19 Jan 2021

The Power of Hispanic Inclusion in the Workplace

Gabriela Benitez, Senior Benefits Advisor at Diversified Insurance joins the Bikin’ Brokers to talk about the power of Hispanic inclusion in the workplace. Gabriela has been recognized as the “Business-person of the year” by the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and by Latino magazine as the healthcare guru. She shares insights as a native Spanish speaker on how business leaders can better include and connect with their Latino workforce. You can listen to the full episode HERE.

gabriela benitez, who explains the power of Hispanic inclusion in the workplace

Utah’s Hispanic Population

In Utah, 14% of the population is Hispanic. 80% come from a Mexican background, 16% come from Peru. About 8% of the Hispanic population is from Colombia and Venezuela. According to the Utah Department of Health, between 2000 and 2010, this population experienced a 78% growth rate, from 201,559 to 358,340. The population keeps growing in Utah.

For context, what does the term “Hispanic” mean? According to the Utah Department of Health, “Hispanic or Latino” is a category that includes anyone who traces ancestry to Latin America, Spain, or Spanish “culture or origin.” About 40% of Hispanics/Latinos are foreign-born. Hispanics/Latinos are much more likely than any other cultural group to speak their native language in the home. Spanish is the second most spoken language in Utah.

Understanding Your Hispanic Workforce

Furthermore, to understand your Hispanic workforce, you need to understand their background and where they are coming from. Almost all of the Latino countries your employees come from work in a universal healthcare system – where healthcare is a government system. That means they are coming to America and are forced to learn a completely different healthcare system.

hispanic family inclusion

Hispanic Inclusion in Healthcare

Gabriela offered many tips to help connect better with your workforce when it comes to healthcare:

First, understand why they don’t want to participate in or pay for something they don’t understand. This is why education is so important. Employees need to be educated on what they are getting and why it is beneficial to them. It is easy for things to get lost when you move from a in person system to digital everything.

Second, consider getting help from a native Spanish speaker (like Gabriela) or a translator. As a result, this person will make sure the options are being understood in language and cultural context. It is hugely helpful to do customized education with a native Spanish speaker.

Here are a few things they can explain to employees:

  • The benefits of having healthcare. They can create a story and give them an example.
  • Make sure they understand the situations that they can get into.
  • If anything drastic was to happen to them or their loved ones, they would learn different scenarios
  • How much everything costs – like emergency room visits

Educating Your Hispanic Workforce

If you can educate employees and include them, rather than isolating them, it will make a big difference. Bring a translator. It helps to make them feel valued and like the company wants them to be in the know about what is going on. Educating employees in their own native language is key to making the information pertinent to them.

As far as employee benefits, its a great strategy to have separate meetings. One meeting with English speakers and another separate meeting for native Spanish speakers. They are more likely to engage and ask questions with a translator present than they would in a combined group setting. If you are having a company wide meeting discussing something other than healthcare, it’s fine to combine, but helpful to have a translator there to facilitate communication.

Diversity & Inclusion

There are a lot of companies that focus on diversity and inclusion and many ways you can approach it. For example, one company set up a Spanish class so they could learn to better communicate with employees. In addition, instead of celebrating Cinco de Mayo, research the Hispanic independence days of where your employees are from and put together some type of celebration. Similarly, birthday acknowledgments are highly important in Latin culture and can be very meaningful.

In short, make a conscious effort to recognize them on a personal level and let them know you appreciate them. For instance, trying to speak Spanish is very appreciated because it shows effort. In the same vein, listening to Spanish music while working is very popular culturally because it makes people feel connected to their roots.

Resources for Hispanic Inclusion in the Workforce

Most importantly, there are many resources available to improve your relationship with your Hispanic workforce. The power of Hispanic inclusion in the workplace cannot be overstated. If you want to engage with your employees at any level, make sure they feel included in important conversations and that you are educating them, preferably with a native Spanish speaker.

In conclusion, Gabriela has years of experience helping businesses navigate this world and is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to creating solutions. You can reach out to her or any of Diversified’s other native Spanish speakers here. When employees understand their benefits, they can utilize them fully and correctly, which often leads to smaller increases and lower costs. Certainly, that is something we all want to work towards.