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Should Hispanic Professionals Pursue Careers with Companies Lacking Strong Diversity Policies?

Question:

“What would be your advice for a Hispanic professional to further his career if an opportunity arises in a company that offers a great career opportunity, but they may not have a strong diversity policy?

My experience with my last employer (a Fortune 500 company) was very productive, and I reached some professional and diversity goals. I led the Latino Employee Network Group, and I became a Sr. Art Director in three of the company’s business groups serving worldwide markets. Now I am seeking the next opportunity to take my career to the next level, and wonder how I can still leverage the same passion for Latino issues. I am finding out not all companies place the same importance on diversity.”
Answer:
First of all, congratulations for all your accomplishments and for keeping your Latino heritage close to your heart through it all.
I believe that you should focus on your expertise and experience first and let your passion for Hispanic culture follow naturally. By the information you’ve shared, you are most certainly an outstanding art director, more than able to go head-to-head with the best in your profession. Up until now, you have been blessed with the opportunity of incorporating your love for Latino issues into your daily work.

If the next step on your career path doesn’t seem to have the same sabor you’ve become accustomed to, don’t let this immediately make you look elsewhere. If there is a professional opportunity that seems to be a great career move except for the inclusion of a strong focus on Hispanic issues, you should absolutely pursue it.

Worse case scenario, you land a great job that does not consider your experience in the Latino market relevant.

The good news is that you have the track record to prove how embracing the Latino market has a direct positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Not only that, you know exactly what needs to be done to achieve it. This is valuable information your new employer will eventually come to appreciate, even if they don’t realize its full potential at present.

You must become an ambassador for the Hispanic community at your new workplace, even if no one at the company knows you are incorporating this into your job description. It will require more than just a little effort on your part. You need to excel in your work while at the same time constantly search for specific ways your employer can begin reaching out to Latinos as potential employees or clients. After you have established yourself as a valuable company asset by doing what you were hired to do, then it is time to bring your ambassador role out in the open and begin to lobby your way into your perfect job, which will include your passion for Hispanic issues.

I am talking from experience. When I first came to the U.S., it was to fill a position within a company that was solely serving the general market, with no intention whatsoever of reaching out to minorities. As I have jokingly mentioned before, at the very early stages, my Hispanic Heritage was only appreciated when it was time to order from the Mexican restaurant! I went through the exact set of steps mentioned above and was blessed to accomplish what I set out to do.

If you view the lack of a strong diversity policy at a given company as a worthy challenge to face and overcome, you may find even more fulfillment in the long run. And this stepping stone on your professional journey could open the door for other Latinos.

Keep on making us proud!

Juan Tornoe


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