Adding to the crisis management agenda.

Author:Munoz, George

Crisis management is becoming a regular Board agenda item. As well it should. Devastating events that can sink a company and its stock price seem to be happening more often. Every day there seems to be something else that could threaten a company's financial base or reputation.

Boards should consider adding one more item to the crisis management agenda: the company's relationship with the Hispanic community.

The Hispanic community has become too big to ignore and too big to mistreat. The most recent U.S. Census reports that Hispanics have driven 56 percent of the population growth of the United States. The American Marketscape DataStream 2011 report showed that in the past year Hispanics also drove 47 percent of consumer spending growth. At 50.5 million, Hispanics make up one out of every six Americans. And with one-third of Hispanics being under the age of 18, Hispanics will continue to be a main contributor to the growth in work force and customer base.

"Does our company understand Hispanic demographics?" is a question that many boards should be asking their management. If a significant percentage of the company's workforce, customer base and supplier base consists of Hispanics, does the company know what to do if the company causes a disruption in that relationship?

Futurists such as George Friedman are predicting that our country will be depending on Hispanics and immigrants from Mexico for our economic growth. "What is our standing with the Hispanic community?" is important for boards to ask before there is a crisis in the relationship.

The terms Hispnic and Latino are interchangeable. In different parts of the country, one term is preferred over the other. Within the Hispanic community itself; there is further preference for reference to ancestry, such as Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban-American and ,so forth. Why is this? Which term should companies use? How do these groups differ? These are questions I often get asked, and I am surprised at how answers to these basic questions am not well understood. Why am 75 percent of Hispanics located in eight states? The answer is closely tied to the history of Hispanics in America.

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