by Jose Mas, CEO Mastec
Hispanic Heritage Month is well underway and the nation’s capital is celebrating with a strong lineup of events. Just last week, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) held its much anticipated Annual Policy Conference – with much of the discussion lending itself to issues concerning job creation, the economy, diversity in the workplace, and education.
One particular session presented a strong showing of business and community leaders. The session entitled “Transformation of Hispanics in Communications & Diversity in Corporate America” focused on the importance of diverse corporate leadership in today’s society and highlighted the role that education and technology play in job security.
Fortune 500 companies represented on the panel included Executive Vice President of Comcast, David Cohen, and AT&T Chief Diversity Officer Debbie Storey (among others) – along with Time Warner Cable delivering opening remarks.
The discussion that was had during this panel is an important one. The number of Hispanics represented on corporate boards should be higher; however, Hispanics need to be proactive if they are looking to get recruited. The nation’s growing Hispanic population alone will not get Hispanics on corporate boards. Leveraging Hispanics’ growing numbers by increasing the number of Hispanics receiving college degrees, encouraging Hispanics to enter fields with low Hispanic representation (such as the engineering and information technology sectors), providing business resources to new and existing Hispanic-owned businesses in an effort to help these businesses grow and succeed, and ensuring that Hispanics are using broadband and wireless technology to get ahead will help diversify the private sector and create a pipeline of strong Hispanic business leaders that can represent Hispanic interests inside and outside of the corporate board room.
During the panel, AT&T’s Debbie Storey spoke very highly of AT&T’s diversity record and its commitment to create and drive a culture of diversity. One of AT&T’s top Executives, Ralph de la Vega, is a talented businessman that I have much respect for – a professional that serves as an example of AT&T’s commitment to diversity and Hispanics’ ability to change the face of the private sector.
AT&T, along with companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable have found that education is a key component to increasing diversity in the private sector. All of these companies’ education-focused approaches for creating America’s Hispanic business leaders and workforce of tomorrow are admirable. Corporate driven educational initiatives geared towards improving educational attainment levels for Hispanic students are making a difference by giving Hispanic students a chance to dream big, while also providing the skills necessary to succeed academically and professionally.
But ultimately, in order for Hispanics to play a stronger role in the private sector – whether it’s sitting on corporate boards, entering fields with low Hispanic representation, improving success rates for Hispanic small businesses, or creating more employment opportunities for Hispanic workers – we, as a community, will need to make the necessary changes to create this reality. This requires a strong family and community foundation, as well as access to reliable academic and professional networks. Hispanics are certainly not lacking in ideas, ambition or ingenuity, but we need to make sure that the necessary steps are being taken to ensure that Hispanics are fully represented in all sectors of our fast growing and diverse American society. Education and digital literacy skills are crucial in this effort.