Reaching Latinos: Understand and Embrace the Multidimensional Diversity Within the Latino Community

by Andrés T. Tapia – Mixed group of nations behind the American flag.

(This article was originally published on my LinkedIn page:

In my previous post, I mentioned three strategies corporations can use to seize the opportunities offered by the growing Latin talent pools. We’ll begin by discussing the first strategy in more depth.

Strategy 1: Understand and embrace the multidimensional diversity within the Latino community

First, we need to understand Latino diversity.

Though grouped together as Latinos or Hispanics, there are many layers of diversity within this population. Some are the same layers that every group faces, with their own unique twist, including:

Generational—For predominantly English speaking Latino Millennials, only 16 percent of them see themselves as white compared to twice as many older Latinos. They are less likely to have assimilated than their first-generation parents, who—as they faced discrimination due to their limited or accented English—chose not to teach their kids Spanish.

Plus you can add the dynamics of the creative tension among the generational diversity of Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z also shows up in Latino communities.

Language—There are Latinos who are Spanish English or Spanglish dominant. Seven in 10 young Hispanics report they regularly blend English and Spanish into a Spanglish hybrid.

Identity—Many Latinos straddle the fusion of more than two identities. Millennial Latinos are more likely to be in mixed ethnic and racial backgrounds and they self- identify with the blended identities of “Blaxican,” “Mexipino,” or “China-Latina” and more. These young Latinos epitomize the new Latino-American multidimensional identity.

History in the USA—Latinos in the USA can be recent immigrants or be fourth or fifth generation. Latinos in the USA can either be economic or political refugees. Or be ancestors of families that were of that part of Mexico annexed by the United States in the Spanish American war.

Country of origin—Latinos come from 27 different nationalities with a wide range of races and ethnicities. Spanish speaking Blacks come from the Caribbean, Colombia, Perú, Panama, and other countries. Millions of those characterized as Latinos come from indigenous backgrounds from Tierra del Fuego in the farthest southern reaches of Latin America to the Rio Grande border with the US.

 Given all this variety, Latino identity cuts across a wide spectrum of choices, so individual Latinos face complex choices of how much of it to embrace. This cultural identity spectrum can go from the fiercely nationalistic to the fully assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture.

Next, embrace this diverse multidimensionality of Latinos in talent and marketplace penetration.

We need to differentiate among the various Latino talent pools and segmented markets. There is no one Latino market in the same way there is no one Latino talent force; therefore, we must be wary of jumping to conclusions about your talent attraction materials. In order to have effective strategies for sourcing, attracting, hiring, engaging, advancing as well as selling to Latino talent, we must differentiate and define whether we are targeting the first, second, third, or fourth-generation Latinos. The Boomer, Xer, or Millennial Latino, The English-, Spanish-, or Spanglish-dominant Latino.

Be crossculturally agile. Ensure you don’t inadvertently use slang, cultural references, and pictures that are meaningful to say, Puerto Ricans, when you are trying to reach those who are mostly Mexican.

Don’t be paralyzed by fears of offending. By feeling you have to guess what the identity choices are of Latino talent or consumers. Watch, study, observe. And then, when necessary, which will be often, ask.

Be Latino diversity savvy by grasping the vast diversity among what often gets lumped under the simplistic umbrella of “Latinos.” Learn this and shape your talent attraction and marketplace penetration strategies accordingly. Just by doing this you will go a long way in enhancing your attractiveness to this highly desired talent pool.

My next post will zero in on “Strategy 2: Become Self Aware of how Corporate Cultures Are and Are Not Attractive to Latino Talent.” Stay tuned.

Cristina: A Latina Comedian Lands Prime Time TV Show on ABC

by Andrés T. Tapia –Cristela.980.16x9

Below is a special message from Juan Andrade, president of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, that I’m passing on to you. The USHLI is a national organization that promotes civic responsibility and empowerment by conducting voter registration initiatives and leadership development programs across the country.

