6 Ways men can be better allies to Latinas in the workplace

In most industries, men still hold more leadership positions, privileges, and power. Men can help close these disparities by being advocates and allies to Latinas in the workplace. The first step is to acknowledge there is a problem.

Latinas have faced a steeper decline in employment (‑21 percent) throughout COVID-19 than other demographics of women and men. Additionally, Latinas still have the lowest earnings of any major race or ethnicity and gender group, earning on average, 43% less than white men and 28% less than white women. As of today, Latinas earn on average only 55 cents to the dollar paid to white, non-hispanic men. This wage gap has hardly moved in over 30 years. 

Additionally, many Latinas feel they cannot be authentic in the workplace with 77 percent of Latinos reporting they feel the need to repress parts of their identity to be taken seriously and respected. 

Male allies can help to dismantle these barriers and create an equal and inclusive environment by advocating for Latinas and using their privileges and power to make room for others at the table. A good ally is marked by action, not just words.

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.

6 Tips for men to become better allies to Latinas at work 

Ask Latinas specifically how you can help them within the workplace. Simply reaching out to know what Latinas need can go a long way. Are they seeking sponsorship or mentorship? More learning opportunities or resources? Knowing what the Latinas in your workplace need to succeed is the first step to helping and becoming a better ally and advocate. 

Speak up and “call out” other people if you see them abusing their power. As an ally you can help Latinas by speaking up and challenging those who discriminate and abuse their power. Many Latinas struggle to speak up against microaggressions and abuse of power because of fear of consequences, such as losing their position or facing greater injustices. Additionally, cultural stereotypes like marianismo place expectations on Latinas to be meek and submissive. By standing with your Latina colleagues you can help strengthen their voices and empower them through solidarity. 

Step back to make space for other voices. Men can be better allies to Latinas in the workplace by making space for their voices and perspectives, especially in male-dominated industries. By taking a step back and taking up less space in meetings and gatherings, men can give others a chance to speak and present their ideas, perspectives, and unique knowledge. In culturally diverse workplaces and global companies, diverse perspectives are crucial to reaching diverse audiences. 

Advocate for benefits and take parental leave. During the pandemic Latinas faced greater unemployment than other demographics and many were forced out of the workplace to assume caretaking responsibilities. This issue is widespread among women in general too, where many must make difficult decisions between being a caretaker or having a career. Men can support women and Latinas in the workplace by advocating for better benefits for parental leave and paid time off. Additionally, men can choose to take parental leave and work to break the assumption that only women can stay home and assume caretaking responsibilities. 

Celebrate the dads in your life this Father’s Day!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

Be transparent and mindful in your communication. Keeping lines of communication open with the women in your workplace, especially if you are in a leadership role, will help ensure the women in your workplace are included and informed about important decisions, tasks, and updates. Additionally, being mindful of how one communicates, biases that may accidentally work their way into communications, and combating those assumptions and stereotypes. Be mindful of how words can impact others and encourage others to speak up when you make mistakes. Open dialogues based on mutual respect will help foster a positive workplace environment for everyone. 

Give credit where credit is due. Many Latinas have a natural respect for authority, due to their cultural upbringing. This can make it challenging for Latinas to ask for credit where credit is due. Creating a space where all work and contributions are valued and proper credit is given will help to support Latinas in the workplace. Fostering an environment where Latinas feel comfortable to speak up, set boundaries, and communicate their needs is crucial to being a better ally to Latinas in the workplace. 

You might be interested: 4 Tips for Latina and minority women on setting boundaries in the workplace

Being good allies to Latinas in the workplace starts with action. Take some time to reflect on ways you can use your position to uplift the voices of others and dismantle unfair biases and stereotypes to foster an equal and inclusive environment for everyone. 

*This article contains affiliated links. If you use these links to buy an item, we may earn a small commission.

