Posts tagged ‘Hispanic’
I’m often asked by clients what Hispanic professional organizations serve as good resources for employers. Although there is no shortage of exceptional Hispanic professional organizations, I wanted to share information on a few organizations that I’ve worked with over the years that can provide a variety of help. While many of these Hispanic professional organizations are often utilized to help recruit Hispanic college graduates, many of these same organizations can also offer employers excellent support once Hispanic interns are brought on board. Employers can benefit by partnering with these organizations to provide networking, training, and workshop opportunities for their interns and other employees. They can provide management advice as well as internship program suggestions. If you have a Hispanic professional organization to recommend, please share it!
Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA): As the leading professional organization for Hispanics in the finance and accounting fields, ALPFA is an exceptional resource for employers in this area. ALPFA local chapters offer workshops and symposiums in partnership with other organizations on topics related to Hispanics in this industry.
Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE): Serving as a link between Hispanic professionals and organizations, HACE provides employers with a variety of helpful programs aimed at educating organizations in the areas of diversity, mentoring, and internship programs. HACE also provides great informational workshops on research regarding Hispanics in the workforce.
National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA): The premier Hispanic organization supporting Hispanic MBAs, NSHMBA’s mission is to improve Hispanic corporate executive representation. It does this by providing education, professional and leadership development through 32 local chapters around the United States. http://www.nshmba.org/
Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Associations (LISTA): This organization is focused on supporting Latinos and employers in the science, mathematics, information sciences, new media, telecommunications, and technology fields. LISTA councils around the United States provide information and trends regarding Hispanics in the technology and science fields.
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE): As a leading organization supporting Hispanics entering engineering, science and other technical professions, SHPE offers both interns and employers numerous resources. Through its Industrial Partner Council (IPC), SHPE partners with employers on ways to increase the representation of Hispanics in the engineering and science fields.
Early in my career, I managed the internship and cooperative education program for the University of Texas at El Paso career center, a campus where over 70% of the student population is Hispanic. As students returned to campus from their work experiences, I spent a lot of time with each of them discussing what he or she had learned from applying their academic knowledge in a practical setting. I’d often ask about their respective projects, supervisors, co-workers, and the cities where they lived. When I asked students about their organization’s culture, a common response went something like “… the people I worked with were like part of a big family.” And while I was delighted to know that student experiences emphasized practical work experience in their area of study, I was just as pleased to see that some employers recognized the importance of “family” to our students. Whether these companies recognized it or not, they had enhanced these students’ internship experiences by tapping an important element of Hispanic culture – familism.
Familism can be described as a cultural characteristic where interests, choices, and activities are formed within the context of a larger network. In most cases, especially in Hispanic culture, this means a family network. If you ask any Hispanic American what is most valued in his or her life, family is usually the first or second choice. Familism is often illustrated as a “belief system” that incorporates loyalty, cooperation, and cohesion towards members of a family or network. Other elements of familism might include duty, support, understanding, and respect. Familism also values principles such as interdependence, camaraderie, and community. One can easily see how these attributes can lend themselves to a work setting.
In organizational environments, particularly internship opportunities, supervisors and interns assume particular roles, which are naturally found in traditional family settings. Hence, in the case of Hispanics, it would make sense to highlight this type of relationship by providing guidance and direction to student interns; mirroring the strong relationships they value in their own family networks. Assure interns are incorporated into all aspects of the department or team to which they’ve been assigned. Give them time to network and get to know everyone with whom they’ll interact. By and large, employers can benefit greatly by extending these family tie concepts into their Hispanic interns’ work environments. Aside from the positive emotional effects, employers will most likely see marked increase in their interns’ performance.
One of the common questions I get asked by organizations and clients I work with is what term do I prefer. “Term?” I ask…“Yes, do you prefer Hispanic or Latino?” is the usual follow-up question. It’s a frequent question and one an employer should consider as well. I don’t have a personal preference when it comes to either, and I tend to use both terms interchangeably as many Hispanics and Latinos that I know do (you see, I did it just there!). I honestly appreciate the question and realize most people are asking in order to use the correct term and to avoid potentially offending others. While many in the Hispanic community share the same perspective that I do, others are still very much prescribed to one term or the other. According to a PEW Hispanic Center survey, 36% of the Hispanic community preferred the term “Hispanic” while 21% preferred the term “Latino.” The remaining respondents in the survey (43%) had no preference or used both terms interchangeably.
The use of each term might also be determined by what region of the United States you are standing in when you say it. Concentrations of the Hispanic population differ by region, for example, there are many more Mexican Americans in Texas and California than there are in Florida, where there are more Cuban Americans. Along the East Coast, you’ll find a higher concentration of Puerto Ricans. In my own experience of living in several areas of the country, I’ve found the term “Latino” most often used on the West and East coasts, and the term “Hispanic” in states like Texas and other parts of the Southwest. Of course, this is just one person’s experience! There continues to be a lot debate within the Hispanic community about what term actually captures the true essence of the population.
Whether it’s Hispanic or Latino, what is common to each perspective is that each term is used to represent a demographic with a common cultural background including characteristics such as language. Employers should be aware, however, that these two terms often do not capture differences in race or ancestry common to the Hispanic population. While Hispanics are often “grouped” to represent a monolithic group on forms such as job applications, the reality is that Hispanics are incredibly heterogeneous. Hispanics originate from European, Latin American, and even African heritage. Hispanics can literally vary from blond and green-eyed to African in physical features.
So what’s the bottom line for employers? Realize that Hispanics are not a homogeneous ethnic group. There is great diversity in their demographic, economic, and social backgrounds. Yet, there are also many similarities in areas such as language, culture, and attitudes. This combined variety and similarity provides employers with an opportunity to leverage their backgrounds and experiences in a work setting.
The rapid expansion of globalization continues to transform American society in a number of ways. We now live and work in an environment that is consistently being influenced by diverse cultures. The same diversity that is changing the American workforce has already transformed many colleges and universities. Students from varying ethnicities and races including Hispanics now constitute a growing part of the student population on many campuses in the United States. It’s a transformation that many colleges and universities are embracing. Hence, it’s logical to assume that much of the diversity found on campuses will continue to spill into the work environment.
Employers of all sizes and from various industries are conscious of this trend. Many employers have already grasped the idea that their organizations’ workforce should reflect the broader demographic and social environment in which they operate. But while diverse representation in organizations is important, just as vital is an employer’s ability to manage this diverse workforce. This creates a new set of challenges for employers including the development of new types of leaders skilled in managing an increasingly multicultural workforce. These new generations of leaders will require the ability to identify, understand and appreciate cultural differences – in other words, to be culturally intelligent.
Cultural Intelligence, or CQ, can be described as a person’s ability to relate effectively with people of different cultural backgrounds. By developing this skill, people are better able to engage, manage, and work with diverse work groups. From a Hispanic intern perspective, CQ can provide considerable value. Take for instance understanding acculturation differences. Acculturation can be described as the process of taking on another culture while keeping aspects of another (original) culture. Studies have demonstrated that Hispanic acculturation levels vary in the United States. Language, for example, is a cultural characteristic many Hispanics hold onto in order to maintain a connection with their heritage, family, and community. On the other hand, English becomes more dominant and important in the workplace or as Hispanics become more acculturated.
Employers who have a greater understanding of CQ and its implications are in a better position to connect and manage Hispanic interns and other interns from differing cultures. Like other intelligences, CQ can be developed in most people with the objective of increasing their confidence in managing employees of different cultures. In future posts, I’ll continue to introduce specific cultural topics and concepts related to Hispanics in the workplace that might impact their values, attitudes, communication, and performance.