On Fridays, America will see a Latina law school student and her multi-generational family on network television! CRISTELA, a family comedy co-created, co-executive produced, written by and starring Cristela Alonzo is loosely based on the life and stand up routine of the Mexican American comedian.

As advocates for the Latino community, this is a moment that we can come together to combat so much negativity against our community. Whatever your roots, this is a story all Latinos can support. This is our story. It’s about an American family that happens to be Latino. Make no mistake, this is a big deal for us and a lot is at stake.

Cristela Alonzo is uniquely aware of the influence her show can have on the viewers. She is dedicated to sharing our stories (real stories) and tackling the issues that are important to our community like only a show like Cristela can do. She chose the profession of her character (Law school student) as a means to be able to bring light to the issues as an intern in a law firm in Dallas.

The power of media to change hearts and minds is very real. It is a well- known fact that media influences how white people view people of color. It won’t surprise to know we are grossly under represented on TV – save the negative images we see on the news. The very fact that this show is on the air will combat the onslaught of negative images we see every day.

In Cristela’s family – Americans will see a Latina going after her American dream to become an attorney, a small business owner working hard to support his family and a Latina Mom juggling career and children. Then there is the traditional “old school” mom that had the courage to bring her family to this country.

Cristela is the FIRST Latina to co-create co-executive produce, write and star on a network show. Her writer’s room consists of 6 Latino Writers and 2 women. This is unheard of in Hollywood.

We have a unique opportunity to come together to support portrayals of positive Latino images that are the focus of the family comedy. We have the power to make this our COSBY SHOW.

What is at stake? If we do not watch and support on social media we send a message to the halls of power in HOLLYWOOD that we don’t think it’s important to see our stories and ourselves on network TV. We know this isn’t true, but it’s just like GETTING OUT THE VOTE! If you don’t show up your not counted.


With World Cup Over, Brazil Faces Its Toughest Opponent

by Andrés T. Tapia –  fortaleza2-300x198

FORTALEZA, Brazil – Nearly three thousand kilometers north of São Paulo sits the city of Fortaleza, the commercial capital of Brazil’s phenomenal, if sputtering economic boom. In this city of two and a half million, fronting the Atlantic and host to five World Cup games, tales of boom and bust jockey for position as the overriding narrative of the nation.

Despite the official outcome of the games, this is the game to watch.

For Fortaleza’s residents, Brazil’s economic ascent has meant that hundreds of thousands have been pulled out of poverty. They are the basis of a new and aspiring middle class. The signs of their presence are everywhere: the latest in fashion trends adorn city streets, as do dogs on leashes, shopping as therapy, and the latest fitness craze.

The transformation is notable for a city that was once seen as a sleepy beach town attractive to adventure tourists and not much else. The city center today is awash with commerce. A stroll down the main boulevard, Praia de Meireles, offers views of the hip and kitsch. Trendy restaurants and hotels look out over the hourly parade of the Trem da Fantasia (the Fantasy Train) being rocked by local Mickey and Minnie Mouse knockoffs.

Even the foreign tourists in town for the World Cup are outnumbered by Brazilian tourists, from cities both near and far and flush with disposable income. Many come to claim their stake in the booming real estate market along Fortaleza’s shores, or in places such as tradition-filled Morro Branco and Canoa Quebrada, two hours to the north and south of the city.

“People have money to spend,” says one cabbie who goes by the name Derry. “Especially the poor. Education has made the difference.”

Like many in Fortaleza, Derry left his rural home to come to the city hoping to tap into the rising economic tide. Later, over a cup of tapioca gelato, he points out that even Americans are beginning to discover the place, noting that he’s begun taking English so as to better communicate with potential clients.

Still, not everyone in the city takes as rosy a view.

As in other major cities thousands here took to the streets in the days and weeks prior to the World Cup to protest the billions spent on infrastructure for the games, money they say came at the expense of more pressing needs. For these, the pageantry of the World Cup only served to reinforce a collective feeling of neglect.

