What companies need to know about hiring Latinx talent

I know you are tempted to create another KPI around hiring folks of color. Maybe you are writing another Twitter post about the lack of applicants for your open roles, Schitts Creek GIF included. We've all read about the #GreatResignation. For me, and countless other leaders it is more like the #GreatAwakening, as Mita Malick says.

Before we move into solutions, here are some facts you need to know. After you read these stats, copy and paste them on a document you have access to constantly because the Latinx community is the driving force behind economic growth in the United States. Let me explain how:

  • Hispanics made up more than half of the total U.S. population growth from 2010 to 2020. Hispanics accounted for 51% of this increase, a greater share than any other racial or ethnic group. (Pew Research Center, 2021)

  • The number of Hispanic workers in the labor force has grown from 10.7 million in 1990 to 29.0 million in 2020 today and is projected to reach 35.9 million in 2030. (US Department of Labor, 2021)

  • Hispanics are projected to account for 78% of net new workers between 2020 and 2030. (US Department of Labor, 2021)

  • By 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects Hispanics to account for 1 out of every 5 workers in the labor force, at 21.2%. (US Department of Labor, 2021)

  • Latinos are the only demographic in the U.S. to increase their homeownership rate despite the health and economic damages of 2020 and 2021. (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, 2020)

  • If the U. S. Latino market were its own country, it would be the 7th largest economy. Currently valued at $2.7 Trillion, the U.S. Latino market GDP is tied with France. (Latino Donor Collaborative, 2021)

Your recruitment and retention of Latinx talent need to go beyond what the numbers say and be “good for business.” It’s also about your commitment to what you posted last year on the company’s website. You know, equity.

My partners at Diversity Crew define Equity as “the removal of obstacles which prevents individuals from achieving their greatest potential.” With this baseline understanding in mind, I asked the powerhouse Latinx leaders in my network to share best practices for companies big and small when looking to hire Latinx talent.

What companies need to know about hiring Latinx talent

Equity and Inclusion Go Before Diversity

If this statement is a surprise, stop what you are doing and start working with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant right now. One of the biggest issues I uncover working with companies and non-profit organizations is that their current employees struggle to get their voices heard and receive the supports they need to thrive. I want to push you beyond white feminism and performative allyship to a solutions-focused mindset. Those issues are important, but before you try to “resolve” the BIPOC pipeline “problem” (yes, in quotations because they are lies) you have to address the systemic issues that your possibly homogenous staff has identified as the biggest roadblocks to their success.

Why would you try to hire folks from marginalized groups to an already toxic environment? This approach perpetuates the oppression of already oppressed groups. When you prioritize diversity over equity, inclusion, and justice, you create competing priorities between your undersupported staff and your new diverse group of employees. You become a double oppressor. You will have 2 different standards for team members that no one can achieve. You are intentionally building a culture where every team member can only see their immediate needs, roadblocks, and challenges rather than attaining their greatest potential.

Companies tend to believe that the culture is the only way to retain Latinx employees even when the benefits and salaries are not the greatest. In reality, having the right compensation allows the employee to contribute positively to the company culture instead of the other way around.
(Jafet, Marketing and Communications Manager)

I also understand that you cannot wait until “all the stars align” to fill your current open positions. This is why collecting data all year long is imperative for sound decision-making. Invest in training your leaders in management basics, effective communication, anti-racist work, inclusive hiring practices, and radical candor. Utilize rubrics when hiring and evaluating employees that focus on impact and competency over education and failures. Use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to identify potential candidates, but require hiring managers and HR professionals to review resumes who are not in the “top candidates” section of your ATS and provide opportunities for applicants to schedule informational interviews before applying.

Want to go beyond what most companies do? Don’t give the interviewers any demographic, personal, or educational information about the candidates. Suppose the hiring manager or talent acquisition employee has already identified that an applicant has the minimum qualifications for the role. In that case, the interview shouldn’t focus on where they live, their commute, nor if they went to an Ivy League over a Community College. Interviews should focus on the impact and commitment to the values, not a culture fit, or can they participate in March Madness discussions. Believe me, I’ve heard this.

It’s Not About Lowballing Us, Put The Salary Range In The Job Description

Is there anything else I should add? How is this not a thing? Part of what I do is teach leaders of color to build their professional brands so they can attract the right opportunities. Your personal and company brand tells a story that will resonate with people’s hearts and minds. A brand attracts, your marketing pushes the message for action. Not adding the salary range in the job description pushes the narrative that “you need this more than I need you”. Every company uses the terms manager, team leader, senior, coordinator, lead, director in different ways, and the title doesn’t reflect the responsibilities and scope of work of what you are asking folks to do. The salary range can serve as an indicator of the level of responsibility and support you will provide.

Having the salary range in the job description also allows you to attract the right applicants for the role, and lets folks decide what they would need from this role to succeed. There is no compelling story that you can tell the best candidate when you offer them a position at your company that will make them say “sure, I’ll take $30k less from what I deserve, not worry about paying for food, and close my Indeed account to stop looking for another job.”