Lucy Pinto, Grow With Google, Google Digital Coaches

Americas’ opportunity and disparity sparked the career of Google Digital Coaches Manager Lucy Pinto

Lucy Pinto is the Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which works to level the field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to resources needed to grow online. The program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses and has trained over 80,000 businesses on digital tools to help them succeed.

Lucy Pinto

Lucy Pinto, Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program. (Photo courtesy Lucy Pinto)

Throughout Lucy’s 9 years with Google and prior, she has strived to create inclusive outcomes for communities who lack access to opportunities. This passion has guided her journey personally and professionally, stemming from her identity as a Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. at eight years old. 

“Coming from a low-income immigrant family living in the south, I was exposed very early on to a duality that perplexed me: this is a country of opportunity and disparity at the same time,” said Lucy. “I knew that if I wanted to help my community, I had to unapologetically go after opportunities then disseminate what I learn to others in my community who might not have the same access.” 

With this mission in mind, Lucy worked hard to attend college. She received her B.B.A. in Management and International Business from The University of Georgia in 2012–becoming the first in her family to graduate college. 

Before graduating, Lucy began her career at Google as an intern in 2011. Lucy highlights the importance of mentorship and development programs, such as the Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s Career Prep program, which helped prepare her to navigate Corporate America. 

While Lucy’s first role at Google was not related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, she made it a purpose to engage in this work outside of her core role at the time. She became active in various groups including Google’s Employee Resource Groups. From 2016-2018 Lucy served as the N.Y.C. Chapter Lead of HOLA –– the Hispanic Google Network — which is committed to representing the voice of the Latino community within and outside Google. 

Within a few years, Lucy attained a core role on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, enabling her to build a more equitable Google experience internally and externally. Now she works in Marketing where her work as Grow with Google’s Digital Coaches Manager focuses on amplifying Google’s best-in-class digital skills training to help Black and Latino business owners in the United States thrive. 

Additionally, Lucy has been the recipient of various awards for her work. In 2018, she was recognized as a Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility and recipient of the 2019 Negocios Now N.Y.C. Latinos 40 Under 40 award. On April 12, 2019, she was awarded a proclamation by the Westchester County Board of Legislators proclaiming April 12 as “Lucy Pinto Day” for her participation in the 100 Hispanic Women of Westchester Leadership Forum as well as her professional and community work. 

Lucy Pinto

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Lucy Pinto speaks onstage during the PowHERful Benefit Gala on June 13, 2018 at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for PowHERful Foundation)

One career highlight that stands out for Lucy was managing the participation of hundreds of employees in volunteer initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide across 15 countries —such as South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Nigeria— which reached 135K people. 

“The activation in South Africa stood out to me because I was able to attend it in person and witness first-hand the impact of our work. We partnered with a local organization called MOOV and had about 50+ employees from the Black Googler Network connect with 250+ job seekers and entrepreneurs from Soweto,” said Lucy. 

Soweto residents face many systemic barriers deeply rooted in the country’s history with apartheid, and they often look to entrepreneurship to make a living for themselves and their families. The activation focused on delivering digital skills training to help job seekers build resumes and help business owners reach customers online.

“To me personally, this activation had some of the most heartfelt stories and testimonials that I’ve come across in my career.” 

Navigating obstacles in the workplace 

 As a Latina in the workplace, Lucy approaches matters through a multicultural lens. For many Latinas, this lens can be advantageous because it can help a company identify inclusion gaps in marketing or hiring, and help build innovative solutions that authentically reach diverse audiences. 

“Being a Latina in the workplace can give you a cultural intelligence edge. You’ll likely have a unique perspective on how to make products and programs more inclusive thanks to your own diverse and innovative lived experiences,” she says. 

Throughout her years of experience working in leadership roles and aiding entrepreneurs on their journeys, Lucy has also learned many important lessons and strategies for tackling career obstacles and challenges. While career development training is essential, there is nothing like hands-on experience. 

Lucy recalls a time in her career when she faced a challenge with a co-worker. Lucy received some critical feedback that misrepresented who she was as a professional, and miscommunication about the issue led to hurt feelings. 