Edson (who only gave his first name) works as a waiter in Fortaleza’s main square. We talk as he clears the table before me. He says he can’t understand how people can pay $750 for a scalped quarterfinal ticket or $450 a night for a hotel while his whole month’s rent is $250, leaving little room for his wife and two kids.

“It’s only for the outsiders,” he says resentfully of the beefed up security presence accompanying the games. “Once the Cup is over we will face the same dangers on the street we always have faced daily.”

Outside, street vendors, cleaning ladies, and the homeless rub elbows with swanky urbanites ready for a night on the town. It was one thing to be poor when the entire country was not prosperous, I muse. Quite another to see it get rich without you.

And so it is, back and forth in Fortaleza and much of Brazil, between the newly well off, those who have always been well off and are doing even better, and those who are being left behind.

One Brazil can proudly say that as much as this and other large cities were electric during the World Cup games they hosted, a place like Fortaleza is long past needing a World Cup boost to put it on the map. It has at its shores the Praia do Futuro (the Beach of the Future). There are now direct flights to Miami and Lisbon. And if Fortaleza’s name was originally derived from it being a fortress to protect Portuguese colonizers from the indigenous natives, it is now an economic fortress that has come into its own and is extending its reach.

At its foundations, however, lie the corrosive effects of inequality, the other Brazil. As FIFA took its ball and went home in July, it is not the nation’s sad national soccer seleção that residents must reckon with, but themselves.

World Cup Fervor Shows How USA Has Assimilated to Immigrant Cultures

by Andrés T. Tapia 

Watching the World Cup in Brazil got me to thinking about how World Cup fever has exploded  in the States. From sports bars and airports to public arenas, a cross-section of Americans have joined with the rest of the world to watch in rapt attention.  It just goes to show how assimilation has turned into a two-way phenomenon. Check out my recent Huffington Post piece on how World Cup Fever Shows How USA has Assimilated to Immigrant Cultures.”



Diversity and the Rise of America’s Second-Tier Cities

by Andrés T. Tapia –


The Cincinnati skyline at twilight

In my work as president of Diversity Best Practices, I travel around the country a lot—meeting with members, consulting, giving speeches. While my engagements often take me to the usual big cities—New York City; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco—increasingly my work is pulling me to second-tier towns. Like most people, I had preconceived ideas about our country’s smaller cities—slower paced, homogeneous, lacking in resources and amenities. To my surprise, there is a fervent movement around diversity and inclusion in these secondary cities that I believe is evolving into a national trend.

From Pittsburgh to Columbus to Omaha to Grand Rapids to Milwaukee to Indianapolis to Minneapolis, cities that people have typically assumed lack diversity are more diverse than people think. In fact, the percentage of racial minorities in Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; and Milwaukee surpasses that of New York City. And Grand Rapids and Milwaukee come close to rivaling the Big Apple in terms of the percentage of Latinos.

What’s more, because many of these cities are experiencing economic growth the imperative of diversity is growing right along with their rising economic indicators. Omaha has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, Columbus one of the fastest economic growth rates, and Pittsburgh is the poster child of a city making the pivot from an industrial economy based on steel to the new economy of finance, healthcare, and technology.

In their growing dynamism, companies in these second tier cities are awakening to a realization that not only do they need to leverage the diverse talent pool already in the city; they need to bring in more talent from outside to keep their economic growth momentum. This means attracting more diversity—racial/ethnic, immigrant, LGBT—to cities that on first blush may not be seem to be magnets for big-city types from groups that historically may not have felt welcome.

It’s this legacy perception that they lack the diversity and amenities found in major metropolitan areas that poses a fundamental challenge to these second-tier cities. If they don’t overcome it, their economic growth may stall out due to lack of talent.

