Woman working in STEM
From colorism, to gender and immigration status, Latinos in the workplace are feeling overlooked, despite being considered an economic powerhouse. Unsplash.com

NEW YORK CITY - Despite being a rapidly growing demographic and an economic powerhouse in the United States, Latinos in Corporate America are continuously feeling overlooked and under increasing pressure to assimilate into the existing culture, a new study by Coqual shows.

In the study, titled "More than a Monolith: The Advancement of Hispanic and Latino/a Talent," Coqual, a nonprofit think tank, dives into the "complex and contradictory" stereotypes in the workplace from colleagues, while also navigating shifting identities among Hispanic and Latino communities in the workplace.

These results are drawn from over 100 professionals' testimonies across the U.S., as well as a web-based survey that captured the responses of 2,385 full-time employees in professional occupations.

When it comes to identities and personality in the workplace, race and ethnicity play a significant role. For instance, 68% of Hispanic and Latino professionals who have a sponsor in their jobs encourage them to assimilate to office norms compared to 58% of White and Black professionals.

"Our findings illuminate hurdles Hispanic and Latino professionals face, including the undue pressure to mask their authentic selves and heritage in pursuit of success," said Lanaya Irvin, CEO of Coqual. "The study uncovers not only the pervasive influence of colorism but also its tangible impact on talent experiences within the workplace."

Colorism, as Irvin mentions, can be seen as a prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone.

64% of Hispanic and Latino professionals who are perceived as White feel well represented in their company's leadership compared to less than half of those who are perceived as Black.

Within these figures, stereotypes play a role in how an individual is perceived.

According to the study, 23% of Hispanic professionals say colleagues express stereotypes about Hispanic of Latino people at least monthly compared to 8% of White and 11% of Black respondents who said to have experienced this.

In recounting one experience, a Latina executive told researchers: "I was wearing khaki pants and a blue shirt. Someone approached me and asked, 'Excuse me, are you with the cleaning crew?' No, I'm not. I happen to be a director."

These stereotypes in the workplace are often also exacerbated by other factors, including immigrant generation status and Spanish language ability.

Most alarmingly, however, are the pay inequities that Hispanic and Latino, particularly Latina, workers, face. According to the report, 45% of Latinas say their company doesn't pay them an appropriate wage, compared to 25% of Latinos who say the same. Additionally, 40% of Latinas say their salary doesn't allow them to support their dependents, compared to 19% of Latinos.

These conditions may be linked to the current retention rate among Latinos, which is low compared to other demographics. The study found that Latino professionals are 41% more likely than White professionals to plan to leave their companies within a year.

For younger Latinos, specifically, it is easier and more common to leave their current positions if they are unsatisfied or if they do not see the possibility of a promotion. Meanwhile, older generations prefer to conceal their identity in order to hopefully rise through the ranks.

But while these issues are persistent, are there possible remedies? New and fresh solutions might be the answer.

Instilling culturally inclusive leadership practices, and strengthening organizational and structural policies are the two major ideas that the study provides. From focusing on structural diversity, to redefining professionalism and validating linguistic diversity, the report suggests that an effort at change must start from the upper ranks in corporate America.

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