“This peer didn’t give me the feedback directly but rather shared such with their manager, leaving me feeling betrayed, perplexed, and concerned about my career trajectory. I spoke in detail with my work mentors, including my manager, about the issue. I felt vulnerable and wanted to get validation from people who worked close to me,” Lucy recounts. 

Lucy Pinto, Grow with Google, Google Digital Coaches

“To work effectively and influence peers, be it management or leadership, communication is key,” says Google Digital Coaches Program Manager, Lucy Pinto. (Photo courtesy Lucy Pinto)

After speaking to her manager, he highlighted something she had never considered before: communication style differences. 

This perspective shed new light on the situation and how the misunderstanding had arisen. Communication styles are often shaped by one’s upbringing, culture, and current circumstances. Lucy describes herself as an analytical thinker who loves to reflect on ideas out loud and work through pros and cons on the spot. 

“This is my default way of brainstorming, much like my family and I did at the dinner table. After speaking with my manager, I realized that the issue’s root was the extreme difference in communication styles. I wasn’t acting how my coworker perceived, nor was my perception of my co-worker accurate. It was just that my co-worker and I spoke in different communication languages.”

Lucy thought she was simply analyzing her co-worker’s proposal and pressure testing it with questions. Her co-worker interpreted this as Lucy shutting down her ideas and being territorial with their collaborative project. 

After taking a communication style assessment to understand better where she and her co-worker’s styles fell on the range, they discovered they indeed had very different styles. They were able to use this assessment as a framework to guide their conversation and work through their differences, build rapport, and ultimately work effectively together.

“What I learned from this challenge was something super valuable to my career: to work effectively and influence peers, be it management or leadership, communication is key,” said Lucy. 

“Understanding your own communication style and how to stretch it to get your desired outcome is crucial. It doesn’t mean that you have to change your default communication style, but you do have to strike a balance, especially when you’re attempting to influence decision-making.”

Lucy Pinto

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Soledad O’Brien (L) and Lucy Pinto speak onstage during the PowHERful Benefit Gala on June 13, 2018 at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for PowHERful Foundation)

Another lesson Lucy has learned and imparts to other entrepreneurs and career-driven women is remembering that the journey is not always linear or upward. 

“Your career might be full of twists, turns, lateral moves, and balancing out personal with professional. Find beauty and learn from this ‘chaos’ as it will equip you to have the breadth needed to be an effective thought leader.” 

Finally, make time to periodically check in with yourself on what success looks like to you as you progress in your career. You may find that your definition of success has changed over time, and that’s okay!

“Does your definition of success mean making it to a C-suite position, or do you feel more fulfilled by a constant change in scope regardless of title? It’s important to keep YOU at the center of it,” Lucy advises. “Don’t measure your success by the definition of others but rather by your own terms.”

You might be interested: Latinas are underrepresented in law, says attorney Anna María Tejada

4 ways to get more Black and Latino teachers in K-12 public schools

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor of Education at University of California, Berkeley, shares 4 ways to encourage diversity in public schools. 

Black children are more likely to score higher on standardized tests and finish high school and want to attend college, and less likely to be suspended, if they have a Black teacher. Similarly, studies show that Latino students who have a Latino teacher are more likely to want to take advanced coursework.

This data reflects earlier research on Black and Latino teachers and the positive social and emotional experiences they create for their students.

Education historian Vanessa Siddle Walker writes about how, even before the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision in 1954, Black teachers and principals provided their students with tools and a framework to navigate a society that was anti-Black. And renowned education researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings explains Black teachers’ capacity to draw on their own experiences as Black people in the U.S. and incorporate their Black students’ cultural experiences into the classroom.

Given the added value of teachers of color, a pressing problem remains: There is a considerable demographic mismatch between teachers and students of color in the U.S. While teachers of color represent 21% of public school educators, students of color account for more than 52% of public school students.

As an education researcher, I study the experiences of teachers of color. Here are four ways to get more teachers from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds in K-12 classrooms.

