Ricardo González, founder and CEO of Bilingual America and a Roofing Contractor columnist, provided insights on recruiting, hiring, training and retaining Latino workers in his session titled “Success With Hispanics.” González issued some practical advice designed to help employers improve communication and bridge cultural differences at the office and on the jobsite.
He began his session with some statistics from the U.S. census, noting that the population grew approximately 2.5 million people in the last year, and that 50 percent of that growth figure is made up of Hispanics. González indicated that most of the population growth reflects people who are already U.S. citizens, not immigrants. He noted that the average American is 38.5 years old and has 1.2 children, while the average Latino is 24 and has three children.
“The world is becoming bilingual,” said González. “Your competitors will be bilingual and your market will be bilingual. If you’re not ready, your competitors will take your labor force. If you’re a leader of Hispanics, you must learn Spanish. You cannot be a leader if you cannot communicate. You cannot elevate and motivate people if you do not speak their language.”
González used the analogy of a football coach tailoring his system to the skills of his players to provide insight into business management. “Stop trying to change them and start appreciating their culture,” he stated. “Take the talent you have and set up a scheme to match that talent.” When it comes to recruiting, the analogy of a football team still applies. Just as coaches have to draft players to fill certain positions, companies must hire in balance to fill their key roles in the labor force as well as in management positions. “You have to hire in proportion to your true needs,” he said.
After an employee is hired, safety training must be a top priority, and González pointed to statistics indicating that eight Latinos get hurt on the job for every Anglo who gets injured to argue that companies are failing to provide adequate training for their Spanish-speaking workers. “I believe the No. 1 responsibility is to send our workers home safely at night,” said González, who urged contactors to hold subs accountable. “Real roofing contractors hire real employees, train them and pay them a fair wage. We’re dealing with people’s lives and families here.”