So companies in these markets are working together to get their diversity story out. I have been with passionate diversity leaders in Milwaukee, Columbus, Omaha, and Cincinnati, where they have banded together through city-wide diversity councils where big and medium-sized companies (even competing organizations) are addressing their common diversity challenges. They’re also partnering with their local Chambers of Commerce and city development organizations to make their cities more attractive. Because when it comes to attractive city life its not just about seeking tolerance; it’s also about finding a place to do my hair, find my spices, boogey to my music. So these diversity leaders are helping their cities with the following three-prong communications effort.

  • Spread the word about the economic opportunities as the nation as whole struggles with a sluggish recovery. These cities are home for some of the largest companies in the nation, many of them in the FORTUNE 100. Mutual of Omaha, Union Pacific, and ConAgra in Omaha; Cardinal Health, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nationwide, Limited Brands, Huntington Bank in Columbus, Ohio; Fifth Third, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble, Kroger in Cincinnati; 3M, Target, Cargill, Best Buy, General Mills in Minneapolis; PNC, Humana, US Steel, Heinz in Pittsburgh; MillerCoors, Manpower, Rockwell, and Harley Davidson, Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee. And then there’s the largest employer in the world in the middle of Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart is so much of a force in its headquarter town that some of its vendors have set up large facilities in the southern town specifically to serve the big box retailer—supersizing the retailer’s already outsized economic influence on the town.
  • With economic strength comes the benefit of increased tax revenues. Increased revenues have fueled a civic renaissance providing residents and visitors alike with a very cosmopolitan experience. In Omaha’s Market Square, the small-town quaintness of horse-drawn carriages meandering down cobblestone roads meets a metropolitan menu of sushi, Indian, French, and Latin fusion restaurants representing a savory selection of international cuisine typically reserved for the big city. Pittsburgh has transformed from a soot-producing steel town to a clean, landscaped happening urban hub. Cleveland’s Historic Warehouse District with its potted flower lined sidewalk cafes is reminiscent of European scenes. Milwaukee’s shuttered factories have been reborn as funky lofts for artists and restaurants and night clubs for hip professionals. Cincinnati’s historic riverfront on the Ohio River offers a large urban park experience that can be topped off in the evening with a cabernet sauvignon and a prime rib cooked medium rare.
  • Confront and cast off the legacy that these cities are not welcoming to racial and ethnic minorities and other underrepresented groups. A Cincinnati study found that despite the city’s growing diversity, a majority of its residents feel that still more diversity is needed and that they still fall short of providing a truly inclusive and welcoming spirit to outsiders. Cincinnati’s findings likely represent the feelings of those in many of our country’s second-tier cities and these cities know their work is not done.

These systematic, city-wide approaches already in action are the key to achieving greater diversity in these smaller cities. The next step involves metropolitan-wide collaborations with local businesses—grocery stores, beauty salons, barbershops and more—in an effort to truly meet the needs for lifestyle amenities that potential residents seek when contemplating a new home. The effort is a win-win for all involved—these cities and their residents and the companies located there. For an influx of greater diversity will mean a growing population with needs for all kinds of mainstream and exotic goods and services.

This trend is still evolving. Keep your eyes open. There’s an emerging diversity story here, in a second-tier city near you.

U.S. Women’s Soccer: Not Quite America’s Team

by Andrés T. Tapia –WomensSoccerTeam_2.

This article was published by the New America Media.

What a thrill. What pride. What a show of skill and prowess by the US women’s national soccer team in the 2011 Women’s World Cup even as they lost in penalty shots to Japan on Sunday.

Too bad that this fabulous squad does not yet quite look like America.

Wambach made magnificent header goals. Rapinoe great centers. Boxx streaking shots from outside the box. I cheered them along, as they deserved to be cheered, and relished their hard fought battle on behalf of a nation.

But my feelings were bittersweet. In a roster of 21 players, there are only two Latinas and no Blacks or Asians. In the team picture of bright, young, exuberant, and inspiring faces, the hues and shades of a multicultural America that is 30% racial/ethnic are quite limited.