1. Focus on retention

Policymakers, school principals and philanthropies have spent a great deal of resources on recruiting teachers of color. And those efforts have paid off. More Black and Latino teachers are entering the teacher workforce.

The story now is one of retention.

Teachers of color leave the profession and move to other schools at a higher rate than their white peers. An analysis of nine school districts found that Black teachers in particular have higher turnover rates than their white and Latino peers. For example, the number of Black teachers in Chicago Public Schools decreased by 39% between 2002 and 2011, compared to a 3% decrease in white teachers and a 6% increase in Latino teachers during the same period.

2. Improve leadership, work conditions

Historically, researchers believed that teachers in urban schools that predominantly serve children of color left their schools because they did not want to work with those students. But teachers don’t leave their students; teachers leave their principals.

Principals create the working conditions that lead to turnover by not supporting teachers or providing the resources they need to work with their students.

To ensure that principals instead create conditions that help teachers of color thrive, they need high-quality preparation. This preparation should include a focus on how to support new teachers as well as work collegially with students, caregivers and teachers.

Model programs that continue to do this work are The Leadership Academy and the Principal Leadership Institute at University of California, Berkeley.

latino students,

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

3. Fund schools equitably

To retain teachers of color, districts have to improve the working conditions in their schools. One way to do this is to fund schools more equitably.

Some states, like California, have a more progressive, equitable funding formula. That means schools that have a significant number of students who are unhoused, adopted, qualify for free or reduced lunch, or speak English as a second language get more money and resources.

Other states, like New York and Illinois, which are home to some of our country’s largest public school districts, have more regressive funding formulas. Since public schools are primarily funded by local property taxes, students who live in high-income communities across New York State, for example, attend more well-resourced schools than children living in low-income communities. Legal efforts to dismantle this separate and unequal funding system are ongoing.

You might be interested: 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges

4. Redesign teacher training

The U.S. has a wide variety of teacher preparation programs. There’s no common framework for thinking about how to prepare people to become teachers.

Furthermore, in states like California and Texas, after two months of preparation a new teacher can teach children in historically marginalized communities. Given where these teachers are placed, it is clear that school districts, like Oakland Public Schools, will hire those new educators.

Placing the most inexperienced teachers in schools with the most challenging working conditions increases turnover.

What stands in the way of getting more Black and Latino teachers in classrooms is not a clear understanding of the problem, but the courage to act on what we already know.

[Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter.]The Conversation

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

latinas in the workplace

How business leaders can spur diversity in the workplace 

A study conducted by The UPS Store identifies key strategies business leaders can utilize to drive diversity in the workplace.

The spotlight on inequality is driving increased dialogue and inspiring change on social and cultural levels, and the same is true of the business community.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, just 18% of businesses in the U.S. are minority-owned, even though minorities make up almost 40% of the population. However, a study conducted by The UPS Store, Inc. shows small businesses and their customers are also doing their part to promote inclusion and diversity.

Among small business owners with employees, 47% are actively trying to increase the diversity of their workforce, according to the survey. This momentum is particularly evident among younger small business owners, ages 18-45 (58%).

Strategies business leaders can use to continue promoting diversity in the workplace:

Communicating clearly about expectations

Set a policy of zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior and communicate it clearly throughout your business. Conduct a thorough audit of your typical communication channels to ensure your message is clear and consistent so there is no confusion about your expectations. This can include emails, signage and orientation materials. It’s important to recognize this won’t be a one-and-done exercise. Commit to issuing periodic reminders to reinforce your expectation for an inclusive culture.

Leading by example

Once your expectations have been defined, it’s up to you to demonstrate how they should be followed. This means taking stock of your business and any areas where you may not be upholding these standards. Ask for input from trusted advisors. You might even consider an audit by a third party to identify any discrepancies. Chances are, you’ll find at least one or two areas for improvement. Take swift and decisive action to make necessary changes, whether it means updating policies, modifying recruitment practices or other adjustments.

