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Diversifying Corporate America

By Gloria Romano-Barrera.

Diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of issues challenging corporate America. Efforts to gain more diversity of thought, background and experience in both management as well as the C-suite has allowed for the development, participation, and visibility of untapped talent.

Today, Latina corporate executives are not only impacting the company’s bottom line, they are impacting the global economy, the health and direction of the business, and influencing the culture of corporate America.

Diversity and Inclusion is Critical for Success.

For Jaqueline Maestri, Vice President, Engineering & Property Services at Johnson & Johnson, the opportunity to work with a vast number of professionals from different backgrounds, experiences and a rich environment along with the ability to make a large-scale impact, is what drew her to corporate America. Showing passion for Johnson & Johnson’s Credo – with a responsibility to the patients, employees and communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well –along with a strong work ethic, Maestri climbed the executive ranks with an unstoppable force.

Responsible for providing strategic direction across Johnson and Johnson’s 1000+ properties worldwide, Maestri is the first woman to lead Worldwide Engineering for J&J. She and her team are driving facilities transformation across the company, harmonizing services and amenities, enabling business growth, and implementing forward-thinking workplace innovation that optimizes the employee experience, including activity-based neighborhoods, healthy lifestyle amenities and collaborative technology.

In order for success and business growth at J&J, Maestri believes diversity and inclusion is a business imperative. “The reason it is important is not only because it is the right thing to do and it is part of our values, but it is also really important for the business,” she shares. “In the healthcare world, our market is global, it’s diverse in gender, in culture and many other socioeconomic backgrounds. If your business doesn’t have this type of diversity, then you can’t really do that business justice.”

Fostering a positive energy and having an open dialogue with diverse teams has ultimately helped to innovate and bring in unique perspectives at Johnson & Johnson. “If everybody knows how to do one thing and think the same way, there are so many things they are going to miss,” she shares. “Being diverse is critical.” For corporate America business leaders, if they could stop a moment and think about the power that can be unleashed, that everyone can feel that they can bring their passion, their commitment, their style, their background, their experience forward to deliver business results, it really creates a virtuous cycle of success. If they [employees] feel valued and appreciated, they are motivated to give more of themselves, and hence the business gets even more productivity. It becomes a positive energy.”

Connecting with Others.

Brenda Durham, Senior Vice President and Regional General Counsel at Marriott International, Inc. understood early in her career Marriott’s global reach and integrity as a global industry leader. This along with Marriott’s successful business model, focus on developing associate careers and the pride Marriott associates expressed about the company, attracted her to Marriott.

Joining Marriott in 1999, it was immediately evident to Durham that her background, experience and skill set were important factors for her selection as the legal lead for operations support to Latin America.

“I realized early on that Marriott valued a culture of inclusion and diversity and recognized these as integral to how the company does business and a key component for success. This culture also provided me with opportunities to develop my skills as a business partner to the operators and developers in the region, represent Latinas within the company and to mentor, support, and promote the many talented Latinas in the region,” she says. “This was and is very meaningful to me and a source of great pride.”

Marriott’s senior ranking Latina, Durham supports the company’s focus on its many diversity and inclusion programs. “These programs help ensure that our diversity and inclusion strategy is implemented in the local markets with initiatives that include strategic partnerships, targeted recruitment campaigns, leadership development programs, diversity communications, conferences and outreach to associates,” she says.

For Durham, companies such as Marriott have “a responsibility to drive change by championing a culture of inclusion and opportunity.”

Diversity Matters.

“Recognize that diversity and inclusion are important to driving innovation and the bottom line,” shares Diana Morales, Vice President, Legal, Fire & Security Products at United Technologies Corporation. “It is always helpful to have various perspectives brought forward.”

Joining UTC as in-house counsel over 20 years ago, Morales always saw herself working for a large, multinational corporation because she wanted to travel, live overseas, and work in a challenging environment with people from diverse cultures all over the world.

For Morales diversity matters and today she takes pride to work for a company that is committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive workforce.

“One area where I’ve seen solid progress is in advancing women to leadership roles,” she shares. “Nearly a third of UTC’s global executives are women today.”

Today, UTC is part of the Paradigm for Parity (P4P) coalition with a goal of 50 percent women representation in their senior leadership roles by 2030. Also, UTC encourages Employee Resource Groups to help employees grow personally and professionally.

Proud of her Puerto Rican heritage Morales encourages Latinas to embrace their culture and lead by example, “we have a lot to offer,” she says.

Diversity is Key to Success.

“Diversity is core to who we are at AT&T,” says Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana. “Our customers, suppliers and investors are diverse. And we serve them best when our workforce is diverse.”

For Perez, Diversity is essential to AT&T’s culture and success. Diversity drives innovation and it is the first step toward inclusion — allowing a wide range of viewpoints to be heard and considered. Early in the history of AT&T, diversity of experience and skill set led to the development of many of the foundational elements of the modern technologies.

“Today, our team is one not only with a diversity of skills, but a team with a diversity of passions and pursuits,” she says. “A team focused not only on finding ways to keep our customers connected with one another, but a company that is also focused on staying connected with the many communities that our employees call home.”

As President of AT&T Louisiana, Perez is responsible for developing the overall strategic direction of AT&T’s corporate activities in the state.

Perez encourages corporate America to look at AT&T as an example of inclusiveness. “AT&T has built its reputation on innovation,” she states. “That innovation has been fueled by a variety of viewpoints from people who represent different generations, genders and cultures. Every member of AT&T’s workforce brings his or her own insight and ideas to create communications services that connect people around the world and deliver a superior customer experience.”

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