Forbes Article by Forbes Council Member, Maryanne Piña
The Latino career chasm is well documented—Latinos are underrepresented in leadership in organizations and experience high levels of career dissatisfaction and job attrition. My company developed the Latino Career Assessment™ (LCA™) to support the awareness and development needed to address this. Along with individual insights, the LCA provides a snapshot of the common areas of strength and gap.
As CEO and majority owner of a minority- and women-owned talent firm, I help support clients with executive recruiting, assessment, coaching and outplacement solutions globally. My company has reviewed the results of 100-plus professionals who completed the LCA™. All participants were Latino professionals who work in a variety of industries from Fortune 100 companies to private organizations across the United States. Participants were evenly distributed between being in individual contributor and manager-level roles.
In this article, I’d like to discuss how to take action based on the results of this research.
Reviewing The Data
Let’s start with areas of strength. Among the 14 career predictors, the following three were rated the highest on average:
- Taking Initiative.
- Extending Influence .
- Increasing Self-Awareness.
This may be because those who completed the assessment were interested in progressing their career—they likely take initiative and are interested in the self-awareness that comes from an assessment and development experience. Many of these professionals also participate in their company Latino Employee Resource Group (ERG), so they have chosen to extend their influence and build broader professional networks. Our research has shown that these behaviors will continue to create career options for these professionals.
However, it is important to address the common gaps in development. Below are the areas in which those completing the assessment rated lowest.
Career Alignment With Purpose And Values
I find Career Alignment with Purpose and Values to be a foundational element of a career of sustained engagement. It creates the commitment and criteria to focus careers and catalyze the people and organizations to support you. However, too many in the community have not been guided or supported to surface and align their career with their purpose and values. It is not taught in most schools, nor is it a point of development in most organizations.
As a business owner and leader, understanding your Hispanic/Latino employees’ purpose and values is critical in helping them create career alignment and can positively affect employee retention. Ongoing formal and informal communication can help identify employees motivations, values, and strengths, and using inclusive terminology, such as us, we, or together, can create a sense of inclusivity.
Practicing Determination And Grit
The next highest gap is the category Practicing Determination And Grit. Staying engaged through the inevitable setbacks and challenges in a work environment can be critical for career success.
As a leader, make an effort to recognize when employees are displaying behaviors of low self-confidence—when employees question their ability to be successful or avoid difficult challenges. Communicate and encourage employees to write developmental goals. Assess their progress and give genuine praise for the milestones they achieve.
Our cultural scripts of respect and maintaining positive relationships by minimizing the negative may inhibit Latinos from speaking up in many situations. Especially if we sense we are confronting prejudice and discrimination.
To facilitate an environment where everyone’s opinion is heard, you can take action by:
- Making it safe for employees to share ideas.
- Insisting that the quietest voice in the room be heard.
- Voicing their ideas while giving proper credit.
Dealing With Prejudice And Discrimination
The category of Dealing With Prejudice And Discrimination was tied with Speaking Up as the third highest gap for Latino professionals. This is consistent with an IBM study in which 63% of Latinos felt that they had to work harder to succeed due to their Hispanic identity. It is critical that Latinos have key insights and tools needed to effectively navigate in organizations in which they are confronted with people who operate with stereotypes and differing expectations.
The key to dealing with prejudice and discrimination is being prepared to respond, educate and empower yourself and others. Empowering Latino talent includes the following strategies:
- Recognize your own prejudices. Be aware of negative perceptions and feelings you may have toward diverse and Latino people.
- Educate yourself and others. When you see micro and macro aggressions, stand up, challenge and inform. Start a conversation.
- Engage your employees. Get to know your diverse and Latino colleagues at an individual level.
Of course, each person is unique. However, the common areas of strength and gap highlighted by my company’s research are consistent with what I see in working with Latino professionals. As you focus on your own business’s growth, consider the development of the community and allying with your Latino colleagues.
As seen in Forbes.