Creating programs that support minorities

One way businesses can turn intent into action is to create programs specifically designed to encourage minority participation. When it comes to inclusive ownership, franchising is leading compared to other industries, with nearly one-third (30.8%) of franchises being minority-owned compared to 18.8% of non-franchised businesses, according to an International Franchise Association study. One example is The UPS Store Minority Incentive Program, which provides eligible participants nearly $15,000 off the franchise fee for their first center.

This program, which applies to Asian, Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American franchisee candidates, is both an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and a solution meant to help consumers support minority-owned businesses. In addition, these new franchise owners will open a new store design with a focus on modern, tech-forward and open concept features. To learn more about the program and apply, visit*

Making training relevant for your business

The concept of diversity training isn’t new for many businesses, but it may be time to reassess your approach. Reciting a list of generic best practices to a senior leadership team does not constitute as training. Instead, consider creating a training session (or better yet, a series) that addresses the unique nuances of your business and culture. Work to incorporate principles of inclusion that relate to specific scenarios your staff may encounter and involve everyone at each level of the organization in the training.

Eliminating practices that exclude certain groups

Many traditional business practices completely overlook the good that can be gained from a more inclusive approach. In some cases, such as creating a time-off policy that accommodates holidays across different cultures, the benefits are in the form of employee morale. In other cases, such as flexible schedules for working parents, it may be the difference between successfully hiring the best candidate versus settling on someone who may not be the best fit for the position.

Implementing feedback systems

Learning better and doing better is an ongoing process, not a project to check off as completed. Part of refining your culture and creating a truly inclusive environment is enabling employees to report their concerns without fear of repercussions. Engaging your workforce, asking for input and genuinely listening may alert you to areas for improvement you never knew existed.

Creating a more inclusive workplace won’t happen overnight, but taking necessary steps can benefit your business as well as your workforce.

Leverage Consumer Support of Minority Business Owners

As the pandemic recedes, small business owners and entrepreneurs are still looking to receive support from their communities and peers.

A majority of consumers have committed within the past year to buy more products and services from small businesses, according to a survey by The UPS Store, Inc. In particular, consumers indicated plans to buy more from women-owned, Black-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

For entrepreneurial business leaders who aspire to own their own businesses, resources are available to help achieve that goal while providing consumers another avenue for supporting these types of businesses.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

One example is The UPS Store Minority Incentive Program, which offers eligible participants approximately 50% off the franchise fee. The program provides individuals the opportunity to turn their dreams of small-business ownership into reality by offering established brand strength, world-class training programs and a strong network of successful, helpful franchisees.

*This information is not intended as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy a franchise. It is for informational and design purposes only. The UPS Store, Inc. will not offer you a franchise unless and until it has complied with the applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your state, as applicable, and provided you with a Franchise Disclosure Document. Franchise offerings are made by Franchise Disclosure Documents only.

Source: The UPS Store

boardroom, workplace,

Driscoll’s appoints two Latinas as new board members

The Greenwich, Conn-based RSR Partners recently assisted fresh berry provider Driscoll’s in the recruitment of two Latinas as new board members.  

RSR Partners assists in board members recruitment

RSR Partners was founded by Russell S. Reynolds Jr. in 1993, and offers any number of vertical specializations, including consumer goods and services, hospitality, industrial, financial services, retail, board, CEOs, CFOs, CHROs, chief information officers, chief marketing officers, sport leadership, risk, board recruiting, board advisory, management consulting and more.  

Gretchen Crist, who leads the firm’s human capital and consumer goods and services practices, conducted the search for the two new board members. With over 20 years of experience as a senior human resources executive in private equity and public company environments, she has recruited numerous professionals into top human resources roles as well as C-suite and senior executives into various leadership roles. 

