Hispanic/Latino Millennials Bring Different Strengths to the Workplace

Greater retention comes with greater call for mentoring, consultant says

By Rena Gorlin Apr 6, 2017
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Di Ann Sanchez, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP

​As the Millennial generation expands throughout the workforce, employers are learning more about this cohort. Some tendencies associated with Millennials, such as job-hopping, do not necessarily apply to Hispanic/Latino Millennials, according to Di Ann Sanchez, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, of Hurst, Texas. For the past eight years, Sanchez has specialized in helping companies attract, retain, develop and promote high-performing Hispanic/Latino members of the Millennial generation. Her businesses, DAS HR Consulting LLC and Sanchez & Associates, are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Prior to consulting, she worked for several of the nation's biggest companies as a top HR leader.

Having worked with HR professionals from various generations and career stages, Sanchez said the diverse Millennial generation, which makes up 50 percent of the population, "shows us what the 21st century workplace will be like. Their diversity is overwhelming."

Within the larger cohort, smaller groups stand out, she said. "Millennials have a reputation for jumping jobs," a perennial challenge for HR, whose goal is "finding the right talent, then retaining them," Sanchez said. Hispanic/Latino Millennial employees, however, "are not job-hoppers. Their retention rates are higher." She aims to "teach employers that this is a very different group of people, and they're going to have to manage them differently."

Based on her experiences with clients as well as research she conducted from 2006 to 2013 for her doctoral dissertation, Sanchez found that Hispanic/Latino Millennials are unlike others of the same age in several respects. First, they tend to take on adult responsibilities, such as marrying and starting families, earlier in life. "So they look to their employer for stability, as a place to stay longer," she said. This is the main reason retention isn't an issue.

Second, Hispanics/Latinos need to "build their confidence in speaking up, to become more comfortable in the workplace." The reason lies in Hispanic/Latino culture, Sanchez said, which teaches that elders and other authority figures "are to be revered; they're not to be questioned. Mainstream Millennials are more irreverent." She cautions employers, however, not to mistake employees' reticence or silence as signs of weakness or incompetence.

Third, Sanchez said, Hispanic/Latino Millennials lack role models in the business world. They "need to see more people like them in corporate America, which can be a challenge—there's still not a lot of Hispanic/Latino representation in management positions, in the C-suite and at the board level, relative to their percentage in the workforce." Sanchez should know—she spent 30 years at the highest levels of U.S. business as vice president of people at Boeing, vice president of diversity and talent at American Airlines, and corporate vice president of human resources at United Natural Foods. "College-bound Hispanics/Latinos would benefit from mentoring to encourage their development," she said.

Teaching the Next Generation of HR Leaders

Now, working as a consultant, "I explain to businesses how to manage diversity in the global workforce," Sanchez said. "This relates to the SHRM competency of Global & Cultural Effectiveness. The competencies aren't just for Hispanics or Latinos or Millennials—they're universal." That understanding came to her during her training to teach SHRM certification preparation courses.

Sanchez obtained her SHRM-SCP via the online tutorial pathway three years ago, but in becoming an instructor, she "realized that the [SHRM] competencies are something all HR practitioners need." Sharing lessons she's learned on the job—whether as an executive or a teacher—helps students "build those competencies in real life. People learn by example, so trainers need to impart their own knowledge."

Sanchez said that HR practitioners and executives, in particular, "need to perfect their influence and facilitation skills in business environments." Those skills will help HR fulfill its responsibility for "having the workforce and intellectual capital [that enable executives] to run their businesses," she said.

Teaching cert prep courses led Sanchez to pursue an additional career in academia. She is an associate professor at Amberton University, in Garland and Frisco, Texas, and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas, Arlington. "SHRM certification is playing a role here, too," Sanchez said. "It helped me develop my 'Managing the Global Workforce' class. SHRM certification's content is part of the content we are teaching."

HR instructors have to stay up to date with the evolving world of work, Sanchez said, "so we have to be constantly learning. It's an exciting time for HR." Among the areas in which Sanchez foresees the greatest changes for the profession: work environment, career development, recruiting, retention, turnover costs, productivity, technology, conflict resolution, management facilitation and much more. "We have to be concerned about getting the most out of people, incentivizing them to perform," she said.

"SHRM certification is a good way to stay relevant, and maintaining my SHRM-SCP makes me more relevant as a professor," Sanchez said. She earns professional development credits (PDCs) toward recertification every time she teaches, goes to conferences, trains clients, does research to keep up her skills, or serves on SHRM's Global Expertise Panel. "It's what I do normally!" she said. "But even people who can't go to conferences can rely on their local SHRM chapters for information and activities that help them stay relevant—and get PDCs."

Rena Gorlin, J.D., is an independent writer and editor in Washington, D.C. 

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