Reaching Latinos: Become self-aware of how corporate cultures are and are not attractive to Latino talent

by Andrés T. Tapia –iStock_4746494XSmall.HispBusTeam

(This article was originally published on my LinkedIn page:

So far I have written about the first of three strategies corporations can use to seize the opportunities offered by the growing Latino talent pools. In the next two posts, I’ll share about strategy #2.

Strategy 2: Become self-aware of how corporate cultures are and are not attractive to Latino talent

Latino and European American cultures differ in some pretty fundamental ways, and corporate cultures often follow suit. Simply put, the average European American corporate world is not all that inviting to many Latinos.

According to a 2013 poll over 75 percent of Latinos feel people with their background are discriminated against in the form of not being hired or promoted for a job and being called names or insulted. We can’t continue to ignore the I-can’t-believe-it’s-still-true-in-2015 reality of pernicious discrimination.

But, there are also problematic cultural differences that create barriers to healthy Latino representation at all levels of an organization even when ugly discrimination is vanquished.

Cultural differences are more an Issue than most admit.

In Latino Talent: Effective Strategies to Recruit, Retain and Develop Hispanic Professionals, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, president of DRR Advisors, writes, “Along with discrimination, Latinos are also the victim of common negative stereotypes including being perceived as being too passive and lacking the conviction necessary to be a good manager, and of being too emotional to fill leadership positions. These stereotypes often are the result of a lack of understanding about how cultural principles and traditions common in the Latino community impact actions and behaviors.”

Let’s unpack Dr. Rodriguez’ assertion about cultural differences. But first, let’s have a crash primer on how to talk about culture comparisons. We are going to compare archetypes—the general tendency of a particular group to behave in certain ways without falling into stereotype, the assumption these tendencies are true for every member of the group. Sociologists and interculturalists have been able to trace the normative, bell curve behavior of groups fully recognizing there are many who, for a variety of reasons, do not adhere to these group norms.

So, archetypically speaking, let’s compare and contrast some of the many ways the normative behavior of Latino and European American cultures differ:

  • Sense of identity. For European Americans the value of individualism, where their sense of identity will more likely come from the self, contrasts with that of many Latinos who tend to be more group or community focused, where their sense of identity may come more from whom they belong.
  • Ascribing status. Latinos can be more hierarchical compared to the more egalitarian European American approach.
  • Getting work done. European Americans can tend to focus more on the tasks at hand to get the work done versus Latinos who tend to place greater importance on relationships.
  • Managing emotions. We all have them but Latino culture tends to value showing emotions while European American culture tends to value restraining the display of emotion.
  • Determining what is fair. European Americans tend to seek reassurance in the rules, while Latinos tend to be more comfortable with exceptions as they seek to address the uniqueness of each situation.
  • Belief of what can be controlled and managed. There is a prevalent European American belief that one can dominate the environment and external circumstances (“God helps those who help themselves”) versus the more common default stance by many Latinos that things may be out of our hands (“Dios quiere” or God willing)
  • Time management. European Americans tend to be ruled more by the clock whereas Latinos more by the event they are in.

These then are some significant differences that, at their most benign expression, lead to interesting cocktail reception conversation. But, applied to business, these points of view actually become the assumptions on which talent and leadership program competencies, development, and performance assessment get built.

For example, the career advancement assumption that each employee owns and can manage the creation of their own development plan. (I will elaborate on this on upcoming posts.)



Andrés Tapia is a Senior Partner at Korn Ferry International, a premier global provider of talent management solutions. Previously he served as President of Diversity Best Practices, the preeminent diversity and inclusion thinktank and consultancy. Prior to Diversity Best Practices, he served as Hewitt’s Chief Diversity Officer and Emerging Workforce Solutions Leader. As a published writer and prominent speaker, Andrés offers thought-provoking views about diversity’s impact around the world. He is the author of The Inclusion Paradox – 3rd edition: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity. Find his bio here.


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