CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continues to be front and center for businesses, civic organizations, and communities nearly a year after George Floyd’s death.
And as we continue to work toward creating more equity and inclusion in the workplace and in our communities, we must not lose sight that DEI isn’t just black and white but includes all shades in between.
In 2014, the Brookings Institution Report identified Charlotte as one of five major emerging gateways for immigrant population growth. The fastest growing demographic in the Piedmont region is the Latinx community. Between 2010 and 2019, the Hispanic population in the Charlotte region grew by 36%, more than twice as fast as the overall population, accounting for more than 50% of the growth in the population under 19 years old.
So, how does a city like Charlotte prepare to meet the needs of this ever-growing, diverse, yet underrepresented group?
The first step is for leaders to better understand the inherent diversity within this sub-group. The Latinx community in Charlotte is very rich, representing regions from North, Central, and South America which often have very different cultural, economic, and political strengths. It’s important that decision-makers align themselves with individuals and organizations that can speak to multi-cultural experiences to ensure there is diversity in thought and inclusion in strategic decision-making.
Organizations such as the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte (LACCC) help amplify the voices of the Latinx community to ensure they don’t just have a seat at the table but are able to contribute as partners and thought leaders in shaping the growth of the region. I believe that we are moving in the right direction, but more work needs to be done.
One thing I continue to stress in my conversations is that DEI isn’t just healthy from a social standpoint; it makes a lot of sense economically as well. Diversity brings many advantages to the workplace, including profitability, creativity, stronger governance, and problem-solving abilities. Many of our partners at the Chamber have voiced a need for bilingual talent. As their organizations serve more and more Hispanics locally and globally. The statistics above are a sign for the need of a more diverse workforce.
In the last decade, Latinos launched most of all new businesses in the U.S. – generating almost 4.3 million new companies and were responsible for creating nearly 3 million American jobs. Additionally, according to the most recent Latino GDP study conducted by Latino Collaborative and Dr. Hayes Bautista (UCLA), the total purchasing power or (GDP) of Latinos in the United States was $2.6 trillion in 2018, up from $2.3 trillion in 2017, and $1.7 trillion in 2010.
These national trends are indicative of Latinx growth in Charlotte as well. There are currently over 8,000 Hispanic owned businesses in Charlotte and this number continues to grow. With fast population growth, comes fast-growing markets, which in-turn creates more opportunities and challenges.
One of the biggest challenges is having a seat at the table where decisions are being made. As more and more Latinx move to Charlotte, their voices also need to be heard when making decisions that affect our city. As the new president/CEO of the LACCC, I hope to be that voice that represents a large population that continues to grow and continues to contribute to our economy.
Given this backdrop, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte is called to take a big step forward. Partnering with community leaders and organizations the LACCC can advance increased access and economic mobility for diverse populations. There is true value in partnering with organizations that are diverse, they inspire novel thinking, offer multiple perspectives and different approaches to problem-solving.
Thompson Child & Family Focus is moving in the right direction by partnering with organizations like the Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and supporting their efforts in helping get more families access to preschool education. Thompson’s bilingual family education and community-based mental health services work to strengthen our community’s Latinx children and families as well.
Together we can create a vision where Charlotte will become a model for other forward-thinking cities. Together we can move in the right direction.
Headquartered in Matthews, North Carolina (Mecklenburg County), Thompson Child & Family Focus is a human services leader transforming lives through early childhood, family stability, and mental health services. As a solutions-driven organization committed to rewriting narratives for the most vulnerable in our community; Thompson achieves this by providing comprehensive, evidence-based services, and trauma-informed care, for children (ages 0-18) and their families, virtually and in-person.
Thompson employs over 270 staff in locations in Matthews, Charlotte, Arden, and Wilmington, NC, and is led by President/CEO, Will Jones. To read more about Thompson’s continuum of services online, go to thompsoncff.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.