Commentary

Hispanic Marketing Success Starts With Corporate Leadership

Every time I speak with someone about Hispanic marketing, it is clear there is a huge disconnect between understanding the importance of reaching Hispanics and actually doing so. Marketers see the huge potential of this consumer group, so where is the disconnect? I turned to Tara Jaye Frank, corporate culture advisor and CEO with TJF Career Modeling, for her thoughts. Tara is an expert in Hispanic marketing; prior to TJF, she chartered and led Hallmark Cards’ Multicultural Center of Excellence, and currently acts as Hallmark's corporate culture advisor, reporting to the president. 

According to Tara, “Few companies would deny the importance of the growing Hispanic market to their long-term business success. Additionally, many claim that accelerating their diversity and inclusion initiatives are a top priority, and will draw parallels, appropriately, between the marketplace needs and the representation needs. This parallel is usually described in this way: ‘We want our workforce to reflect our consumers.’

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“However, companies are making sluggish progress on increasing representation of Hispanics in their employee ranks, especially at the leadership level. Hispanics comprise more than 17% of the U.S. population, and remain underrepresented in business, where their voices and ideas can add differentiated value to strategic priorities,” Tara said.

Below are the current statistics for Hispanic leadership in corporate America, as reported by 2014 DMBA ILI, based on 300 U.S. companies with an average size of 30,000 employees:

  • 3% of C-level positions (that report to CEO) are held by Hispanic employees
  • 4% of executive vice president or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics
  • 6% of vice presidents or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics
  • 15% of directors or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics
  • 9% of middle managers or similarly defined positions are held by Hispanics
  • 9% of the employee base (all non-exempt; non part-time) is Hispanic

There are very few Hispanics at the highest levels of their organizations. High-level representation does a couple of things:

1. High-level representation ensures that the case for diversity stays top of mind in critical conversations—it is seldom an afterthought for the person who lives it every day.

2. It gives other Latino employees a reason to believe they have growth potential at the company, which has been tied directly to issues of engagement and retention. What’s missing at the corporate level is an innate consciousness.

Tara went on to explain, “Companies need to understand that marketplace and workforce are two sides of the same coin. We all have the data, but those who are in-culture can feel when a strategy makes sense, when a message is the right tone or not, and know how to build long-standing relationships with Hispanics by leaning into their beliefs and values. I’ve found it’s easier for smart, learning-agile people from any background to assess potential based on present or past indicators, but in-culture talent has a feel for the tide before it turns, enabling vision and innovation.”

How can companies address this disconnect?

Make room for new ideas: Help leaders see the gaps in their knowledge by immersing them in experiences outside of their own. The more people understand the breadth of consumer needs, preferences and concerns that exist, the more open they become to ideas that don’t naturally occur to them. 

Creating value through relationships: Strategic partners are especially important and help broaden perspectives. Identifying your core competencies and clarifying your gaps associated with Hispanic marketing enables targeted connections. 

Identifying opportunities for business growth: By connecting a company’s value proposition to the real and present needs of consumers, knowing where they exist in the marketplace and how to target them distinctively, and creating platforms that show them they’re more than a number to you, you can create lasting connections that deepen over time—resulting in the loyalty all great brands desire.

It’s not enough to prepare your diverse leaders if you don't demand a more supportive culture and hold people accountable for delivering inclusion goals. While leadership development programs and flexible pools that give people a chance to find their “fit” are enabling, unconscious bias training to help leaders understand their blind spots and tangible representation goals are just as necessary.  
As Tara explained, “A company can do any one of these things, but it’s leadership development, inclusive culture and relationships that create sustainable change.”

2 comments about "Hispanic Marketing Success Starts With Corporate Leadership".
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  1. Marcelo Salup from MS Group LLC, March 8, 2016 at 12:44 p.m.

    Seriously? Selling greeting cards makes you an expert in Hispanics? Or is it being CEO of a modeling agency? Also, are these three "learnings" new? (1) Make room for new ideas, (2) create values through relationships, (3) Identify opportunities for business growth.

    How about interviewing real Latino businessmen who have built real Latino businesses? Or mainstream businesses like McDonald's who have created real Hispanic efforts?

  2. Christopher Blair from SynCom Media Group, Inc. replied, March 8, 2016 at 1:22 p.m.

    How are  Anglos experts in "Hispanic" marketing?  I'm sorry, but I own and run a Hispanic TV station and radio but I would hesitate to call myself an expert; I'm merely someone learnig something new every day.

    My Mexican partners are the "experts", this article is a bit lame.

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