Adding the salary range and not getting quality candidates also tells you that the job description might need to be updated, that the application process can be too extensive, or that the company is not ready to pay for the level of experience they believe they need. You can decide to get the “employees for the next 6 months” or employees invested in the success of the team that sees themselves prospering as your organization evolves.

I am in a relationship with another woman, and one day we would like to have children (birth and adopt), own our home, take care of our parents, and no longer live in a mindset of scarcity. I want to be paid well, I want to be offered good retirement benefits and access to someone who can sit down with me through the process and advise me, health care that is LGBTQ+ inclusive, vacation/family days, transportation stipends, and the flexibility to not have to be in an office 9-5 pm each day.
(Mariangely, Policy Advisor and Organizer)

Your benefits also need to align with the needs of the individuals. One of the reasons why I decided to move into full-time entrepreneurship was the lack of flexibility with my schedule. Instead of being able to focus on my work until 4:00 PM, reduce my commute from Boston to my daughter’s school by almost an hour, and being able to help her with her homework, leaving at 4:30 PM meant that by 1:00 PM I was already rushing, checking the traffic announcements and weather, and panic texting my husband because we might not make it in time to get my daughter from school. These were 3 hours where I was distracted and disengaged from my work, just because of a 30-minute difference.

Don’t Humanize Us After You Employ Us

Interviews are a power competition, and they shouldn’t be. An interview and subsequent job offer should follow the principles of strategic partnership development. Both parties have equal needs and interests, and they are coming together on an agreement where the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or BATNA gives the parties a way to move towards an aligned mission. In the end, you get a badass leader ready to help you achieve your goals and you provide an environment where they can do this without any issues.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion go beyond you partnering with your local non-profit or an HBCU to get folks of color to apply. Understand that people are constantly working on their professional development and this doesn’t include a degree in an interview talking with a panel of executive leaders for 3 hours. Humanize your interviews and don’t underestimate someone’s value based on how nervous they are, what they wear, their Zoom background, access to high-speed internet access, or their knowledge of using the latest technology.

As a new employee, I would like to be asked “How would you like me to show up for you so that I become one of the best managers you’ve ever had?” It shows that we can work for and with each other, rather than “You work for me, so do what I say... or else.”
(John, Professor and Higher-Education Consultant)

It’s great that you offer a health insurance package, but that doesn’t mean that every applicant has access to quality medical care. Canceling or “moving forward with other candidates” because someone had to reschedule their interview or their first day at work based on their health is wrong. Don’t believe that a caregiver that can’t find care for their young child the day of the interview is less likely to succeed than someone who isn’t a parent. Some of the best leaders have learned how to manage different projects with competing priorities by keeping their composure at Target while their 3-year old is touching a glass vase and taking their diapers off. It’s me, that leader is me.

Family First Doesn’t Mean Us Second

Latinx people are widely known for their values around family, community, and resiliency. These values can come from how we were raised, trauma responses around colonialism and the erasure of Immigrant and Indigenous communities, or simply because that’s the way we want to show up in the world. Our commitment to social impact doesn’t mean that we are willing to sacrifice our dreams for “your greater good.”

I also understand that people’s perception of Latinx or Hispanic workers comes from the media they consume. The misrepresentation of Latinx folks in media makes even other people of color visualize us with negative stereotypes such as only the hardest working blue-collar, entry-level professionals, drug dealers, criminals, and “spicy” foreigners. I forgot, we also cook really well and dance very sexually while constantly praying and hitting our children with la chancla.

When applying for a role think about all the assets that you bring to the table. As an immigrant, and with a few years living in the U.S. I had to be very intentional about this. I wrote a list of all the things I could bring (not just a second language, diversity, or cultural awareness which is what easily can come to mind), but how these things make me an innovative and creative person that will influence the team.
(Karla, Marketing Director and Social Entrepreneur)

These exploitative stereotypes make many employers create guides for “managing Latinos and Hispanics” that don’t address the diversity and intersections of our communities. That’s why companies create goals for Latinx Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that are more about what party they organize for Cinco de Mayo over highlighting the contributions of the community beyond the few Latinx mid-level managers you’ve hired this year.

Research shows that Latinas, who are still the group in the United States with the widest pay gap, ask for promotions and raises at similar rates to white men (Lean In, 2020). Creating a work environment that “feels like family” is not what Latinx leaders are looking for in a job. Latinx professionals want the same as everyone else: salaries that reflect the experience and impact of our work, equitable practices, a positive work culture, opportunities for professional growth, flexibility based on our specific circumstances, respect, opportunities to highlight our skills, and a supportive people manager that knows, well, how to manage.

The reality is that hiring, managing, and retaining top talent requires everyone involved to prioritize their professional development, create a space to elevate marginalized people’s voices, and an inherent belief that we can all thrive when we value the diversity of others and can serve as a conduit to remove barriers that stand in the way of a person being realized. Now, it’s your turn to commit to one action before the next time you utter the words “why can’t I find talent.” Share this article with your response.


Paulette Piñero is the owner of LEAD Media LLC, a leadership coaching and consulting firm that coaches Latina leaders to go from burned-out to thriving in their careers and business.

Connect Paulette on LinkedIn and Instagram or listen to the podcast Making Lider Moves.

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