There is something deeply amiss in the lack of diversity in both the women and men’s national soccer teams. Not only because 1/3 of the nation is missing in their composition, but because when we look at the age range of those who play professionally the gap is even more striking: 40% of this age group are people of color.

Further, given soccer’s popularity, particularly in the Latino community, this lack of diversity can’t be excused. While it can be said legitimately about golf, tennis, and swimming that the pipeline of diverse talent in the game is significantly limited given low participation numbers by minority children at the entry point of the pipeline, the same cannot be said about this most populist of sports, futbol.

Yes, golf, tennis, and swimming must find ways to get more minorities involved, not only for the sake of these marginalized communities, but also for the sake of the vitality of these sports. By limiting the talent pool it draws from, is it any coincidence the US has not dominated in golf or tennis in the past decade? But soccer has a huge built-in advantage over these other sports even as the US Tennis Association (USTA) significantly steps up its efforts to introduce tennis to ten-year-old kids of color. But the massive numbers of female and male participants of color in soccer are getting bypassed by colleges, US Soccer teams, and pro-soccer farm systems.

As one looks at the player roster both in women and men’s soccer, how is it that diversity, in this sport has been whitewashed?

When I played on the varsity soccer team at Northwestern University, I was the only Latino on the team — and a walk-on from South America and not a Hispanic American at that — and Floyd the only black. Granted, NU was not that diverse to begin with, but surely, in the soccer subculture there should have been some sort of over-indexing of diversity.

To increase the diversity of the US teams – not only to be truly America’s team, but also to ensure that US teams remain competitive – an all-out diversity effort must be launched.

First, more minority children must be enrolled in the largest soccer youth programs around. When I coached my daughter’s AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) girls’ soccer team, the $100+ fees were out of reach for many working class Latino families. To Highland Park AYSO’s credit, it began instituting a sliding scale fee funded by local individuals and companies. But while this upped participation some, the lack of relations between the white and Latino communities made it hard to spread the word about the program.

And even when more Latino youngsters did participate, coaches — many new to the sport of soccer themselves — did not know how to reconcile the differing expectations from Latino parents when practice schedules conflicted with work schedules at the family store or other business. And given standard “fairness” principles, the “no practice, no play” policy killed any nascent enthusiasm among working-class and immigrant kids and parents.

The barriers to entry in the more competitive youth travel soccer leagues are even higher given the $1000+ fees and far away road games that assume parents have cars and free weekends to schlep their cleat-clad kids.

But the institutions that truly have no excuse for their lack of diversity on their soccer teams are colleges. Thousands of girls and boys nationwide are playing on public middle-and high school soccer teams. Here participation is free, school busses transport the teams to their matches, and immigrant parents have at least some working knowledge about school culture that they don’t have about para-organizations such as AYSO and travel soccer.

Title IX, which demanded the playing field be evened out for collegiate women in terms of budgets, facilities, and scholarships, is the number one reason women’s sports in the US has risen to the world-class caliber we saw in Sunday’s World Cup. But like in corporate America, women’s gains have unfortunately ended up being white women’s gains, with Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women conspicuously absent as beneficiaries of powerfully important gender diversity programs.

To break through we need US Soccer, college soccer scouts, and parents to shift their assumptions and behaviors.

In machista societies like the Latino one, girls have to be seen as legitimately able to compete in sports for fun or career just as boys are. Scouts need to get comfortable going into barrio and inner city schools and to suburbs dominated by immigrants just like football and basketball scouts started doing a generation ago.

And US Soccer can up the ante by insisting its scouts and coaches source greater diversity for players considered for the US uniform.

Because that uniform belongs to all of us.

Do Immigrant Workers Hurt or Strengthen the Economy?

illegal-immigrant-signby Andrés T. Tapia

OK, so there are tons of polarizing debate on documented and undocumented immigrants in the US and whether they have a positive or negative impact on our national economy.

