Corporate Responsibility and the US Hispanic Market

08 Sep 2003|Felipe Korzenny

Hispanics are very sensitive to the actions that corporations take to show interest in the US Hispanic community and also in Latin America. Hispanic consumers repeatedly mention that they favor companies that become involved in furthering Hispanic causes in the US, and also in their countries of origin. Thus if Coca-Cola sponsors soccer games for youth in Latin America that benefits those on both sides of the border because of the strong ties that Hispanics maintain with their countries of origin.

There is no one specific action that gets more recognition in particular. It is the “Gestalt” of the way in which the corporation behaves towards Hispanics. If a corporation hires Hispanics, establish a dialogue with Hispanics, supports Hispanic causes, and shows a genuine determination to pursue the Hispanic market, then Hispanics tend to be appreciative. This appreciation is many times manifested as reciprocity and respect. Hispanics are loyal to companies that are “good” to them. This value for reciprocity and respect is traditional in the culture. The same way in which older people, teachers, priests, and leaders are held in very high respect, companies that go out of their way to establish their leadership are also conferred a high level of respect and loyalty.

The needs of the Hispanic community are multiple. The following are examples of priority issues that corporations should address:

a. Education in its many forms, from scholarships to educational campaigns to help consumers make sense of their environment. Clearly, supporting formal education is a priority. Still many other forms of information and education are a extremely important. Hispanic consumers benefit from campaigns that educate them on consumer issues of many types. Here are a few examples: How to buy a home? How to choose car and home insurance? How to save for children’s education? How to save for retirement? How to become politically involved? How to shop for health care?

b. Youth development and recreation. As Hispanics have many children and the Hispanic population is about ten years younger than the overall US population, Hispanic youth need to have avenues for channeling their energies in productive ways. This includes sports, after-school activities, youth employment, and also parental guidance on dealing with youth issues.

c. Community development efforts to improve services and organization in neighborhoods. This is a particularly important need in the more humble neighborhoods where newer immigrants live. In this context, crime prevention is a key priority.

d. Employment guidance and training. This is crucial as many Hispanic immigrants become underemployed after transitioning to the US.

e. Health is another most important issue that can be supported by many corporations.

The above are overlapping examples of the many areas in which corporations can make contributions and expect consumer recognition for them. Ultimately the best guidance can be obtained by including more Hispanics on corporate boards, and by employing more high level Hispanics in these corporations. The outward actions of a company need to be oriented by a well coordinated internal effort.

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