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Once every century a singular event transforms the American workforce. In the nineteenth century, industrialization gave rise to the cities becoming the nation’s economic engines, resulting in waves of migration from the countryside into urban centers. Farmers became factory workers, and in the process, America’s rural character became an urban one. The social and cultural consequences of this transformation gave rise to new sociological and cultural forces: “bourgeoisie” and “proletariat” entered academia, and the benign egalitarianism of a rural existence was replaced by the more defined distinctions between social class and economic income. It was in cities where the consumption of the “haves” became more conspicuous to the “have-nots,” who were relegated to the urban squalor of tenements, ethnic ghettos, and immigrant enclaves on the wrong side of the tracks.
In the twentieth century, the defining event was the result of the nation’s response to the Second World War. As the nation mobilized to meet military challenges in Europe and the Pacific, the labor market was depleted of able-bodied men who enlisted in the armed forces, and labor shortages were filled by women. American women entering the workforce proved to be a dramatic, sustained, and irreversible social and cultural phenomenon. Whereas women comprised only 18% of the labor market in 1900—primarily as schoolteachers, secretaries, waitresses, nurses, and other “support” professions—by the time the war ended, they would hold 28% of all jobs in the country.5 In the second half of the twentieth century, women would continue to increase their presence in the American labor force, holding 42.5% of all jobs by 1980.6 Since then, depending on how the labor market is defined and how workers are counted by age group, women comprise 46–51% of all workers.7 In consequence, gender equality, “glass ceilings,” affirmative action, mentoring programs, and discussions of sexism in the workplace have all been issues that have defined the business culture throughout the American economy for more than half a century. Women, as the twentieth century drew to a close, held 39.3% of all executive, administrative, and managerial jobs in the nation.8
In the current century, it is not difficult to see the seismic demographic changes that are fast transforming the American workforce: the United States has become a bilingual consumer economy, where “Oprima 2 para español” almost always follows “Press 1 for English,” on virtually every customer service telephone number. No law requires that companies reach out to their customers, vendors, and the public by providing Spanish-language operators, but they do: it is economics —the natural interplay of market forces as celebrated by Adam Smith—that is driving the spread of Spanish in the United States. This was first anticipated by Adam Smith. “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their self-interest,” he wrote in The Wealth of Nations. “We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities, but of their advantages.” Spanish is how corporate America seeks to build market share and establish a competitive advantage. Recruiting Hispanic employees is how this is most efficiently achieved.
To be sure, the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, accelerated the integration of the economies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This internationalization fueled trade, tourism, and migration among the three nations, and strengthened the spread of Spanish throughout the U.S. economy. Suddenly product labels had to be bilingual because a manufacturer in Chicago was selling to stores in New York and Mexico City. Of greater consequence, a shopper walking into a store in Miami or Los Angeles was more likely to be more fluent in Spanish than in English than in decades past. At the same time, local and state government realized that to fulfill their mandates, they had to address linguistic challenges: a child entering school for the first time who spoke little English, a 911 operator taking an emergency call from a Spanish-speaking resident, a public health outreach coordinator challenged by the need to provide medical information in Spanish to greater numbers of people.
The proliferation of Spanish reflects fundamental demographic changes that are reshaping the nation’s workforce. This is occurring at a time when Hispanic ascendance in the workforce reflects several fundamental trends:
1. As Baby Boomers age, non-Hispanic Whites are retiring in greater numbers, leaving the workplace entirely.
2. For unknown reasons, the fertility rate of non-Hispanic Whites is falling; fertility rates among African Americans hover around the natural “replacement” level; and fertility rates among Hispanics continue to increase.
3. Hispanics are predominantly working age, meaning that they are overrepresented in the labor market.
4. These overlapping trends—the emergence of a bilingual consumer economy in the United States and the ascendance of Hispanics in the labor force—are creating an unprecedented challenge for American employers.
That sweeping demographic changes are transforming America’s workforce is undeniable.