While tempers simmer or boil over around both sides of  the Arizona SB1070  debate and other similar legislation targeted at deporting those who are undocumented, there are some recently released studies that show that immigrants – both legal and illegal – actually strengthen the U.S. economy.

First, a look at the estimated number of undocumented workers. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study says that although 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants were estimated to be living in the United States, the growth of undocumented immigrants had actually stalled after 2006. According to the US Census, by 2008, there were 8.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. workforce. Based on this data, unauthorized immigrants make up 4 percent of the U.S. population and 5.4 percent of the workforce.

At the heart of the immigration debate is the concern that immigrants — undocumented as well as documented — take jobs and benefits from government and community resources meant for U.S. citizens, and further weaken an already ailing economy.

Let’s see what recent studies say.

The Benefits of Immigration to the Economy

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, by Giovanni Peri, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, and a visiting scholar at the Fed, points out the scarcity of evidence that proves immigrants take jobs from native-born workers. And instead of draining our financial system, immigrants may actually help grow our economy, stimulate investment, and encourage productivity-boosting activities like specialization.

In coming to this conclusion, Peri compared productivity per worker and unemployment statistics in states with a steady influx of immigrant workers to those states with few immigrants. States with growing, active immigrant populations actually have greater productivity, pay higher wages, hire more workers, and create more jobs than states with few immigrant workers. Each time a state’s employment increases as little as one percent due to immigration, the result is an increase in per worker income of .4 to .5 percent. In other words, more money in workers’ paychecks.

Immigrants Give More Than They Take

The Pew and Peri’s findings are not isolated results — there’s other evidence to support their claims. Research by Francine Lipman, Professor of Law at the Chapman University School of Law, found that despite widespread belief to the contrary, undocumented workers contribute more to our economy than they cost in social services. Along with boosting the economy through the purchase of consumer goods and by filling essential worker positions, immigrant economic activity ends up creating jobs, increasing productivity, and lowering the costs of goods and services for all of us. Furthermore, their contributions to Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance programs often go unused adding to the pool of money available to legal residents.

As hysteria reigns, some data to consider. I’m just sayin’.


For more stats on immigration, see Diversity Research: Immigrant Workers — Contradictory Trends in a Debate That’s Getting Hotter.

Nearly One in Six American Workers is Foreign-born; Highly Represented among Least and Most Educated

by Susan Welch, Hewitt Research —

diverseworkers According to the New York Times, nearly one in six American workers is foreign-born, the highest proportion since the 1920s, according to a census analysis released Monday. In 2007, immigrants accounted for more than one in four workers in California (35%), New York (27%), New Jersey (26%) and Nevada (25%).

The proportion of immigrants without a high school diploma is higher than among native-born Americans, but so is the share of immigrants with graduate degrees. While immigrants constitute 16% of the total labor force, the foreign-born (mostly from Asia and Europe) make up 28% of workers with doctoral degrees.

Although immigrants from Asia, Europe and Africa are most likely to be employed in management and professional occupations, Latino immigrants are playing an important role as well. Even in 1970, more than 75% of Latinos between the ages of 16 and 25 were either working, in the military, or going to school. By 2007, that number rose to 86%.

Employers need to do more to support this potential workforce, however. Roughly 20% of Latina women remain uneducated and unemployed, along with 16% of Latino men. Reaching into communities to sponsor programs for young Latinos can help an employer ensure a strong pipeline of workers down the road.

Immigrant workers can benefit the world, and their host countries, in myriad ways. As pointed out by Chris O’Brien in the Mercury News, the six newest Nobel Prize winners are U.S. citizens, but four of those six also are foreign born. This fact illustrates the need for, and power of, migrant workers.

As O’Brien points out, “We are increasingly dependent on brainpower from overseas that migrates here to drive the research and discoveries we need to power economic growth.”

Indeed. And as Andres discusses in chapter 15 of his book, The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity, unless corporations grasp sooner rather than later that we need to do more to ensure the healthy development of  talent across ethnic lines, our own economic survival is at stake.