We Are Here (Estamos Aquí): Researching the Latinx Work Experience in the U.S.

Closes:

Overview

There are now more than 60.9 million Latinx[1]-identified individuals in the U.S., making up more than 18.5% of the population, and trending to be approximately 30% by 2050. Yet this demographic trend is not necessarily top of mind in the news or in scholarship on management, organizations, and work. The U.S. goes through cycles of “Latin Booms” when, in particular historical moments, Latinx individuals and/or communities become salient and are “discovered” as an important American constituency that must be addressed, only to be later dismissed or ignored again. For example, one of the (baffling) takeaways of the 2020 U.S. presidential election was that Latinx people constitute a sizable voter population that cannot be overlooked.

In the context of U.S. workplaces, organizations, and entrepreneurship, Latinx people historically have faced a collection of cultural, social, and institutional obstacles and barriers not only to entering but also to advancing and thriving. To begin with, only 24% of Latinx adults (25 and older) have earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 46% of White non-Latinx adults. The gap between labor force and executive representation is wider among Latinx employees than in any other group. A recent study at University of Massachusetts Amherst found that, although Latinx people make up 17% of the workforce, they make up only 4% of company executives. Furthermore, although Latinx people constitute one of the fastest growing ethnic groups among entrepreneurs in the U.S., with a greater likelihood to start a business, they nonetheless report a lower rate of economic success. Contreras and Contreras (2015) point to the criticality of this achievement gap and the danger of the Latinx community becoming “an expansive underclass with limited economic mobility and community sustainability options” (p.152).

Management and organizational scholarship addressing these and related Latinx issues—including on the strengths and contributions of Latinx people in organizations and in the workplace—has been limited. The study of the Latinx social context and its implications for organizations and work has been neglected, especially given the importance of this population for the U.S. and its labor force. Therefore, research and theory to understand organizations and work in a Latinx context and from Latinx perspectives is critically needed. This area of inquiry would focus on issues such as the historical and sociological origins of Latinx oppression and the intersectionality of multiple Latinx identities, to help identify barriers Latinx people face in employment and to locate ways to mitigate, remove, or overcome them. It would also address areas of vitality, resilience, and possibility, even in the face of obstacles, as well as the ways in which Latinx people are sustaining and developing cultural expression and identity at work, engaging across intergroup boundaries, and supporting collective ways of fostering more inclusion and equity in organizations and society.

Our aim in this special issue is to generate scholarship that will assist organizations to develop strategies for attracting, engaging, and retaining Latinx people, in ways that contribute to equality, diversity, and inclusion. It will also provide evidence and perspectives to help Latinx individuals with strategies for navigating structural barriers in organizations, attaining career success, and thriving in the process. Latinx people are already in the United States, making important contributions to American society; whether in agriculture—laboring in fields picking fruits and vegetables, as essential workers in healthcare, as entrepreneurs, as educators, as STEM or business professionals, or in the boardroom: we are here, estamos aquí. This reality calls for greater urgency in generating research and scholarship to meet the moment and contribute to understanding this important demographic and cultural group, particularly in the context of the broader societal reckoning with systemic racism and the focus of many organizations on expanding inclusion and equity.

Latinx people share many common stories and experiences that cut across the Latinx experience. At the same time, the Latinx population is also quite diverse. The Latinx “umbrella” includes Mexican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Cuban Americans, Salvadoran Americans, Colombian Americans, Ecuadorian Americans, and others; Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists; LGBTQIA+ individuals, men, women, and non-binary people; mestizos or mixed-race persons, White, Black, and Indigenous; among many others. It is perhaps this heterogeneity and diversity in ways of being Latinx that makes this research particularly challenging. In this special issue, we call for scholarship that not only addresses the complexity of being Latinx, but that also acknowledges similarities and commonalities across the Latinx population, and that helps describe the parameters of both differentiation and commonality across Latinx experiences of work in and with organizations.

