Ask the White Guy: How Do We Recruit Latino College Grads?

In this edition, DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti responds to one reader's concerns about Latino employee recruitment. See how his reaction emphasizes the importance of analyzing the diversity values of colleges and universities.

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Click here to read the second part of this article.

We have to find ways to get more Hispanic applicants in the applicant pool. The action needs a head start now; no delays. Let me know what you think.

Here are my thoughts on college recruiting of underrepresented groups: If you screen the colleges and universities you recruit from, you can make what appears to be a daunting task very manageable. Schools are like corporations—some do a much better job at managing diversity than others.

Recruiting organizations should screen their colleges and universities for diversity outreach, degree completion, professional organizations on campus, career services (especially for people with disabilities) and clear-cut goals and commitment expressed by the president of the school.

For example, Rutgers University (I am a trustee) does an exceptional job recruiting and retaining underrepresented students from the Rutgers Future Scholars program, which starts in 8th grade, the business school’s prep program (STEP) to help students from poor-quality high schools get up to speed. There are also a range of targeted scholarships serving students with modest economic means (including an LGBT scholarship!). The Rutgers Newark campus has been cited as having the most diverse campus in the United States for 13 years. The chancellor of Rutgers Newark, Steve Diner, is a tireless advocate for diversity.

Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick mentions the connection between diversity and receiving a quality education in every speech I’ve heard him make.

If you develop a relationship with Rutgers, aside from becoming involved with Rutgers Future Scholars, you can work with their admissions people to find which high schools are the best pipeline schools for targeted groups … that, in turn, narrows down your high-school cultivation efforts.

You should also look for schools which may not be on everyone’s radar screen. For example, I am on the foundation board of New Jersey City University—an MSI (minority-serving institution) and HSI (Hispanic-serving institution)—14,000 undergrads and a particularly strong accountancy program. President Carlos Hernandez runs a top-quality school—with students who are predominantly the first people in their families to go to college.

In contrast, I once heard a president of a 50,000-plus student Midwest public university speak for 45 minutes and not mention diversity once. How can he help you with your goals if he doesn’t understand his own responsibilities?

Finally—look out for conflict. The nonsense that is plaguing University of California San Diego is indicative of incompetent (at best) diversity management. This is not a school that is likely to help you accomplish YOUR goals. Their students from underrepresented groups are likely to be unengaged—and present in lower percentages than schools with proper diversity management.

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  • I agree that universities with strong diversity programs are a benefit to under represented students.

    Also, companies that do business for the federal government are obligated to actively search for under represented candidates. Unfortunately, in some industries (aerospace for example) the under represented often miss job opportunities because of nepotism. Many times sons and daughters of managers are hired as recent college graduates. In other cases, minorities that are over represented within a discipline are hired to try to fulfill the government’s requirement.

  • I appreciate Luke’s suggestions. My additional comments would include doing outreach to the Hispanic-Latino College Student Groups and Alumni Networks. Also, I would suggest being clear in the recruiting efforts about the socio-economic and country of origin aspects. Based on my experiences working and consulting to US corporations, the overwhelming majority of Latinos in the workplace are from outside of the U.S. and tend to come from very affluent/wealthy families.

  • Good response Luke. I would like to reiterate and reinforce one of your points and add two others..

    First, as you mentioned, it’s important to establish an actual relationship with the institution. This means significantly more than just contacting the person in charge of scheduling corporate visits during career fairs. Schools that serve the underrepresented populations you seek are also deserving of the attention often lavished on larger so-called prestige institutions. Offering corporate executives and other professional employees as visiting lecturers, providing real internships (vs. paper pushing ones), engaging in community outreach with the institution (e.g. supporting a program like Rutgers Future Scholars) is the type of relationship that will pay off with skilled and motivated employees from underrepresented groups who graduate from that institution.

    Second, an untapped resource is often a company’s employees – particularly if they are members of the target group – who are graduates of the institution being targeted in the recruitment process. I once worked for a large firm in North Carolina that didn’t realize that many of its Black employees had graduated from HBCU’s in Virginia, North and South Carolina. As a result they went outside of the company, and the region, to recruit Black professionals. It wasn’t until they were made aware of their employee resource that they began to utilize it.

    Finally, companies need to realize that a sought after graduate (minority or otherwise) is a commodity in that they are able to demand a salary commensurate with their value in the corporate marketplace. I know of minority candidates with superior academic records in a particular specialty, for instance, who were inundated with offers from a number of companies at salaries significantly high than others might be offered simply because the company “needed” an Hispanic or Black or woman. I not saying it’s the right approach or good business, but it is part of the minority recruiting environment in some areas.

  • Send the “white guy” to a basic Spanish class to learn some of the language and culture. As a part-time university educator (in business computer systems and business statistics) and a part-time consultant, I took it upon myself to attend such classes to broaden my cultural outlook.

  • All awesome suggestions and comments. In my Diversity consulting and recruiting days most of my requests were for technical engineers. I found national organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Mexican American Engineering Society (MAES) provided great opprotunities for some fantastic candidates both at the college level and for experienced professionals.

  • For companies to really benefit from having a more diverse workforce, it is important to make hiring requirements more inclusive of diverse populations – this includes letting school career services know to refer candidates that don’t have a 3.0+. A graduate with a 2.5 GPA that worked 30 – 40 hrs/wk is often just as bright and potentially more motivated than the 3.0 – 4.0 grads that had more financial assistance in school. I often have excellent candidates for positions but they can’t get referred on to the company due to the college screening process.

  • I did not offer a comment to this article prior to this post, but I was wondering why those who did comment were identified only as “guest”.

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