Consider two facts:
Image Hispanics in 2005 comprised 14% of the nation’s population, but constituted 22% of workers.9 That Hispanics are almost a decade younger than the population at large means that Hispanics, Latinos, and Latins, disproportionately, are of working age, either leaving college and entering the workforce, or well on their way to establishing their careers; and
Image Hispanics in 2050 will represent 32% of the nation’s population, but will comprise 55% of workers. As America’s baby boomers and Generation X-ers mature and retire, Hispanics and Latinos, native born and Latin immigrant alike, will dominate the workforce.10
These demographic changes are sweeping in scope, but they are no surprise to any manager, supervisor, or administrator who has seen the rapid changes in candidates in recent years. The closest phenomenon in living memory remains the entry of women in the workforce after World War II: women today constitute almost, if not, half of all workers currently employed. The obstacles this continues to pose for business—“glass ceilings,” and gender equality on governing boards, directorships, and CEO suites—demonstrate both the power of demographics, and the need to manage these changes effectively, and how the repercussions of demographic changes reverberate across the decades.
American employers, for the most part, have successfully incorporated women into their workforces, and the lessons learned can be applied to the successful integration of Hispanics now. In fact, Hispanics are fast expanding throughout the American workforce at a time when there is an emerging literature documenting how proper management of the Hispanic employee impacts directly an organization’s performance.
Hispanics today are what women were to management in the 1950s: a challenge that must be met because it is a reality that cannot be ignored.
This book gives managers, supervisors, and other administrators the knowledge and tools necessary to deal successfully with this century’s defining demographic shift that will transform the American workplace in the decades to come. Make no mistake: as irreversible as the ascendance of women over the past half century has been, it is now an undeniable reality that the “Hispanization” of the U.S. labor force will transform the nature, character, and culture of the American workplace.
The ascent of Hispanics as a presence in the workforce, and the specific challenges the Hispanic, Latino, and Latin employee poses to managers, stands to be the defining labor trend in the United States this century.
Managers confront obstacles that arise from the ascendance of Hispanics in the workplace, and from the characteristics of the mosaic components that constitute these employees. For Nonexempt employees, as such workers are defined under federal law, managers have specific tasks: how can managers assume their proper role in the corporate effort to increase productivity and profits? What does the explosion of Hispanics in the workforce mean? What are the characteristics of the Hispanic employee that require dedicated strategies from managers? How does America’s increasingly bilingual consumer economy impact and inform the working environment? Is the stereotype of the Hispanic worker as being “docile” a cultural misunderstanding of Hispanic “loyalty” and “patience”?
For Exempt employees, as such personnel are defined under federal law, managers additionally confront other issues: Is the stellar performance achieved by Hispanic women with graduate degrees indicative of the how Hispanics in general will transform corporate America’s productivity in the age of globalization? How can managers cultivate the Hispanic employee for the benefit of both employee and the organization as this century unfolds?
How can employees who are members of the Hispanic diaspora, an “out-group” in American society, acculturate and move closer to being part of the “in-group” of mainstream American life? To this end, the discussion presented in this book is divided into three sections.
Part I is “The Hispanic Employee and American Demographics.” The impact Hispanics are having on the nation’s demographics—and the disproportionate impact on the labor market—is discussed. This section addresses the fact that there is now a bilingual, bicultural workforce transforming the American workplace. The chapters in Part I introduce the reader to the demographic changes that are transforming the American workforce. The ascendance of Hispanics in the labor market is a seismic event, fundamentally changing the workplace and the nature of management–labor relations. Who are the Hispanics, what do they expect from their supervisors, and how do they see their obligations to their colleagues, co-workers, and employers? Chapter 1, “The Changed American Workforce,” examines the demographics transforming the American workplace. Chapter 2, “Who Is the Hispanic Employee?” explores the mosaic of peoples and cultures that constitute the Hispanic diaspora in the United States. Although they share the same fundamental cultural, social, historical, and linguistic “DNA,” there is tremendous variation within the “Hispanic” identity. Chapter 3, “Management and the Hispanic Outlook,” examines the survival of worldview and philosophies of the continent’s First Peoples in Hispanic society, and how the perspectives of Native American sensibilities inform how Hispanics, Latinos, and Latins see the world around them, the society in which they live, and their approach to life and work.
