The statement “Be aware that Hispanics come from a culture where corruption and mistrust are commonplace” perpetuates many stereotypes. There are many examples of corruption and mistrust in American society. However, I would be upset if anyone asserted that Americans come from a culture of corruption and mistrust. There are a number of ways to suggest that effective management and leadership requires building trust and being honest without making generalized disparaging statements about Hispanic cultures.
The heading that Education isn’t a high priority left me shaking my head. Lacking opportunity is NOT the same as not prioritizing. After all, I could name numerous highly educated Latinos in my own family and within the dairy industry. I urge you to read more about education in Latin American society. As Stephanie Elizondo Griest writes in Mexican Enough, “Education is so revered in Mexico, ‘Licenciado’ (holder of a bachelor’s degree) becomes part of your identity upon graduation. People often add the prefix onto business cards, and are addressed as such in formal settings” (2008). Education is a priority is most Latino societies, there simply is not an opportunity to gain an education.
You are certainly correct that there is a communication quandary on many dairies. Communication could be improved if more workers spoke English or if more operators and managers spoke Spanish. Being monolingual is unacceptable for professionals in the majority of the developed world. Effective communication always requires confirming that the other person understands your message- remember the childhood game ‘telephone’? Confirmation of your communication intent prevents misunderstandings in any language and is taught in most leadership and business management training.
Finally, I would like to address the statement, “Be aware there are cultural differences between Hispanics from Latin countries”. Thank you for pointing out that there is not one Hispanic culture. There are many and not all of them speak Spanish. However, it is my assumption that the statement should read, “Latin American countries”. Israel, Italy, Switzerland (Francophone), Spain, Portugal, and France are Latin European countries and I don’t think this article meant to include those cultures (Northouse, 2010).
My assumptions about the article are that it was written in a hurry and that the author is a good person who is not bigoted. This is a sensitive subject. As more and more Latinos find positions of influence in business, agriculture, education, politics and all other segments of American society, ethnocentric writing will be challenged more often. I also assume that education of producers and managers to be more culturally competent would eliminate a significant number of problems. I would be happy to discuss opportunities for such education if you would like.
I have included a list of references that I believe would be helpful in guiding any future articles on this subject.
Shannon L. Archibeque-Engle
Undergraduate Advisor, Department of Animal Sciences
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.