For Hispanic Heritage Month, AmMore Consulting LLC launched “100+ Latinos Cleveland MUST KNOW,” a list of 102 Latinx living and working in the greater Cleveland area. The list includes the profiles of Hispanic/Latin/Latinx professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, community leaders, and others, with the intention of highlighting the incredible talent hiding in the city.
In 2018, Marcia Moreno created AmMore Consulting LLC, the first Cleveland company committed to creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces by helping organizations develop long-lasting strategies and systems to effectively attract, recruit, and retain Latino talent.
During a conversation with The Land, Moreno, a Chilean immigrant who lives in Rocky River with her family, opened up about her vision about how to close the gap between corporations and Latinx talent.
Do you believe that being an immigrant influenced the creation of your company?
Absolutely. When you arrive as an immigrant to this country you are at a disadvantage over your American peers since [in many cases] you didn’t go to school here, your parents don’t have connections to help you navigate the system, and you have to start from scratch even if you have work experience and education back home. As soon as I arrived in Cleveland, I realized there was a lack of spaces for Latino professionals where one can learn and meet others. So, I decided to create that space.
Companies complain they can’t find Latino talent and Latino professionals say they are not given the same opportunities as their non-Latino peers. Where is the disconnect?
I usually hear companies say, “we can’t find Latino professionals, where are they?” They are right here; you just need to learn how to find them and attract them. The problem is, companies still think that the ways of recruiting and retaining Latinos are the same ones they use to hire non-latinos and that clearly doesn’t work. It’s not enough to put a link saying “apply within” in Spanish, they need to understand who Latinos are.
Why do you think companies fail at this process?
I think companies are attracting some Latinos, but they have difficulty retaining them because they believe it’s Latinos who need to assimilate and make the cultural fit. Latinos, especially millennials, don’t want to do that assimilation, they want to go to work and be who they are, and that’s when the disconnect happens because the organizations don’t understand what that means. This results in Latinos in positions of under management and that is problematic because we are 17% of the population but occupy less than 4% of executive positions. The systems have not adapted to the demographic changes of the community.
Why is it important for a company or organization to diversify?
The Latino demographic is growing, they represent 6% of Cuyahoga County’s population. Compared to other places like Miami, New York, or LA, that number seems very low, but keep in mind that we are responsible for half the growth of the country’s population. If it weren’t for Latinos, this country couldn’t keep growing because the non-Latino birth rate is declining. On top of that, we are ten years younger. If companies don’t change and adapt to a system that allows them to retain Latinos, in a few years they won’t have a workforce. And they won’t be able to understand the market they serve, or the new market that will have a more pronounced Latino identity.
Let’s talk about the list, which I have the honor myself to be a part of, what is its goal?
The list serves as a database for all those organizations that are always asking where is the Latino talent that they can’t find. This list also wants to serve as an expanded tool for finding diverse voices, for non-profit boards, committees, expertise, opinions and perspectives. All of these Latinos are ready to be more engaged and active in their communities and are looking for more opportunities.
The second goal of the list is to start creating a platform for the cohort to see themselves, connect, learn from each other and grow. The idea is to create a more formal space for Latino professionals to strengthen their networks and their skill sets to get ready to lead.
In addition to that, it was imperative to create a platform that was more representative of all the Latino voices in Cleveland, understanding that the Latino community is complex, and diverse; with layers that come from the 20+ countries represented, with various languages, histories, acculturation levels, backgrounds and cultural elements.
What’s your vision for Cleveland for the next ten years?
If we stay on the same path, we will continue with population decrease and high poverty levels we see today. If we don’t focus and work on what needs to be done to welcome a highly diverse new generation of newcomers and young professionals, we will continue to lose talent; and that will have catastrophic consequences to the city.
We need an intentional, comprehensive, citywide strategy that goes beyond seeing Latinos as the poor, uneducated, undocumented, that needs fixing and help. I am not saying social services are not needed; in fact, we still have so many challenges to overcome, particularly as we have been hit so hard during this pandemic that I don’t want to pretend that we don’t need help as a community. However, we also need to attract, retain and support Latino workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, that are already enriching the city, contributing to the economy.
Claudia Longo is a bilingual freelance writer, translator and social media coordinator who lives in Cleveland with her husband and two children.
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