Ready or Not: New Populations---New Approaches
A few decades ago, a bank president/owner asked me how best his bank could reach the Spanish speaking market. He had studied the statistics, which highlighted the Spanish speaking population as one of the fastest growing groups in the country. We met at a very nice Italian restaurant over lunch; a popular location frequented by decision makers, business owners and politicians. The setting was relaxed and conducive to very candid conversation.
The bank president/owner was very upfront. He was interested in how to reach the newly arrived, fast growing Spanish speakers, saying, he saw the writing on the wall: Latinos would continue to increase in the neighborhoods he worked. Like my friend the banker, decades later there are many businesses and community based organizations seeking to make their goods and services attractive to new populations. SO what does it take?
The truth is there is no magic to this business challenge. But, I believe, the recipe is simple for decisive leaders committed to change. However, above all, it takes patience, commitment and boldness to make real change happen within organizations couple with the ability to invest and/or reallocate some resources.
I’ll share what I told my friend, the banker: First: You must hire staff that reflects the population you are seeking to reach. Second: Expand your board membership to include members who reflect the new populations with ability to inform you competently about the nuances inherent in serving the group. This will be important so that you not only create understanding across all levels of the institution but more importantly for you to create a culture of acceptance. Third: Review your company policies, practices and communications to ensure they are respectful, promote and embrace new populations. Fourth: Review strategy and progress often. Demographics are constantly changing, furthermore, given the increased use of technology, creating an inclusive culture and ensuring your company's ability for communicating globally is critical.
By no means, do I mean to oversimplify what I know can be challenging for most businesses. But the old phrase “where there is a will-there is a way” holds true today! Further, decisive visionary leadership can make a difference. If we believe the census and demographers' predictions: That by the year 2050 the US will be a minority majority nation with Spanish speakers largely comprising the majority group then businesses who ignore the call may suffer losses.
My friend, the banker, understood that demographic shifts mattered to his bottom line. He sought expert advice and incorporated the suggested strategies. Today, he operates multiple branches across the state and employs a very racially and ethnically diverse workforce with community reflected on his board and his materials signaling that ethnically diverse, multi-lingual populations are 'welcome'.
Paying attention and acting decisively paid off my friend. Are you ready for further demographic shifts?
MTR Management Consulting Services looks forward to hearing from you.