In Order to Succeed at Work, Some Latinos Hide Their Heritage

Studies have shown "hiring bias" exists for applicants who have Hispanic names.

Now a new report finds that while Latinos will account for 80 percent of the growth of the U.S. workforce between now and 2022, three out of four of them say they "repress" their heritage in the office.

"They are covering or downplaying who they are, modifying their appearance, their body language, their communication style and their leadership presence," says the report, Latinos at Work: Unleashing the Power of Culture, which was released by the nonprofit think tank Center for Talent Innovation (CTI).

The analysis, based on multiple sources, including two national workplace surveys, might be especially relevant in Los Angeles County, where nearly half the population is Latino but where key industries, including film, television and other media, are defiantly white. It was released to help recognize Hispanic Heritage Month.

"The vast majority of Latinos (76 percent) repress certain aspects of their personas in the workplace, and those who expend a great deal of energy doing so (6 percent) are also more likely to feel they are being promoted quickly," a spokeswoman for the center said.

At the same time, 63 percent of Latino workers say they don't feel welcome, included or valued at work and that their ideas aren't sought or heard. Among those who feel slighted, nearly one third (31 percent) believe colleagues aren't aware of their credentials. Forty-four percent of American-born Latinos said they feel they have to work harder than colleagues in order "to feel included." 

"The workplace is a minefield of slights and snubs," according to the analysis.

Forty-three percent of Latinas and 33 percent of Latinos said they needed to "compromise their authenticity" in order to live up to standards at work. Only 5 percent of full-time, high-earning Latino employees at large companies said they had mentors or "sponsors" at work who could help them navigate success, CTI says.

Solutions include mentoring programs at work, the center said, as well as Latino-focused leadership development. But to develop Latinos you have to hire a few. Yes, we're looking at you, Hollywood.


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