Latinas Giannella Alvarez and Graciela Monteagudo join Driscoll’s board 

With the help of RSR Partners, Giannella Alvarez, former CEO and director of the board at Beanitos, and Graciela Monteagudo, the former president and CEO of LALA U.S., were recruited as Driscoll’s new board members. Two very accomplished Latina professionals, they both bring a plethora of expertise and experience to the board. 

Giannella Alvarez, Latina board member

Driscoll’s new Latina board member, Giannella Alvarez (Photo: Business Wire)

Giannella Alvarez brings to the Driscoll’s board 35-years of experience across a wide range of industries in the United States, Latin America, and Europe, having led multi-billion-dollar brands for Fortune 100 companies including Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company in senior executive positions. She served as Group President and CEO for Barilla Americas, a Division of Barilla S.p.A., as well as President and CEO of organic food start-ups, including Harmless Harvest Inc. Named one of 2019’s Most Influential Corporate Board Directors by Women Inc., Alvarez is also an experienced public company board director. She brings a deep expertise in marketing, innovation, business scaling and global expansion as well as a passion for food, health and wellness, sustainability and equality, with her experience as an Advisory Board Member of New York University’s Stern School Center for Sustainable Business.

“Giannella is a highly creative and decisive leader who has a proven track record of talent building and energizing organizations across countries, customers and channels,” said J. Miles Reiter, Driscoll’s Chairman and CEO. “Her significant on-the-ground international experiences will serve as an invaluable asset as Driscoll’s continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.”

Graciela Monteagudo, Latina board member

Driscoll’s new Latina board member, Graciela Monteagudo (Photo: Business Wire)

Graciela Monteagudo built her 30-year executive career at multinational Fortune 500 companies across the consumer products, healthcare and retail industries. She has significant experience in general management roles, previously leading multi-billion-dollar corporations including SVP and Business Unit Head for Sam’s Club in Mexico, and President, Americas and Global Marketing for Mead Johnson Nutrition Americas. She most recently served as CEO and President of LALA U.S. a leading Hispanic Dairy Company owned by Grupo LALA, one of the top 10 dairy companies in North America. Monteagudo is an experienced public company board director who has also been spotlighted in the 2019 Latino Leaders Magazine Latinos on Board report and the 2020 Best of the Boardroom feature of Hispanic Executive Magazine. She brings to the board a diverse perspective regarding domestic and international markets, digital marketing/ecommerce , Hispanic and Latin American consumers, as well as a demonstrated capability in strategic planning, M&A, diversity/inclusion and cultural transformation.

“Graciela’s expertise in addressing the Mexican consumer and retail environment will be invaluable to Driscoll’s as we navigate increasing consumer demand in this important growth market,” shared Reiter. “Her experience in consumer brands, especially in the health and nutrition sector, will bolster Driscoll’s capability and success in markets around the globe.”

You might be interested: 7 Benefits of having women in companies

The new board appointments collectively bring strong brand growth expertise and a clear future-looking vision that will help Driscoll’s accelerate its mission, which is to delight berry consumers with the best tasting berries today and for many years to come.

About Driscoll’s 

Driscoll’s is the global market leader of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. With more than 100 years of farming heritage, Driscoll’s is a pioneer of berry flavor innovation and the trusted consumer brand of Only the Finest Berries™. With more than 900 independent growers around the world, Driscoll’s develops exclusive patented berry varieties using only traditional breeding methods that focus on growing great tasting berries. A dedicated team of agronomists, breeders, sensory analysts, plant pathologists and entomologists help grow baby seedlings that are then grown on local family farms. Driscoll’s now serves consumers year-round across North America, Australia, Europe and China in over twenty-two countries. As a fourth-generation grower and the son of one of Driscoll’s founders, J. Miles Reiter serves as Chairman and CEO.

diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

6 Benefits of top management diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

The hospitality and tourism industry employs a diverse workforce yet at a senior level there are still issues of equality. Diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry is frequent in lower paid, less skilled jobs. However, senior positions at board level such as CEOs, CFOs and upper management career track are short in minority representation, clearly an issue for the industry’s future and development of skilled workers mirroring its market base.

diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

Minority workers usually get low-paying entry level jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry

When I travel for work or pleasure or attend a conference in the United States, I know I have a great advantage over other attendants and travelers: I speak Spanish.

