Business community discusses importance of multiculturalism and bilingualism at conference

During the 3rd annual Bilingual Business Conference of Arizona, hosted at Phoenix College by local nonprofit Compass CBS Foundation, business professionals and students had opportunities to hear guest speakers present strategies for embracing multiculturalism and the benefits of doing so. 

“We want to be the sounding voice that multiculturalism has a place in the economy and that it brings value to a lot of people’s lives… not just in business,” said Edgar Olivo, CEO of Compass CBS Foundation.

Edgar Olivo, CEO of the Compass CBS foundation, speaks about the importance of bilingual business communications during the Bilingual Business Conference in Phoenix on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo by Nick Serpa, Chamber Business News)

Olivo has worked with the City of Phoenix and other organizations to develop bilingual entrepreneurship and business accelerator programs that have reached thousands of people, says that many businesses are failing to reach Arizona’s growing Hispanic population. That’s partially because many of these businesses haven’t invested enough in creating a corporate culture that can adequately target these diverse audiences, he said.

“If you’re going to invest in bilingualism, you would start with defining what your marketing message is going to be to the ethnic group that you want to target,” Olivo said. “But if you’re going to be getting some of that advice, get it from people of that community — get it from people of that culture, so that the message hits right on the nail.”

On top of hiring a diverse workforce, Olivo says businesses can do things like offer workplace training programs in multiple languages or partner with local cultural organizations. Investing in culture-oriented or multi-language workplace programming can provide opportunities for employees to embrace their heritage or language, he says, which can help businesses reach more diverse audiences.

“There are many ways, and they do have tangible effects on the business,” he said. “It’s just up to that business or corporation to decide, what are you looking for?”

Natalia Ronceria Ceballos, Executive Director of the Solutions Hub at Valley of teh Sun United Way, discusses cultural appreciation and appropriation during the Bilingual Business Conference in Phoenix on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo by Nick Serpa, Chamber Business News)

Guest speakers at the Bilingual Business Conference included Natalia Ronceria Ceballos, Executive Director of the Solutions Hub at Valley of the Sun United Way, who discussed how businesses can target their messaging towards different cultures without straddling the line of cultural appropriation.  

One conference attendee, Laura Nachmanson, is starting a business called Documovil that will provide document preparation, translation, and notary services for Arizona’s Hispanic population. She says she’s trying to help provide resources to a community that may struggle to access or understand what can be a complicated informational landscape.

“I’m trying to get to them by helping them, because sometimes we don’t have the resources to get the information, or just we don’t have access to the technology because we don’t know how to use it or something,” she said. “I’m an immigrant here, so I have lots of things that I want to share with my community here and my community back in Mexico.”  

Nachmanson said she learned a lot of marketing strategies at the conference that she hopes will help her continue to grow her business. 

“I think this will impact my business, knowing that I can do more for my community here in Phoenix, and that I can use some of their marketing tools that they have given me here,” she said. “It’s so important that these events are here in Phoenix.”

Nick Serpa

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