As many North Bay companies in the construction, agricultural, manufacturing and other industries hire an increasing number of Latino employees, it’s imperative that companies are clear on how to better understand the Latino culture and how to be more effective in communication as it relates to safety, wellness and education, and what it takes to coax, encourage and inspire their workforce to embrace leadership roles within their companies.

Employing Latino employees, which is increasingly the case with many North Bay companies in these industries, presents additional challenges because of the language and cultural barriers.

In today’s workplace, Latinos represent a significant and growing share of the workforce.

The majority of all employees coming to work want to do a good job and Latinos are no exception. They work hard, and strive to please their employers by going the extra mile to get the job done, but communication is a major issue.

In addition, cultural beliefs can sometimes cause Latinos to push the limits and not be as safety conscious as they should be.

How well Latinos perform in the workplace is related to how well they are managed. We want to give supervisors and managers the tools they need to improve the effectiveness of Latinos on the job, enhance overall performance as well as reduce occupational injuries.

Understanding cultural diversity can help companies develop communication programs to effectively address specific cultural nuances in order to influence the right behaviors.

To develop an effective company cultural intelligence it is important to dive deeply into the belief systems and preferences of their Latino workforce.

On March 16, the 12th annual “Latinos in the Workplace” conference will help enlighten and inform.

“Moving Forward Together” will emphasize maintaining a spirit of unity during our nation’s current political climate. The conference will provide information for business owners and their middle level managers and HR professionals on how to coax, encourage and empower their Latino workforce to achieve greater productivity through proper communication, education, wellness and safety initiatives, while helping companies better understand their traditional beliefs and learn from best practices.

This year’s conference topics include culture, diversity, communication, wellness, immigration and leadership.

Our speakers include:

• Supervisor Shirlee Zane, Sonoma County supervisor for the Third District.

• Juan T. Lopez, president of Amistad & Associates, on “The Diversity Collegium.”

• Cindy Gillespie, vice president Human Resources Amy’s Kitchen, speaking about “Your Workforce is your Most Important Investment.”

• Christopher Kerosky, founder of MyAmericanDreams.org, on “A Post-Election Conversation about Immigration in America,”

• Salvador Sanchez-Strawbridge, community outreach specialist city of Santa Rosa’s Violence Prevention Partnership, on “From Juvenile Hall to City Hall.”

• Marisela Garcia Marquez, founder/CEO Iberus, on “Capturing the Spirit of the Latino Millennial/”

This workshop will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Santa Rosa, on March 16 at the Flamingo Hotel and Resort at 2777 4th Street. The cost per person is $55. Conference organizers are the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and Mike Lopez, VANTREO Insurance Brokerage

Underwriting partners are Redwood Credit Union and the Press Democrat.

Registration or sponsorship, or for more information, call Ananda Sweet at Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce at 707-545-1414 or go to latinosintheworkplace.com.

Michael D. Lopez is vice president of VANTREO Insurance Brokerage. Lopez is the founder of the Annual “Latinos in the Workplace” conference. 707.546.2300, x237 or mlopez@vantreo.com.