HISTORICALLY, HISPANIC HERITAGE Month has been a time when Corporate America has sought to recognize the largest non-white ethnic group, Latinos, through one-time, token event celebrations by providing workshops, lunches, and keynote speakers. It is time for organizations to step up and to do more for their Latino employees.

Tammy Ramos, J.D., is executive director of LatinaVIDA. (Courtesy photo)

According to the 2020 Census, Latinos represent 51 percent of the population growth, accounting for over 62 million people in the U.S., constituting 19 percent of the nation’s population. Latinos are also the fastest growing ethnic demographic in the workforce, representing 32 percent of the Gen Z population. In fact, since the Great Recession, Latinos have contributed close to three-quarters of the entire labor force expansion. Additionally, 1 in 6 women are Latinas and projected to be 1 in 3 by 2060. Latinos are a dynamic and powerful force in the American economy, contributing $2.7 trillion to the GDP with $1.9 trillion purchasing power.

While our contributions are immense, Latinos continue to be underrepresented in managerial, C-suite level positions and corporate board positions. Even though Latinos are 19 percent of the workforce, only about 11 percent of managerial positions are held by Latinos. At the upper levels of corporate leadership, Latinos represent 4 percent of the board seats at Fortune 500 companies, and Latinas represent only 1 percent.

Organizations truly committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace will go beyond token celebrations and invest in talent development for their high potential diverse employees all year long. Employers can do this by creating an infrastructure that supports diverse talent through leadership and professional development, career planning, and intentional, well developed sponsorship programs that go beyond surface mentoring. While mentorship provides peer to peer guidance and feedback, sponsorship is what emerging Latino leaders need. Sponsorship is deliberate and includes using one’s power, privilege, position and influence to advocate for and connect the protégé to new opportunities.

Bold action required

Senior leaders need to take bold action to implement processes and develop programming to diversify the talent pipeline and to ensure a diverse succession plan. The return on investment will include more diversity at the top, greater innovation, creativity, higher employee morale, which leads to greater overall performance and bottom line profits for the organization. Additionally, greater diversity in leadership builds the company brand with clients, customers, community members, suppliers and provides an organization with a competitive advantage.

With Latinos projected to be almost a third of the U.S. population by 2050, smart organizations will make the investment today, so that they will be well positioned in the future to enjoy the talent and purchasing power of the Latino market. This means aligning company accountability, incentives and rewards for making progress on diversity and inclusion goals. And it involves holding leaders accountable, linking their performance on diversity, equity, and inclusion to compensation.

As organizations continue to fight the war for talent, many do not understand why they are unable to attract, retain and promote diverse professionals. LatinaVIDA has a solution. LatinaVIDA is a thought partner to organizations seeking to diversify and promote diverse leaders to the top. With a proven track record with many Fortune 500 companies, LatinaVIDA’s ¡PODER! Leadership Academy is a comprehensive culturally relevant leadership program. It supports both the individual employee and the organization in creating an infrastructure to ensure that diverse talent is given the tools, training, coaching and sponsorship needed to move up the corporate ladder. Every month of the year should be a time to honor, acknowledge, and invest in your Latino employees, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month.

About the author

Tammy Ramos, J.D. is the executive director of LatinaVIDA, a California based 501(c)3 public benefit corporation that partners with organizations to support Latina professional development.