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Comcast Corporation:
2012 Company of the year
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The LATINA Style 50 Awards Ceremony and Diversity Leaders Conference

On Thursday, February 8th the ninth annual LATINA Style 50 Awards Ceremony and Diversity Leaders Conference brought together top Latinas in corporate America to honor the 50 best companies for Latinas to work for in the United States. Held at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington D.C, the event drew high-ranking Latinas in corporate America, corporate CEOs, Latina entrepreneurs, influential leaders, and federal and White House officials. This year’s awards mark the ninth year of the Awards ceremony and the fourth annual Diversity Leaders Conference. Following the conference was a special White House reception with keynote speaker U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral.

The LATINA Style 50 Awards Ceremony & Diversity Leaders Conference is one of the most recognized conferences for the Latina professional in the United States. Since 1998, the LATINA Style 50 is the most respected evaluation of corporate America’s policies and practices as they relate to working Latinas. The conference gives Latinas in corporate America and prominent diversity leaders from selected companies of the LATINA Style 50 an opportunity to exchange information and discuss prominent issues faced by Latinas in the workforce.

The conference commenced with a networking breakfast and welcoming remarks by Robert Bard, president and CEO of LATINA Style Magazine “It is with great pleasure and with great joy that I welcome you to Washington D.C.” he said enthusiastically. With satisfaction he introduced and welcomed the breakfast keynote speaker, the Honorable Congressman Joe Baca, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and representative of the 43rd district of California.

Baca congratulated the companies of the year being awarded for their leadership efforts in providing opportunities for Latinas in the workplace. He discussed ways of leadership in government and explained ways members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus advance professional opportunities for Latinos and Latinas. “Even though the glass ceiling has broken in many fields, there is still much more room for progress,” he said. “We must work together so Latinas are judged by their character and leadership, not by their gender.”

He also advised the audience on providing opportunities for Latinos in corporate America. “Let us challenge corporate America and ourselves to work hard to create a corporate environment,” he declared. “A society where all people are represented and all have the opportunity to succeed.” His advice was to expand the Hispanic role in corporate America and the way to do so is by sharing the best practices for recruitment, retention, executive development of Latinos and Latinas, so that they can reach their full potential. He closed his remarks by encouraging everyone to help each other, mentor, and share their success with Hispanic youth and most important of all, to achieve their dream.

Following Baca’s remarks, representatives of the LATINA Style 50 companies led panel discussions that addressed aspects of workplace diversity. These accomplished Latinas communicated their words of wisdom to the audience. Patt Cronin, general manager of ITD Productivity Initiatives, Integrated Operations at IBM, moderated the first panel, “Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling-Latina Executives Reach for the Stars.” Speakers included Michaeline Perez-Guzman, U.S. vice president for the east division at McDonald’s Corporation; Gisel Ruiz, vice president and regional general manager at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Grace Lieblein, vehicle chief engineer for Front Wheel Drive Trucks at General Motors Corporation; and Carmen Nava, senior vice president for consumer distribution at AT&T, Inc. Each panelist addressed professional and personal growth, goal strategies, confidence development, mentorship techniques, the importance of risk-taking and education. “Your willingness and your ability to be flexible and open to change is important. It’s all about putting yourself out there,” said Nava. “Hold your head up high, find that inner strength and be willing to take that change.”

According to Ruiz, it is very important to set goal strategies. “Set your own personal strategies based on the goals that you have and where you are on your career,” she affirmed. “You have to earn the opportunities and show other people that you can take on additional responsibilities, and also let people know that you are willing to do that.”
Cronin summarized the importance of “stretching” yourself by providing the following key points. “Do not be scared to take an assignment that you think is hard, excel at what you do and get those positive results, embrace family support, and be flexible and open to change, earn credibility. You have to continue to prove yourself over and over again, be open to others view of yourself allowing others to criticize you, we have to move the Latina agenda, and it is up to us Latinas to move it.”

After hearing practical and individualized self-improvement tips during the event’s first panel discussion, attendees were introduced to various diversification techniques companies have successfully employed and how they work.

