National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed every year from September 15–October 15. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the cultures, histories and achievements of Americans who have roots in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. For me, it’s a commemorative month, as it reminds us of those who have come before us and made incredible sacrifices to pave a better path for future generations. I migrated to this country from Argentina at the age of 13, along with my family who left everything behind –a great home and their careers – in hopes of building a better future for me and my two younger siblings. Having to learn English, discover new customs and make friends in my new home of New Jersey, I worked hard just as my parents taught me and went on to graduate high school within the top 1 percent academically.
Moving forward to the present, as a Latina executive, it makes me proud to work within an environment that celebrates diversity. I’ve had numerous opportunities to participate in events throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month that not only highlight AT&T’s longstanding commitment to diversity, but also further that commitment.
At AT&T we also seek to engage and support diverse communities, particularly through various educational initiatives geared toward underrepresented groups.
Last month, I attended the HACEMOS Conference in Dallas in conjunction with the 2014 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) Conference. HACEMOS, AT&T’s Hispanic/Latino employee association, has 34 nationwide chapters and over 6,300 members, all working to support and encourage each other while reflecting our company’s passion for workforce inclusion. These conferences brought together senior leadership from across the company with the best and brightest leaders from AT&T ERGs in order to create connections and opportunities, share accomplishments and review goals.
Inclusiveness is built into AT&T’s company culture and we believe that diversity at all levels of our workforce is critical to our success. HACEMOS and our other ERGs bring value to our shareholders as well. A recent National Council of La Raza (NCLR) blog post highlighted the effort of major tech companies to improve their diversity numbers. I’m so proud that workforce diversity at AT&T is well-established and that our commitment remains strong.
In fact, at the recent United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Convention, AT&T was once again included in the Million Dollar Club. This award, which AT&T has received every year since its launch in 2010, honors and celebrates the commitment of corporations and their procurement executives who recognize the value of Hispanic Business Enterprises. The honorees spend from $25 million to over $500 million annually with Hispanic suppliers.
Our commitment extends beyond our own company. At AT&T we also seek to engage and support diverse communities, particularly through various educational initiatives geared toward underrepresented groups. This is an aspect of our corporate culture of which I’m especially honored to be a part. I recently participated in an “Advocacy 101” panel during the LULAC National Education Services Centers (LNESC) Washington Youth Leadership Seminar. At the panel, I addressed an audience of Latino high school students, talked about my experience as a Latina executive, and shared my journey. I spoke about coming from Argentina at an age younger than they and overcoming obstacles that have helped guide me to where I am today. I also explained the importance of the advocacy process and discussed our #ItCanWait campaign, which was familiar to over 85 percent of the audience. Because Latino students are underrepresented in STEM fields, I took an opportunity to encourage students to pursue STEM careers. I sincerely hope that many of them will do just that.
Although this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month has concluded, AT&T’s commitment to diversity applies all year long. That’s worth celebrating.