Are You Prepared to Change With America’s Changing Population?

A new innovative test helps organizations improve treatment of culturally diverse groups.

The 2020 Census reported the presence of 121.6 million multicultural persons in the United States including Latinos, Blacks and Asians signaling the growing presence of a segment of the population that has contributed significantly to the quality of life in the U.S. while also challenging its tolerance for increasing demographic, linguistic and cultural diversity.

Their positive contributions are well documented in terms of increased consumer spending, business formation, contributions to the Social Security system, intellectual property, and defense of our nation during times of war and conflict.

By contrast, challenges to the collective intolerance of our nation for this increasing diversity is clearly observable in terms of elevated hate crimes; continuing segregation in terms of housing, education and social networks; continued redlining practices in the banking and food industries; and violence targeted toward ethnic and religious groups.

Ironically, while the presence of multicultural persons has been increasing, our communities remain relatively isolated and uninformed about multicultural persons a situation that encourages the use of common stereotypes and misperceptions in decisions regarding their quality of life.

For example, past research confirms the disturbing consequences on human behavior when objective knowledge and beliefs about race-ethnic groups are replaced by negative stereotypes and misperceptions: 

  • Medical residents who held false beliefs about Black patients were more likely to recommend inappropriate pain management therapy compared to white patients.
  • A Boston police academy was training police cadets to administer extra doses of pepper spray to Mexican suspects because it was believed that Mexicans had built up a resistance due to consuming a lot of hot peppers.
  • Hate crimes against Asians have escalated in the U.S. as an outcome of perceptions that they imported COVID-19 into the country.
  • The mass killing of 23 El Paso residents by a domestic terrorist was motivated by a white conspiracy theory. The perpetrator allegedly told investigators following his arrest that he set out to kill as many Mexicans as he could.

Indeed, it is not difficult to understand how negative stereotypes and incorrect beliefs can encourage the mistreatment and violence toward U.S. Latinos, Blacks and Asians.

These behaviors are further reinforced by the collective indifference of educators and corporate America toward improving essential knowledge about multicultural populations among its college graduates and workforce. The consequences of this collective indifference are observed in other ways as well, including:

  • Advertisements with the wrong messaging;
  • Unsuccessful campaign outcomes;
  • Use of outdated or offensive race-ethnic labels;
  • Poor customer service;
  • Product rejection;
  • Biased research; and
  • Overlooked opportunities.

Traditional screening tools to identify multicultural knowledge or talent are not very useful. They do not measure multicultural knowledge or beliefs and usually rely instead on a person’s cultural background or language skills, or just ignore this dimension altogether.

A team of multicultural experts, organized by Rincon & Associates LLC, believes their newly developed Multicultural Insights Test (MIT) offers some promise to address the dilemma of a workforce with limited knowledge about multicultural persons. The MIT is a diagnostic tool that measures a person’s current knowledge and beliefs regarding U.S. Latinos, Blacks and Asians and estimates their readiness to perform certain jobs or tasks with these growing population segments thus, facilitating a more successful experience in education, employment and research studies.

The MIT probes for information in six core areas that represent a sampling of essential knowledge for persons who are currently, or planning to be, involved in multicultural-focused jobs, campaigns or activities. These six core areas are: Demographic Concepts & Trends; Language Behavior; History; Lifestyle; Beliefs/Perceptions; and Decision Making.

During the current test development phase of the MIT, which ends on April 15, 2022, Rincón & Associates is offering at no cost an individual Test Score Profile generated by the Multicultural Insights Test. To complete the quiz, click here.

The Test Score Profile, a confidential report that test-takers receive via email upon completion of the MIT, is likely to benefit several potential users who perceive a need to upgrade their understanding and insights regarding the U.S. multicultural population, including employers, students, faculty members, public agencies, and research professionals. In addition, the information collected will allow the research team to improve the content and design of the MIT.

The Multicultural Insights Test was developed by a consortium of leading multicultural experts including this author; Mandy Sha, MA, PMP; David R. Morse, founder of the multicultural market research firm, New American Dimension; Dexter Purnell, DBA, lecturer at the University of North Texas; and Jason Greer, MSW, MRIR, founder and president of Greer Consulting Inc., a labor management and employee relations consulting firm in St Louis.

Edward T. Rincón, Ph.D., is a research psychologist with a 45-year track record of conducting research studies for U.S. private, public and academic institutions. He currently teaches Multicultural Research Methods at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Business. A frequent speaker and writer on multicultural issues related to research and quality of life, Rincón recently published a book, "The Culture of Research," which reviews the various sources of bias associated with studies of multicultural populations in the U.S. He can be reached at [email protected]

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.