might be important for this country today and going into the future. From a historical perspective, it is important to remember that parts of the U.S. belonged to Mexico. Hence, this is why we have states named Colorado (Red in Spanish), or San Jose (not Saint), San Fransisco, Los Angeles (not The Angles) and the first city discovered in this country was by the Spaniards, San (not Saint) Augustine, discovered long before the pilgrims thought of coming to America.

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When it comes to growth and numbers of Latinos in the United States, it has grown dramatically over the last few years. To put their numbers in perspective consider the following:

  1. There is an estimated 60 million Latinos in the U.S. This makes the U.S. second only to Mexico with most Latinos. There are 20 Latin American countries in addition to the Caribbean islands and Spain. The U.S. is also the second country in the world where Spanish is spoken.
  2. The spending power of Latinos is almost $2 trillion, which if it was a country it would be 10th in the world out of 193 countries from a GDP perspective. When the Latino population is compared to the BRIC countries, the Latino year-over-year (YOY) population growth was stronger than all four countries combined at 3.2%. These countries with the exception of India are aging. What is keeping America young are the changing demographics. When you look at the Millennial growth, Latinos make up 44%, followed by African Americans at 35%, Asians at 30%, and Anglos at 27%. This supports further the case of growth and the changing workforce. This became a reality recently in that Latinos became the majority of entrants into the workforce in 2017.
  3. The average age of Latinos in America is 27 compared to the average age of non-Latinos being 40. Add to this that for every non-Latino that dies, one is born. For every Latino that dies eight are born. This has implications from a worker, consumer, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) perspective. This point was reinforced in a recent Forbes article titled: “Without Hispanics, America’s Corporations Can’t Grow and Compete”.
  4. Executive representation among Fortune 500 is poor with only nine Latino CEOs as of 2015. The senior executive ranks are not much better. Unfortunately, this is also similar with women and African Americans at the CEO level. This presents an interesting contradiction, with so much emphasis being made for DEI. In addition, when it comes to small businesses, Latinos are making their mark. As recent as this year, Latino businesses grew by 34% compared to everyone else that grew by 1%. There is an estimated 4.4 million Latino owned businesses in the U.S. contributing more than $700 billion to the economy annually. However, the Covid pandemic has hit businesses hard, especially the Latino businesses.
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So what can or should be done:

  1. First, understand Latinos are not a monolithic group even though they have similarities. Even in the Spanish language, depending on the country words have different meanings and food is different. Thinking Latinos are all the same is like saying an American born and raised in Biloxi, MS is similar to one raised in New York City, Iowa, or San Diego, CA. While there are similarities, there are differences.
  2. Latinos are dealing in a bilingual and bicultural environment. They carry their Latino heritage while working to adapt to the American way of getting things accomplished and pursuing their career or professional aspirations. Take advantage of this dual perspective as you consider your strategic plan and look to market to this growing consumer segment.
  3. As a country and consumer driven society, recognize Latinos are making an economic impact. They are also a large consumer force, so create a strategy to market to them. In addition, the slim representation in the senior executive ranks in large corporations is something organizations need to address, in addition to just having the diversity term as part of their organizational values and marketing information.
  4. Latinos are the largest millennial segment in the U.S. This means this demographic will be part of society and organizations for a long time. Ensure as an organization you are recruiting, retaining, developing, promoting, and marketing to this growing segment of the U.S. society.

In closing, Latinos have been a presence and have been making and leaving their mark in the U.S. for a long time, from the military, to the arts, to all types of organizations and industries. They will continue to be part of the U.S. going forward along with being part of the organizations they work for as they pursue their American Dream.

Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month should not be only about our music, food, and colorful artifacts. In addition, is should be about learning about our contributions and ensuring they are part of your organization, not only at the customer service rep level, but also in the C suite.

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Regarding making their mark, let us not forget that one of the most famous and recognized holiday/Christmas songs in the U.S. is Feliz Navidad, by a blind Puerto Rican named Jose Feliciano.

Saludos and Happy Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month.

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