Business leaders in Denver say they should start early to hire more Latinos.

According to Pew Research, Latinos make up 17% of all occupations, but when it comes to science, technology, engineering and math levels, they represent only 8% of STEM workers.

driving news; Diversity was the topic of an all-Latino panel at Denver Startup Week on Thursday, which this year focused on underrepresented groups.

  • Panelists included executives who agreed that one way the industry can improve recruitment and hiring is by exposing young people to opportunities while still in grade school.
  • Amazon Web Services CEO Tim Stevens-Armijo says big tech companies aren’t doing enough to let young people know there are career opportunities at their companies.

What they say: Juan Torres, associate director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at Golden, said, “We need to have role models who show us not to be afraid,” emphasizing mentoring as another way. Companies can help steer Latinos into STEM industries.

Suzy Lira-Gonzalez, co-founder of Denver-based INDX, a company she describes as the “Pinterest for learning,” says tech companies interested in hiring Latino talent should invest in their own businesses, including startups.

  • “And not as a charity case, but [as in] Look at this market opportunity we can open up,” said Lira-Gonzalez.

Between the lines; Stevens-Armijo said big tech companies should try to set up offices in predominantly Latino neighborhoods to provide resources such as free computer coding classes, as well as free tools to help kids start using tech-savvy tools.

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