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The Nuances of Diversity

by Gil Narro Garcia

Young peopleThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued an updated report on the diversity profile of the federal workforce across all Federal civilian agencies. So have a number of the most visible Silicon Valley technology firms. While somewhat insightful of human resources policies and employment practices, they address the issue of diversity at fundamental and simplistic levels. This is the case even when most everybody agrees that a diverse workforce is better than a homogenous one.


Consider the calendar of initiatives promoted by one US-based leading international computer firm. The gist of their “diversity” outreach is to sponsor Cinco de Mayo events and sending some of their Hispanic staff to meet with high school students, presumably to urge students to stay in school. The problem is that such admirable strategies do not get at what it means to have a diverse staff.


If you are Hispanic, you are part of the equation. If you are a female or a gay man, you are part of the equation; likewise if you are bilingual. But, what exactly does it mean for a staff to be “diverse” above and beyond such variables? Better yet, what exactly do Hispanics bring to the table? It’s an intriguing question for employers and for employees. It’s a question I’d be sure to pose to a job candidate and to human resources officials.


For argument’s sake, let’s consider two Hispanic candidates with similar academic credentials from the same university. The first one is a monolingual English speaking Hispanic who grew up and went to school with few Hispanics. His parents seldom emphasized their Hispanic culture or downplayed it because they had a difficult time when they were growing up. The second candidate is literate in both English and Spanish. She relishes her dual cultures and social interactions with Hispanics and others. Both of them would be “diverse” at the corporate report level! But, I think it would be highly unlikely that both of them would contribute equally on the personal and socio-cultural levels. 


What do you believe each candidate would add to the position and to the firm as an attorney or as a teacher, for example?


*This is Part 1 of a series of conversations that Popular Hispanics hopes you will want to be part of. Your comments will inform subsequent articles on this very important issue.


Gil Narro Garcia is an educator and native South Texan who grew up in a bilingual/biliterate middle class household. gilnarrogarcia@comcast.net

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