Hardly I have travelled to any American state that I have not encountered a smiley Latina or Latino willing to go the extra mile to make me feel at home in a hotel or restaurant. The minute I ask, “¿Habla español?” the big smile is there and communication channels open up.

The conversation can go from guessing each other’s nationality to soccer to places I have visited in their country of origin. And they always want to know more about what I do and how I made it there. Inevitably, I feel welcomed, a bond that builds customer loyalty and the desire to be back to that particular place in the near future.

Any major hotel manager or restaurateur’s dream is an organically developed workforce of brand Ambassadors who are proud of their identity, their role in the workplace and interested in their guests’ well-being. Isn’t it?

Now imagine this same effect catapulted from an executive level, transferring their cultural knowledge and perspective from the top down to provide guests with appropriate services included in a strategic and concerted management policy? A win-win situation!

Importance of diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

Lack of career opportunities and discrimination are some of the factors preventing minorities to climb the hospitality and tourism corporate ladder.

The United States Department of Commerce statistics estimated that a total of over 75 million tourists from different parts of the world visited the U.S. in 2014 with a total spending of $220 billion. The US dominates the global markets with a 15 percent share ahead of countries such as France and Spain.

Statistics also show that 8 million people are employed in the travel and tourism industry and the report further reported that 1.2 million of those jobs are linked directly and supported with international tourists. These statistics confirm just how diverse the workforce composition in the industry needs to be.

Certified Diversity Meeting Professionals Class of 2015 at Atlantic City, NJ

You might be interested: Travel industry presents booming opportunities for Hispanic meeting planners

Benefits of diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

Workplace diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry is therefore a key factor in facilitating cultural exchange on a global level. Here are some benefits to expanding diversity into the management workforce:

  1. The industry presents a unique opportunity to learn new cultural experiences for both employees and tourists. Personnel needs to be trained in the respect and appreciation of differences to enhance the nature of their interactions with guests of varied cultures, religions, races, creeds, colors, ages, genders and sexual orientations.
  2. This cultural knowledge cannot be left in the hands of personnel who even with the best intentions, might not completely appreciate and accommodate people from around the world. Only individuals with a diverse background in higher management positions can design a corporate vision that not only facilitates understanding of different cultural and social behaviors but also enhances the delivery of satisfactory services through communication and observation.
  3. In such competitive environment, diversity at higher levels –which should be the most visible face of the corporation–also enables businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry to nurture and portray a positive image of inclusiveness –equal employment opportunities for all without regard to race, gender, age, nationality or any other diversity marker.
  4. Diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry is crucial. Recruitment from a talent pool also needs a clear vision into diversity. If employers in hospitality and tourism continue to carry a reputation for a lack of diversity at a senior level, talented employees from minority groups will be hesitant to enter the industry. People will certainly not gravitate towards organizations that have a track record of discrimination.
  5. Studies highlight that developing a diverse workforce at all levels can create a competitive advantage for a business, improving staff moral while increasing levels of worker retention. In the hospitality industry specifically, where customers are sourced from across the globe, a diverse workforce allows employees to bring a stronger cultural insight and understanding of the clients they are serving.
  6. With the staggering growth of social media, the hotel and tourism industry is one of the most exposed industries out there. Any detail or any complaint can go viral in a matter of minutes. Companies need to be prepared to deal with such type of reputation crisis which definitely hurts their branding efforts.
diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

Jeffrey W. Montague, Associate Vice Dean, School of Tourism & Hospitality Management at Temple University.

“Acquiring diverse talent into the hospitality corporate market place initiates a few progressive thoughts: innovation and creativity from a much different cultural perspective; secondly, minority management talent will provide more of a cultural sensitivity perspective when managing a diverse work force,” said Jeffrey W. Montague, Associate Vice Dean, School of Tourism & Hospitality Management at Temple University.