The purpose of this special issue is a call for scholarship that helps us understand these organizational and work experiences. Our vision is to set in motion a research agenda that acknowledges and incorporates Latinx people with all their complexities and similarities in the study of organizations and workplaces. We invite articles framed within management and organizational scholarship, as well as cross-disciplinary scholarship and/or scholarship stemming from fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, ethnic studies, gender studies, or LGBTQIA+ studies, among others. The focus should be on the Latinx experience in organizations and the workplace within a U.S. context. Conceptual, empirical (whether qualitative or quantitative) and literature review contributions are welcome.

Potential topics

Potential areas of research and inquiry might include (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • Historical and sociological perspectives on the Latinx experience and its implications for the organizational sciences and for workplaces
    • Latinx professional experiences in corporate America
    • Cultural fit (misfit) in organizations 
    • Latinx-led organizations
    • Boardroom and senior management
    • Valuing employee diversity in the face of language and cultural bias
    • ERGs (employee resource groups)
    • Essential workers (job security, underpayment, exposure risk to COVID19)
    • Antiracism practices in organizations and their implications for/applications to Latinx
    • The glass-ceiling/sticky floors and barriers to Latinx mobility and advancement
    • Inclusive and equitable practices and strategies from a Latinx perspective
  • Organizational implications of Latinx social oppression and social justice; Latinx-centered perspectives on organizational change for equity, diversity, and inclusion 
    • Latinx professionals (including those in STEM fields)
    • Latinx professional immigrants
    • Marginalized workers and identities
    • Undocumented workers
    • Stereotypes about the Latinx population and Latinx workers, managers, and/or leaders
    • Latinx discrimination in the workplace
    • Latinx people and groups and DEI initiatives
  • Latinx entrepreneurs, self-employed, micro-entrepreneurs
    • Difficulties and obstacles at accessing capital
    • Lack of access to business social networks and mentoring
    • Limited opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills
    • Limited opportunities for entrepreneurial knowledge acquisition
  • Negotiating our individual and collective Latinx identities in organizations and at work
    • Becoming salient; becoming homogenized
    • Race, racism, and anti-racism from a Latinx perspectives
    • The “race box” to check
    • The Mexican American experience, the Puerto Rican American experience, the Cuban American experience, the Salvadoran American experience, and other subgroup experiences; Afro-Latinx experience; Indigenous identities vis a vis Latinx identity and experience
    • Colorism and its implications for Latinx people at work and in organizations
    • Latinx intersectionality in organizations
    • The Latina experience in organizations and at work
    • The LGBTQIA+ Latinx experience in organizations
    • Language/accent; hablar en español; bicultural multilingual bias

Submissions Information

Manuscripts must be submitted in MS Word (.doc or .docx) format with a separate title page that includes the title of the paper, full names, affiliations, email addresses, telephone numbers, complete addresses, and biographical sketches of all authors.

All submissions must follow the APA (6th ed.) style and be between 6,000 and 8,000 words, including a 250-word abstract with 5-6 key words, all references, and notes.

Submissions should be made by June 1, 2022 through Scholar One at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/edi. Author guidelines and format for submitted manuscripts can be found on the journal’s website: http://emeraldgrouppublishing.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=edi.

Please direct any general questions about the special issue to Dr. Carlos González at [email protected]

References

Contreras, F., & Contreras, G.  (2015). Raising the bar for Hispanic serving institutions: An analysis of college completion and success rates.  Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 14(2), 151–170.

Krogstad, J.M., & Noe-Bustamente, L. (2020).  Key Facts about U.S. Latinos for National Hispanic Heritage Month.  Pew Research Center.  Accessed 8/11/2021.  https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/10/key-facts-about-u-s-latinos-for-national-hispanic-heritage-month/

Swerzenski, J.D., Tomaskovic-Devey, D.T., Hoyt, E. (2020).  Where are the Hispanic Executives?  The Conversation.  Accessed 8/11/2021.  https://theconversation.com/where-are-the-hispanic-executives-12898

[1]  The term Latinx is a gender neutral, non-binary term used to describe the specific historical and cultural experience of Latinos and Latinas in the U.S. For this special issue, we refer to the term Latinx as inclusive of Latinos/Latinas/Hispanics – of all gender identities -- and the multiple races, ethnicities, and national backgrounds that represent us in the U.S.