The event’s second panel, “How the LATINA Style 50 Differentiate Themselves From the Rest: Recruitment, Retention and Promotion Programs that Work,” was moderated by Robert Bard and included Kriss Ann Fernandez, regional diversity manager at the central/west division for Cingular Wireless; Redia Anderson Banks, chief diversity officer, national principal for Diversity and Inclusion at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP; and Corliss Fong, operating vice president for Macy’s diversity management department.

Instead of letting diversity programs sit on the backburner of corporate agendas—as has been the case—a company must deeply embed human capital programs within its structure, explained panelists. “It’s important to mirror the value of customers through employees and to do so on a comprehensive basis,” said Fong. “Companies must expand corporate, ethnic and racial diversity. [A diversity program] should certainly not be a program du jour, but part of a culture.”

To assess the efficacy of diversification programs panelists agreed that it is necessary to determine how employees align with the company and how valuable they become to the company after being trained and developed. “The development of human capital and our ability to retain and enhance employees fuels the company’s pipeline, it is apparent that sustainable programs help professionals grow,” explained Anderson Banks.
The three panelists noted that retention is just as important as attraction for employees, since long-term efforts sustain and cultivate talent within a business. Some examples of effective programs mentioned were employee affinity groups and business resource groups. The lack of cross-pollination within companies was also targeted, because promotions often keep employees from seeking jobs in different departments. Fernandez said a good way to combat this is via affinity groups and focus studies, as these programs give employees the chance to network and enhance career development skills.

Following the second panel, a presentation by Roberto R. Ramirez, U.S. Census Bureau branch chief for the Ethnicity and Ancestry Statistics Branch detailed ever-increasing population numbers for the Hispanic population over past years and projections into future population trends. His presentation, titled “The Hispanic Population since Census 2000,” detailed numbers from 1970, when Hispanics made up 14 percent of the U.S. population, and predicted a nearly 25 percent population in 2050.

The third panel presentation, titled “Senior Executive Round Table—Is Diversity a Bottom Line Issue?” which entailed various methods of diversity integration and collaborative efforts companies take to attract a diverse employee pool, was moderated by Rosie Saez, director of leadership practices at Wachovia Corporation. Speakers included Ron Glover,

“How the LATINA Style 50 Companies Differentiate Themselves from the Rest” panel (left to right) Kriss Ann Fernandez of Cingular Wireless Inc., Redia Anderson Banks of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP and Corliss Fong of Macy’s"
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
“Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling” panel (left to right): Patt Cronin of IBM, Grace Lieblein of General Motors, Gisel Ruiz of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Michaeline Perez-Guzman of McDonald’s Corporation and Carmen Nava of AT&T Inc.
Senior Hispanic team at U.S. Bank (left to right) Antonio Lizano, Dianne Stewart, Susana Gonzalez Murillo, Lucille Connely, Mariangee Merino, Teresa Hilton and Juan Vargas
Congressman Joe Baca and Maritza Newman, Hispanic Segment Leader for Wachovia Corporation

vice president for the Global Workforce Diversity Operations for the Human Resources department at IBM; Marcia Vargas, vice president of the US Inclusion & Diversity at McDonald’s Corporation; Magda Yrizarry, vice president for the Workplace Culture, Diversity & Compliance at Verizon Communications; and David A. Gonzales, senior vice president of State Farm Mutual Insurance Companies.

A shared business attitude among panelists was that recruiting an employee base that is representative of its customer base is crucial for a company to succeed.

Vargas emphasized the importance of taking risks and capitalizing opportunities for companies. “Inclusion is a vision,” she said. “Diversity means inclusion and this goes beyond race and gender, because none of us is as good as all of us. Diversity must be integrated into everything a company does, from culture to language, because the moment of truth is when the customer walks in and feels welcome and invited.”

As Yrizarry sees it, diversity is not enough, “I didn’t have to look at the Census to know what my community was like culturally…the workforce at Verizon is representative of our customer base,” she said. “But we also look at employee opinion surveys—we need to look at our supplier base and understand…what are we doing philanthropically?”
Concluding the Diversity Leaders Conference was the Awards Ceremony Luncheon in which U.S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao emphasized the advantages of a diverse workforce. “Today, diversity is more important than ever before because our country is part of a worldwide economy,” she said. “Our country’s diversity is a competitive advantage that should be encouraged and cherished.”

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