Workforce 2000: Attracting and Retaining Hispanic Employees

Article excerpt

With shrinking labor pools and changing demographics, employers are facing a future comprising a diverse and multicultural workforce. One growing population of that workforce will be Hispanics. In fact, the Hispanic population presently comprises 8.5 percent of the total U.S. population, but by 2050, demographers predict that one out of six Americans will be Hispanic.

Since the Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population, employers that ignore this labor pool will shut them;elves off from talented employees at a time when skilled labor is expected to become scarce.

A major barrier to the acceptance and advancement of Hispanics or any other minority in the workplace, however, is the bias that results from stereo-typing, according to Antonio Rigual, president of Rigual & Associates Inc. in San Antonio. Stereotyping is especially dangerous because of the wide range of diversity within the classification "Hispanic." Hispanics represent many nationalities--Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American and others--and each culture has specific customs, beliefs and practices.

Rigual, who spoke at AMA's Human Resources Conference earlier this year, dispelled a few stereotypes associated with Hispanics, and offered some tips on how employers can better recruit and retain this population.

MYTH # 1:

Hispanics are uneducated and unqualified.

The fact is, the majority of Hispanic families earn less than $25,000, and almost one out of four Hispanics live below the poverty level. inner-city Hispanics attend schools that receive poor financial support, and they may be the first member of their family to attend college. Rigual believes that this is why Hispanics generally perform lower on SAT and ACT scores than white, non-Hispanics and earn lower GPAs. He pointed out that when Hispanics have come from the same socioeconomic background as white, non-Hispanics, they have had comparable SAT scores and college degrees. For example, more than 90 percent of Hispanics in the upper quartile income bracket (families earning above $48,000) finished high school, compared with 94.4 percent of white, non-Hispanics in the same bracket.

"The figures belie the unqualified status of Hispanics," reported Rigual. …