By Dani Sheehan.
September 15 to October 15 marks National Hispanic Heritage Month each year in the United States. Its purpose is to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of the American population whose ancestors came from Central America, South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Spain.
We celebrate it starting on September 15 because this day marks the independence anniversary for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence September 16 and September 18, respectively, and Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated October 9, 2023.
According to 2021 labor force statistics, Latinos make up almost a third of the population of construction workers. We asked some of our RCS influencers and other industry experts to share how we can continue to grow a strong, inclusive culture in roofing. We encourage you to learn more about the history of Hispanic culture and celebrate your Latino community by building strong cross-cultural connections throughout your company.
Spanish is the second most common language in the U.S.
RCS influencer John Kenney, CEO of Cotney Consulting Group, shared the importance of growing an inclusive culture through training in Spanish. He feels that one of the best ways to be inclusive in the workplace is to provide trainings in Spanish to show contractors you value them, and to reduce the risk of miscommunication through poor translation. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) provides several resources in Spanish and programs like SRS Para Latinos by SRS Distribution have found unique partnerships to engage with the Latino community.
As Edgar Saucedo from SRS Para Latinos mentioned in an interview, “We understand it’s hard to explain roof in Spanish or it’s hard to explain that specific word. I always like the phrase ‘I like to paint cafecito.’ Cafecito means brown, light brown, but it also means coffee. So cafecito, things like that where we’re trying to explain, we [at SRS] try to connect the best talent for our customers so they can feel more at home.”
Understand the barriers and hardships faced by your Hispanic employees
Providing trainings and trying to learn and speak Spanish or offer Spanish resources is a great start, but it is only a small portion of understanding Hispanic culture. As RCS influencer Mandy McIntyre, owner of Level Up Consultants, said in an interview, “It’s important for business owners to understand that our Hispanic workforce is facing challenges that affects their family life, that affects where they live, if they can stay here. So, getting involved in those political issues is vital to the industry as a whole.” Being able to tell your employees you’re with them on this can go a long way.
Get involved by attending events and learning more!
To build culture, you need to build bridges for everyone. The best way to become more inclusive and encourage diversity is to learn and listen from others. The roofing industry offers so many opportunities to get involved! Follow SRS Distribution Para Latinos on Facebook to catch one of many workshops they host around the nation or consider getting involved with NRCA or the National Hispanic Contractors Association.
Continue the celebration by tuning in to the upcoming Coffee Conversations®, sponsored by Johns Manville, as panelists share the history and contributions of Hispanic culture that have shaped the roofing industry.
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Dani is a writer for the Coffee Shops and AskARoofer™. When she's not writing or researching, she's training for trail races and working on her yoga teaching certification.
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