Employee Benefit News - 5 ways leaders can support Hispanic talent in the workplace, featuring Victoria Park

Does your organization support Hispanic talent? A quick glance at the record pay gaps and lacking Hispanic representation among U.S. business leaders points to a likely “no” — at least in corporate America.

Latino CEOs account for only 20 of the Fortune 500 companies and make up as little as 4% of board seats. Latinas endure the worst gender pay gap among women of color, earning 57% of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2020, according to the American Association of University Women. 

As more business leaders conclude that they cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to DEI, workplace equity may seem like an elusive, if not impossible, goal. And the Hispanic community, which spans 20 countries and over 62 million people in the U.S. alone, has proved to be a widely misunderstood demographic in the professional world, says Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, vice president of DEI, social impact and sustainability at Justworks, a workforce management platform. 

“We are different as a population because we cut across race, ethnicity and religion — you cannot group us into one space,” Dinzey-Flores says. “But Latino employees just need the same things that other employees need.”

Dinzey-Flores, who is Puerto Rican and worked in the DEI space for over a decade, knows firsthand how difficult it is for employers to grasp the needs of the Hispanic population when their race and cultures vary. 

With a specific eye to Hispanic talent from Latin America, Dinzey-Flores and Victoria Park, director of communications at Black-owned media marketing company Hero Collective, asks employers to return to the fundamentals of leadership and engagement — but this time with a new focus.

Here are five tips on how to support Hispanic talent in the workplace:

  • Recruit with equity already in mind

Dinzey-Flores asks employers to consider implementing safeguards against bias in the hiring process. This includes encouraging hiring managers to step outside the company’s usual network of universities and recommendations from other leaders to pinpoint talent.

“You have to cast a wider net, because oftentimes we only look between people we know rather than who would be strong candidates,” says Dinzey-Flores. “Extend your network beyond yourself.”

She also suggests that companies conduct interviews with diverse panels of company leaders to minimize the chances of a candidate being judged on their background alone. While this advice is applicable to all diverse candidates, Dinzey-Flores underlines the importance of breaking down the barriers to entrance — without doing so, there cannot be any diversity to support in the first place.

  • Listen when someone speaks up

While easier said than done, Park warns leaders against taking the easy route. Puerto Rican herself, Park often finds herself in rooms where she is the only Latina among her co-workers. When Park has to speak up and share her perspective on an issue or proposal, and she isn’t heard, it’s a tell-tale sign that she isn’t in a supportive workplace.

“Minority communities have this sort of responsibility to be an educator to others, and it can be exhausting at times,” she says. “But I still believe in speaking out and loudly to affect change.”

Park emphasizes the courage it takes for Hispanic talent to be alone and loud in the workplace, recalling how at a previous company she dissuaded colleagues from insensitive climate change campaigns in Puerto Rico. The least leaders can do is hear her out, Park says. 

  • Utilize ERGS

Employee resource groups can be an effective way to combat the isolation Hispanic talent may feel in the workplace. With a community, however small, Hispanic talent could be more willing to speak up — for themselves and the company, explains Dinzey-Flores.

“A [contact] of mine leveraged their ERG to clarify descriptive language in their medicines,” she says of a peer who works in the pharmaceutical space. “They improved the symptom description, accounting for cultural differences that manifest within the Latino community. Now doctors are able to better prescribe the medication.”

  • Don’t underestimate mental health

While mental health is a universal challenge in the professional world, it’s worth noting that getting help is often stigmatized in Hispanic communities, says Park.

“Our parents focused so much on just existing and the struggle to provide for us that you feel a sense of guilt when you’re not happy or feeling insecure within yourself,” says Park. “You have everything your parents didn’t have, so why do you feel that way?”

This thinking can make it hard to accept help, even via employer-provided benefits. Park suggests that employers focus on cultivating a flexible and safe environment, where employees have agency in how they show up to work. The workplace may as well not be an added stressor. 

“I have ADHD and find it incredibly distracting to be in an open office environment,” says Park “So being able to be remote and find the best way to thrive and contribute has been super important to me.”

  • Engage with your team

While this tip seems simple, Dinzey-Flores notes that leaders often forget that engaging with workers isn’t just about giving directions and criticisms. Leaders have to make it clear they value everyone on their team during check-ins and even while giving feedback. Hispanic talent may often go unnoticed or underappreciated because leaders have not made an effort to connect with who they lead, Dinzey-Flores explains.

“We need to understand we can be part of the fabric of the organization,” she says. “If you are bringing in talent that’s not well represented in your organization, there needs to be more points of connection with those employees.”

Originally appeared in Employee Benefit News here.