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Top 10 Ways to Attract and Retain Latino Employees and Customers; Dr. Robert Rodriguez of Capella University Explores How Developing an Effective ''Employment Brand'' Can Help Businesses Connect with the Latino Market

The trend is clear and the ramifications are obvious: U.S. Census data show that Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group, representing the largest minority in the country. Today, there are approximately 42 million Latinos in the United States, which represents approximately 1 in every 8 residents - by 2008, 1 in every 5 will be Latino.

The Census numbers also show that the buying power of Latinos in the United States today stands at more than $800 billion. This will rise to more than $1 trillion by 2008.

What is not so clear is how businesses can best respond to this demographic shift and the growing economic power of Latinos. What should businesses do to attract and retain Latino employees? How can businesses build brand awareness and loyalty among potential Latino customers?

Dr. Robert Rodriguez, Chairman of the Board for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, and Faculty Chair in the School of Business at Capella University, has extensively studied what works and what doesn't work in successfully attracting both Latino employees and customers.

"With the tremendous growth of the Latino demographic in the Unites States, companies are realizing that Latinos have a lot of purchasing power. So companies want to tap into this market, but they are recognizing that in order to do that they need more Latinos working within their organizations that understand the Latino culture. It's hard to market effectively to Latinos if you don't have any Latinos in your marketing department," he says. "Latinos tend to be brand conscious and brand loyal when it comes to making purchasing decisions, so organizations with a strong employment brand will benefit. Employment branding does not refer to an organization's products or services, but instead to an organization's reputation as an employer."

Dr. Rodriguez adds that employment branding is particularly important due to the fact that traditional recruiting strategies used by employers don't tend to work in reaching the Latino talent pool.

The following are the top 10 ways Dr. Rodriguez says businesses can attract and retain Latino employees and ultimately Latino customers:

1. Employers need to understand the complexity of the Latino demographic and must develop tailored approaches in reaching out to different Latino communities. Never assume what appeals to one segment of the Latino population will work with another.

2. Leverage Latino employee affinity groups for recruiting purposes. The word-of-mouth and connections of existing Latino employees are powerful assets.

3. Learn about and be sensitive to the intricacies of various aspects of Latino culture. For example, employers should know the differences between the terms Latino, Hispanic, Chicano and Baricua.

4. Seek out and consult with Latino leaders in your communities. Again, the positive word-of-mouth these leaders can foster and the connections they have are invaluable.

5. Show that while you value education and ethnicity, you still reward your employees based on their performance.

6. Place talented Latinos in senior positions. It sends an incredibly strong signal.

7. Get involved in the local Latino community. Sponsor events, celebrate holidays, be very visible and supportive.

8. Partner with academic institutions with high Latino student populations. It's never too early to show your support and build visibility among the next generation of Latino professionals.

9. Human Resources should partner with marketing to ensure consistent messages and leverage every opportunity to reach out to Latinos.

10. Partner with Latino associations and professional groups to build awareness among Latino communities and build strong networking ties.

The issue of building an employment brand that appeals to Latinos is one that Rodriguez explores in the Human Resources Strategy course he teaches at Capella University. It is also a topic that is discussed in Capella's HR Community of Practice, an online resource library of discussion boards, position papers, presentations and more that is available to Capella students with an HR background or interest.

"As demographic figures continue to show an increase in the Latino population in the United States, those organizations that can effectively recruit, develop and retain Latino talent will gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace," Rodriguez adds.

Dr. Rodriguez can be reached at Capella University at Robert.Rodriguez@Capella.edu.

About Dr. Robert Rodriguez

Dr. Robert Rodriguez has been with Capella University's School of Business since February 2003. His responsibilities as a faculty chair include overall management for the Leadership and Human Resource MS programs. He also facilitates Capella's HR Community of Practice, an online community designed for Capella learners with an HR background or interest, and was selected as the recipient of Capella's 2005 Harold Abel Faculty of the Year Award. He has also held human resource leadership roles at several Fortune 500 firms, including 3M, BP Amoco and RR Donnelley & Sons. Along with teaching at Capella, Dr. Rodriguez is the managing partner at Astira Group, a human capital services firm based in Chicago, and is actively involved in several nonprofit organizations, including his position as Chairman of the Board for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (http://www.hace-usa.org). Dr. Rodriguez and his family currently reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About Capella University

Founded in 1993, Capella University is an accredited(a) online university that offers graduate degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services and psychology, as well as a Bachelor of Science online degree program with 10 specializations in business and information technology. The online university currently serves more than 13,000 enrolled learners from all 50 states and 55 countries. Capella University is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, visit http://www.capella.edu or call 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552).

(a) Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, located at 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, (312) 263-0456, www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org.

Looking to reach the Latino market with advertising and/or direct mail? Make sure you check into these 
specialty advertising publications by the NMOA.

Advertising- Hispanic/Latino Market Advertising Guide

Advertising- Hispanic/Latino Market Advertising Guide- Master Series

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