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10/07/2021

National Hispanic Heritage Month

 En los Estados Unidos, más de 41 millones de personas hablan español como primer idioma (aproximadamente el 13% de la población), y ese número sigue creciendo. Además, los EU. es el hogar de casi 12 millones de hispanohablantes bilingües.

In case you don’t speak Spanish, the paragraph above says:

In the United States, more than 41 million people speak Spanish as a first language (about 13% of the population), and that number continues to grow. Additionally, the U.S. is home to nearly 12 million bilingual Spanish speakers.

If you’re an employer, that statement brings forward an important call to action. It means that more than one in every 10 potential applicants for your open positions may have Spanish as a first language, and perhaps more importantly, more than one in ten of their customers, clients, vendors and colleagues will.

This is National Hispanic Heritage Month (Wednesday, September 15 to Friday, October 15, 2021), which acknowledges the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success. It also recognizes the growing contribution as the portion of the population that is Hispanic-American grows.

While it is appropriate to celebrate Hispanic Heritage, we should not lose sight of the fact that much of this heritage has been overlooked or misunderstood by some. For many years people from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominica, and Central and South America were lumped together by some in the US cultural view as “Mexicans,” and later attempts to break this down or to substitute new nomenclature such as LatinX have met with limited success. Others have noted that US residents tend to refer to themselves as “Americans” much to the chagrin of those living in Central and South America, not to mention Canadians.

The point is this: 1) Recruiting effectively means discerning and recognizing difference across the spectrum of humanity and; 2) While there is a rich heritage we could call “Hispanic,” there are 21 countries south of the US Border, 20 of which have Spanish as their official language (one, Brazil, is Portuguese-speaking) as well as numerous indigenous languages that are spoken by segments of their population. While we (mostly) no longer lump all Hispanic people in the US under the sobriquet “Mexican” some continue lumping together largely through unconscious bias and listening as “farm workers” or “service workers.” Hispanic executives provide leadership and insight across industries including in finance, investment banking, private equity, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, education and so much more.

In hiring, it is critical that recruiters and employers consider any stereotypes, biases and/or opportunities to learn they may have and see through those to the person they are considering hiring – their qualifications and unique personality for sure, but also the unique contribution they can make based on their culture, their linguistic abilities, and the appeal to customers of coming into a business and seeing someone who not only looks like them, but speaks their language fluently.

As in all areas of diversity and inclusion, breaking down and barriers with increased awareness and appreciation informs responsible and successful recruitment processes and practices.

 

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