The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD), the Hispanic Hotel Owners Association (HHOA), International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals (IAHMP) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) are some of several organizations attempting to address this issue by linking people of color with hospitality company sponsors, industry representatives, hospitality organizations, advisors, and mentors to support the leadership pipeline for minorities in the industry.

The benefits of diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry including increased levels of employee retention, recruiting from a wider talent pool and developing a competitive advantage are all essential for any business. Subsequently, promoting diversity at board levels in the hospitality and tourism industry continues to be the treasure yet to be discovered.


diversity in the hospitality and tourism industry

From SKYFT (

Rachel Dolezal, NCCP leader, before and after

The Dolezal case: Can a White person be a diversity leader?

Rachel Dolezal, NCCP leader, before and after

Rachel Dolezal, NCCP leader, before and after

A few days ago, the American public was shocked with the news that Rachel Dolezal, a 37-year-old woman heading a local NAACP chapter in Washington, had been misleadingly portraying herself as a black woman, her mother revealed.

I remembered then a short paragraph of my book, “¡Hola, amigos! A Plan for Latino Outreach” in which I discussed the question title of this article: Can a White person be a diversity leader?

“Regardless of race or ethnicity,” I said in 2010, “people from different backgrounds have a genuine interest in promoting diversity. However, White people might experience exclusion by some people of color, who may distrust the motives of a White person who promotes diversity or feel the person does not have the credibility to be a diversity leader—I have personally experienced this issue because I’m a White Latina from Argentina” (Baumann, page 36).

For clarification purposes, my background of origin goes back to Switzerland and Poland on my father’s side and Italy –all “spaghetti” – on my mother’s side: Comotto, Comini, Bellatti, Bellini.

“Country of origin or nationality might be another obstacle to diversity leadership,” I continued to say. “Some people of color might consider themselves natural diversity leaders because they have resided for a long time in a community or because they feel they have seniority in diversity issues.”

Belonging to a particular race or origin does not instantaneously turns you out to be a qualified diversity leader, nor does your country of origin. I have heard some diversity leaders of main academic institutions who identify themselves as “brown” refusing to admit that I was Caucasian. “You are ‘brown’, I was told.”

Does it really matter?

I had also the same situation at a conference, where the speaker was pointing out diversity issues related to “brown” people. I had to bring up again my “whiteness,” which made me somehow uncomfortable and put the speaker in an embarrassing situation.

I am unaware of the motives for Dolezal to publicly lie- if that is the case- about her race. Was she trying to gain an advantage in her career or was she confronted with the same situation, her “whiteness” being a major obstacle in her advocacy efforts?

For sure, such convoluted situation can bring frustration and discouragement to anyone who truly believes in advocating for diversity. When this type of situation happens in the workplace, it is necessary to review the elements that make us all diverse, which are not limited to race, color, or national origin. Gender, age, abilities, religion, sexual preferences, and other variables make us all diverse in many ways.

Most importantly, becoming an advocate for diversity does not disqualify any race or ethnicity. Moreover, being White is just another shade in the diversity rainbow.

However, the dominance and privilege of certain race over others is the matter of discussion, and diversity competency in the workplace should be a number one priority in ensuring a fair game.

“Acquiring diversity competency in the workplace not only has to do with recognizing issues of disparities, but also with issues of equality,” I said.  “You need to find out how you can bring everybody to an equal playing field so all have the same opportunities. Discover the issues in your workplace, and bring them to an open discussion in the training context.”

A productive way to promote diversity leadership and support your staff in becoming diversity leaders is to encourage them to participate in the community they serve, no matter the race, ethnicity or any other diversity qualifier they might carry. Companies must mirror the communities they reach out to, and that mirror needs to be reflected at all levels of the company.

Anybody can advocate for a more open, equitable society if they sincerely believe and live that truth every day.

What is your opinion on this matter? Is Dolezal right or wrong?