Manage Your Business
Nely Galán: Diversity will help you reach the biggest emerging market in the U.S.
Multicultural women are a growing force in the economy, both as business owners and consumers. So how do you attract more of these women as customers?
Author and media mogul Nely Galán suggests you start by hiring them.
"This is not just hiring for diversity because it's the right thing to do—it's hiring for growth," Galán said recently at the Chase for Business conference held in New York City. "In order to grow your company in this new world, it has to look like the rest of the country."
According to Galán, Latina women alone have an annual spending power of $1.3 trillion. Women of Latin, African-American, Asian and Middle-Eastern heritage also make up the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., she said, and represent a significant market opportunity for companies that sell to other businesses.
"If you put all multicultural women together, they can make or break your business with their purchasing power," Galán said.
Why hiring tops the to-do list
Making loyal customers out of this group requires a multipronged approach, particularly in how you market your business.
In order to build a strong relationship with your business, customers need to see people like them—and "not just in junior positions, but in positions of power," according to Galán. In a retail environment, seeing staffers of different ethnicities can give shoppers "a powerful sense of feeling invited in," she said, and reassures them that they won't suffer the discrimination of being eyed with suspicion.
Conference attendee Miko Branch, co-founder and owner of Manhattan, New York, hair-care company Miss Jessie's, agrees that having a diverse staff helps her business do a better job of serving its multicultural client base. "It's helped us to connect with our customers and to be successful," she said.
Branch also points out that a diverse staff benefits the business broadly: "Having a mix of people forces you to be open-minded. It keeps you thinking outside of the box, which you have to do as an entrepreneur."
How to recruit for diversity
Galán has little patience for businesses that insist they would hire a more diverse workforce if only they could find qualified candidates. "Claiming there's a lack of candidates is a bad excuse. The truth is, they're out there," she maintains.
Here are her top tips for recruiting to add diversity to your team:
1. Connect with scholarship funds and organizations
"I look at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and see all these incredible kids at Princeton and Harvard, and I don't see a lot of people pursuing them," Galán said. That organization and the United Negro College Fund have promising lists of alumni that recruiters can tap.
2. Look for local, ethnicity-focused chambers of commerce
You can find chambers of commerce and other professional networking groups that serve specific ethnic communities in many cities and regions. A recent Chase survey found that Hispanic business leaders rated networking organizations as their most useful outside relationships. "Next time you're looking for an accountant, advertise in one of their newsletters," Galán suggested.
3. Tap multicultural professional associations for specific roles
If you want to hire a creative marketer, look to groups like the Asian American Advertising Federation, or the National Association of Black Journalists. Looking for a CFO? Try the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. These types of organizations can fast-track your search for diverse hires.
Galán says the math doesn't lie. Making your company a leader in diversity efforts leaves you better positioned to develop long-lasting customer relationships with a group that has significant economic clout.
Elizabeth Heichler is a writer and editor focused on business and technology issues. She has contributed to CIO magazine, Computerworld, and PC World, among others.