Part II is “The Strategies and Skills for Supervising Nonexempt Hispanic Employees.” Most Hispanics in the United States are hourly employees. These chapters explore their cultural, social, and other characteristics. Together, the section examines the strategies and skills for cultivating and empowering nonexempt Hispanic employees, whether these are found in factories, restaurants, hotels, agricultural production, retail operations, and so on. Throughout this section the winning strategies employed by successful firms are discussed and developed. Chapter 4, “Finding, Attracting, and Selecting the Best Hispanic Candidates,” discusses successful strategies for recruiting Hispanic, Latino, and Latin candidates, which, because of their language skills, remain in demand even in periods of economic contraction, simply because the American economy continues to evolve into a more fully bilingual consumer economy. Chapter 5, “How to Evaluate the Hispanic Employee’s Performance and Conduct,” offers insights on better strategies for measuring and appraising the work of members of the Hispanic diaspora, which is critical because traditional performance review systems are under scrutiny and are falling into disfavor. The final chapter in this section is Chapter 6, “Hispanics, Managers, and Labor Relations.” This chapter compares and contrasts how the collectivistic tradition of Hispanic society affects not only how exempt employees, but also how these cultural values are fueling the resurgence of unions, with nonexempt Hispanic, Latino, and Latin employees swelling union membership. In a value-neutral discussion, more successful strategies for labor relations are presented.
The final section is Part III, “The Hispanic Employee and the Organization’s Future.” From Miami to New York, Houston to Chicago, Hispanic executives are coming into their own, and their needs reflect the cultural, social, and business skills that they bring to the table. These chapters focus on the career needs of Hispanic, Latino, and Latin employees, discussing the Hispanic, Latino, and Latin employee in management positions. Hispanics as managers and executives are among the fastest growing segment throughout corporate America. Chapter 7, “How to Keep Hispanic Nonexempt Employees Challenged and Satisfied in the Workplace,” offers strategies for nurturing the majority of Hispanic, Latino, and Latin workers, who are nonexempt employees. Chapter 8, “Nurturing the Hispanic Exempt Professional,” examines how mentoring is the single most important tool for developing, cultivating, and nurturing Hispanic, Latino, and Latin employees for middle- and upper-management positions in ways that speak to their cultural traditions and are consistent with the values of the Hispanic diaspora. Chapter 9, “Training and Development: How Successful Managers Nurture their Hispanic Workforce,” approaches training from a culturally aware approach, where policies make “sense” to members of the Hispanic diaspora. The last chapter, Chapter 10, “Empowering the Hispanic Employee and an Organization’s Future,” examines medium-and long-term strategies for easing the transition to the demographic inevitability of twenty-first century America: a Hispanic plurality in the American workplace.
A Conclusion summarizes the discussion presented with a broad overview of the implications for the changed American labor market of the ascendance of Hispanic culture in the United States.
Table of ContentsA Note on the Nomenclature
Part I The Hispanic Employee and American Demographics
Chapter 1: The Changed American Workforce
Chapter 2: Who is the Hispanic Employee?
Chapter 3: Management and the Hispanic Outlook
Part II The Strategies and Skills for Supervising Non-Exempt Hispanic Employees
Chapter 4: Finding, Attracting and Selecting the Best Hispanic Candidates
Chapter 5: How to Evaluate the Hispanic Employee’s Performance and Conduct
Chapter 6: Hispanics, Managers and Labor Relations
Part III Managing the Salaried Hispanic Professional Successfully
Chapter 7: How to Keep Hispanic Non-Exempt Employees Challenged and Satisfied in the Workplace
Chapter 8: Nurturing the Hispanic Exempt Professional
Chapter 9: Training and Development: How Successful Managers Nurture their Hispanic Workforce
Chapter 10: Empowering the Hispanic Employee and an Organization’s Future
About the Author