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On May 4, NCLR and some of the top business minds in the country convened the annual NCLR Workforce Development Forum in Las Vegas. The goal of the Forum was to help educate attendees on coming demographic shifts in the American workforce and their implications for the economy, as well as to provide best practices in integrating new American workers into the workforce. Attendees, stakeholders, experts, and corporate representatives spent two days discussing how employers and their employees can most effectively work together to create an efficient and conscientious workforce.
By Irasema Garza, J.D., Policy Advisor, NCLR Policy Analysis Center
Earlier this year, major tech companies based in Silicon Valley began rolling out diversity numbers, amid increased public pressure to reveal workforce demographic data. The companies’ records confirmed what Latinos already know: tech giants generally don’t hire Latinos, at least not as white-collar professional staff. Latinos make up 40 percent of California’s residents, and comprise almost 30 percent of the country’s population when combined with Blacks. Yet only 3–4 percent of the technology industry’s core workforce is made up of Latinos and Blacks; Apple is the most diverse of these companies with a paltry 7 percent Latinos and 6 percent Blacks.
The release of the tech industry’s diversity data lit up the blogosphere with commentary about how the companies can disentangle complicated technology quagmires, but diversity completely confounds them. Some industry CEOs offered mea culpa statements and expressed a desire to adopt programs that would help them develop a pipeline of diverse employees.
Latinos who work in the tech industry are overrepresented in service-related jobs, but are not considered employees of the tech companies. According to a recent report issued by Working Partnerships USA, a labor and community organization in San Jose, CA, Latinos comprise 74 percent of the tech industry’s grounds maintenance workforce, 28 percent of its security guards, and 69 percent of the janitorial staff. Service workers are not on any tech company’s payroll because they are contingent workers. That is, they are contracted by employee resource companies and in turn sourced out to the tech industry. Their wages and benefits reflect as much.
In sharp contrast to the high wages earned by the industry’s core employees, the median hourly wages for the three largest categories of contracted workers—landscaping workers, janitors, and security guards—are $13.82, $11.39, and $14.17, respectively. To make matters worse, the majority of these workers are not eligible for sick leave; they are not able to take a single paid sick day, unlike the core employees of the tech companies.
While a janitor working for a tech company is unable to meet the monthly rent for an average apartment in Santa Clara County without working overtime, the technology industry is booming. In 2013, the top 150 companies in Silicon Valley earned $103 billion dollars in profits.
The tech industry has a very long way to go before it is no longer considered an industry with a homogenous workforce. Promises to improve diversity are laudable sentiments, but insufficient to gain credibility among the Latino community. Latinos have heard about building corporate pipelines to improve diversity for decades, but they have yet to see meaningful results. To be sure, many companies nationwide have increased workforce diversity over the decades because they made diversity hiring an organizational priority, and they adopted policies to ensure that a culture of diversity permeated their organizations. Silicon Valley CEOs should do the same, not simply because their dismal diversity rates are now public, but because it is well-established that a diverse workforce can increase productivity and benefit a company’s bottom line.
Good corporate policy is one that insists its workforce mirrors the demographics of its customer base. So with the exponential growth of young technology adopters in Latino and Black communities, there is no excuse for industry CEOs to delay polices that will accelerate diversity hiring to increase the number of Latinos in high-paying tech jobs, including leadership positions. In the meantime, industry CEOs would do well to fold Latino and other service workers into their companies’ payrolls, or at least increase their pay to meet livable wage standards.
It’s official—after today’s cloture vote, S. 815, the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA),” will soon head to the Senate floor. And with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D–W.Va.) now on board, NCLR has high hopes that this critical legislation to prevent discrimination against LGBT workers could finally pass after going nearly eight years in Congress without a single vote on the bill. The last holdout from the Democratic side, Manchin, brings the total number of yes votes just a few shy of the Senate’s critical threshold. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R–Maine) and Mark Kirk (R–Ill.) are both co-sponsors of the legislation and have been joined by Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska) and Orrin Hatch (R–Utah), who have stated their public intention to vote for ENDA. At a time when lawmakers have drawn the ire of Americans because they have failed to have bipartisan leadership on just about anything, it is heartening to see members of Congress from both sides of the aisle come together for a common purpose.
ENDA is a necessity because it would be the first law to create a national standard to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression. Right now, one-half of American workers are not protected from this type of discrimination. There are 21 states that don’t provide ENDA-like, state-level workplace protections leaving individuals open to be discriminated against or even fired without just cause. This legislation will directly improve the circumstances for the 6 percent of Hispanics who identify as LGBT and who may be vulnerable simply because of where they live. In fact, three of the ten states with the largest percentages of Hispanic same-sex couples in this country (Texas, Arizona, and Florida) are among those that lack any kind of state-level ENDA protections. Continue reading
By Jennifer Ng’andu, Director, Health and Civil Rights Policy Project, NCLR
In Spanish, the phrase cuidaté tells someone “to take care of yourself” It also lets them know you care for them. In the 2.5 years since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a number of the law’s measures have been implemented to provide the same message. These measures have quite simply improved the health care experience for millions of Americans, including insured and uninsured Latinos. Continue reading
By Scott Einbinder, Bend the Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Delia de la Vara, Vice President, California Region, NCLR
In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Chris Megerian mis-characterizes the Obama administration’s proposal to extend basic federal labor protections to home care aides as contrary to the needs of people with disabilities.
In California, nearly a half-million workers provide services and supports to elders and people with disabilities through the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. Many more provide support to families who pay privately for assistance for their parents and grandparents who can no longer manage on their own. These home care workers are part of a national workforce that, according to the national nonprofit PHI, numbers at least 2.5 million, and is the fastest-growing workforce in the country. By 2020, this workforce is expected to grow to 4 million workers, larger than the number of teachers educating youth in grades K-12.
In the latest installment of our semi-regular video series, we meet Aldira Aldape and Mike Toledo. Both work at nonprofit community-based organizations in NCLR’s Affiliate network. Aldira and Mike both have deep concerns about the effects of the sequester—mandatory across-the-board cuts to the federal budget—will have on one of our most successful early education programs, Head Start.
We all know that Latino children will make up the bulk of our future workforce. That’s why investments in our youth are so important. With the sequester in effect, however, those investments are harder to make. The policies of austerity in place today jeopardize the future prosperity of America.