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Without Hispanics, America's Corporations Can't Grow and Compete

Without Hispanics, America's Corporations Can't Grow and Compete

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 04, 2015

The cultural demographic shift in the United States is about the workplace and marketplace telling us it’s becoming less about the business defining the individual and more about the individual defining the business.   This is exactly what Hispanics are awakening corporations to, as they begin to recognize that young professionals entering the workforce are in search of the right career and employer who will allow them to be their most authentic selves. This equally holds true to those Hispanic professionals who have been battling the gulf between assimilation and authenticity for years – and are now ready to advance as 21st century leaders by allowing the influence of their cultural values to empower the natural ways they think, act and are motivated to perform at work.

Every 30 seconds, two non-Hispanics hit retirement age and one Hispanic turns 18 years old. According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the Terry School of Business at the University of Georgia, Hispanics will represent 74% of labor force growth by 2020.   However, according to the Center for Hispanic Leadership, Hispanic professionals are only delivering 40% of their full potential at work. With the growing purchasing power of Hispanic consumers that is estimated to reach $1.7T by 2019 (according to the Selig Center), there is urgency to employ and advance more Hispanics into influential leadership roles – where they can help most authentically guide brands to create the most effective strategies to not only attract and develop top Hispanic talent, but capture the growing Hispanic marketplace.

Isn’t it safe to assume that if Hispanics could deliver more of their full potential, their purchasing power would also increase? So what are we waiting for? Perhaps the implications would be better understood if we realized that the combined purchasing power of U.S. Hispanics represents the 16th largest economy in the world.

The rapid growth of the U.S. Hispanic population that is at the forefront of the cultural demographic shift  is requiring corporations and their leaders, across all industries, to think differently about how they can most effectively engage with Hispanic employees and consumers to drive new areas of growth. As such, there is a growing need for senior executives and all levels of leadership to be more culturally competent in an effort to awaken the full potential of the Hispanic workforce and to engage more strategically with Hispanic consumers by building deeper, more meaningful and trustworthy relationships.

Opportunity Gaps Across All Industries   

Healthcare, STEM educators, financial and insurance service providers, automotive, telecommunications, real estate, media & entertainment, retail and consumer brands – all must not only be actively involved in this transformational conversation, but must properly invest to solve for the growing “opportunity gaps” they have unknowingly perpetuated. This is why Hispanics have not historically felt fully engaged in their work — and why consumers have grown tired of being sold by brands who have failed in their approach and intention to relate with and serve their unique needs influenced by their cultural values. This has become clearly evident in the manner in which most corporations have not committed to invest in long-term growth strategies to solve for the widening opportunity gaps, instead focused more on short-term compliance tactics to protect their reputations. As such, Hispanics have grown frustrated, oftentimes feeling undervalued and uncertain about their loyalty and confused about why they should commit their workplace performance and purchasing power to corporations and brands that have yet to fully commit to them in their business models. Perhaps this explains why it has become so difficult for companies to attract and retain top Hispanic talent and why Hispanic marketing efforts often deliver underwhelming results.

The bottom line is that you can’t maximize the full potential of a culturally-driven market segment that is quickly becoming the new mainstream when you still believe that they will assimilate and accept a more general market approach or total market strategy that makes half-hearted efforts to include Hispanics.   These attempts by brands are simply fueling the identity crisis that Hispanics are eager to escape. Perhaps it’s time to accept that assimilation to traditional White-Anglo Protestant values has now given way to America’s new value system that is being redefined by the cultural demographic shift.

Preparing U.S. leadership for this shift requires that corporations and their brands enable the advancement of Hispanics in the workplace and marketplace. By becoming more culturally proficient, together they can authentically lead, innovate, and embrace new competitive advantages to drive growth and innovation.   The key is for corporations to stop ignoring that Hispanics are creating new types of demand across every industry – and begin to gain clarity and understanding of what the shift means, before it’s too late.

This means beginning to solve for:

Widening Opportunity Gaps: convert performance gaps into incremental revenue and new areas of sustainable growth.

Urgent Need to Operationalize the Shift:   defining strategies and solutions in support of new business models to create marketplace distinction.

Stimulate Maximum Engagement: define the full potential of employees, brands and external partnerships to multiply outcomes and strengthen intellectual capital requirements by leading the shift.

This effort will make America’s corporations better equipped and prepared to grow and compete in the industries they serve – while equally contributing towards stimulating economic growth and global competitiveness by most effectively developing an American-bred talent pool that will create new markets, multiply current purchasing power projections and further define America’s future.

Making a Business Case for the Hispanic Opportunity

A special report by The Economist validates this argument while digging deep into the roots of just how much dependency the immediate and long-term future of America is directly linked to a Hispanic population that will represent 30% of the United States by 2050. The report, authored by David Rennie, The Economist’s Washington Bureau Chief, took three month to research and five weeks to write.   It is an excellent depiction of the role and responsibility America’s politicians and business leaders must assume to elevate the human capital potential of U.S. Hispanics if economic growth and global competitiveness is to abound.   Equally, leaders must not only begin to pay closer attention to the data and analytics, but must learn to translate what the numbers and trends really mean to change behavior and attitudes to drive sustainable results – based on the understanding that cultural values influence Hispanics to engage in unique and different ways.

Rather than build bridges to advance the Hispanic population – to make them a stronger force and hold them more accountable, so that Hispanics can contribute to American society for the betterment of their families and the nation at large – politicians and business leaders are creating barriers to advancement that is weakening this juggernaut of a population. Consequently, this is making it more difficult for America’s corporations and the U.S. economy to grow and prosper.

In my recent conversation with David Rennie, I asked him: “Are politicians making it difficult for Hispanics to advance in America?” He answered, “Yes. It is true of both the right and the left.”    Perhaps it’s time to change the conversation and include the voices of emerging and influential Hispanic leaders (and non-Hispanic leaders) that can objectively provide clarity and understanding of the real issues at hand.    Without these voices, the narrative will never change.

As you read The Economist report, it becomes quite clear that this is not a one-sided story with a one-sided solution.   It sends an unwritten message to U.S. Hispanics that they must equally become more accountable to discover and unleash their full potential – whether there are bridges or barriers to advancement.   Hispanics must realize that they can’t wait for anyone but themselves to solve their own challenges (i.e., education, jobs, etc.).

In other words, Hispanics must begin to lead and start to collectively lift each other up – rather than pull each other down, which only creates more barriers to our advancement. Our diverse community must lead together to actively integrate into the fabric of American society if we are to earn the trust of corporate and government leaders.   At the same time, corporate and government leaders must awaken to the realization that the longer they ignore or wait to engage with and invest in Hispanics, the more they are putting their businesses and the economy at risk.

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