My name is Cid Wilson. I am the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility based in Washington DC. ‘Hacer’, as we like to call ourselves, ‘hacer’ is HACR pronounced in Spanish, and we've been around since 1986. Our mission is to advance Hispanic inclusion in corporate America at levels that's commensurate to our economic contributions. We measure corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity through our four pillars, which is employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance. I've been the CEO now for three years.
I would describe myself as a servant leader. I'm a strong believer that leadership is not just about paving the way, but it's also about making sure you bring your community with you. And part of that means that you've got to know how to give back, you've got to have a heart to do this kind of work, and you've got to love the community – you've got to love the people. I am someone that really takes a lot of pride in serving the community and being a leader in service.
I would like my legacy to be someone who made a positive impact in our community. I grew up with in the Dominican community; the Dominican community really raised me and prepared me for who I am today, of course particularly my parents Dr. James and Nilda Wilson. And I want to know that my legacy is as someone that made a positive and lasting difference. So that whether it's one person that I made a difference to, or whether it's tens of thousands, that the leaders who are now moving forward and who have received the baton in leadership can continue to make a difference be servant leaders themselves. Because I strongly believe that if you come with a mindset that when you succeed you give back, but when you give back you succeed – and part of that means you've got to give back, you've got to serve, you've got to want to make a difference. And by keeping that momentum going that will take me long beyond my time and that's what I want to be remembered for.
Tell us about your career journey.
I like to think that my career journey was very similar to that movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ with Will Smith, because my career started on Wall Street. I worked at Pizza Hut as a waiter, and then I pursued my dream of working on Wall Street, and I couldn't get a job anywhere because I did not go to an Ivy League school. So, I was not what you call a ‘targeted recruit’ to work on Wall Street.
So, I went to an investment firm and I said, ‘I'll take any job that you have.’ And they said the only job that was available to me was an unpaid job working in the mailroom. And so I said I'll take that job, just pay me my lunch and pay for my bus transportation back home, and if I'm not the best mail boy that you've ever had you can fire me and we'll have a nice day. I made the offer to the investment firm that I would do that; they thought I was crazy. They said, ‘you really want to do this?’ I said, ‘I will do this.’ And so for four months I was an unpaid mail boy at an investment firm, but I knew that by being in the door that would allow me to get within the network at that investment firm.
At that time, I competed in the USA Today National Investment Challenge. I finished in the top three percentile of all competitors; in fact, at one point I was ranked in the top one percentile. I showed it to the investment firm that I was at, and they said ‘wow, you know you really are someone that can succeed in this field,’ And then that's why I found my mentor, my sponsor, his name was Howard Pirwitz – that firm, by the way, was Paine Webber which, is now UBS Financial. And so Howard Pirwitz in Columbus Ohio took me out of the mailroom and invested in me and the rest was history. He taught me everything, from how to dress to how to out how to eat dinner properly when you're at a business dinner, how to greet; all of these soft skills that were never taught to me when I was in college, but are so important in business and in the corporate sector and especially on Wall Street.
So that is where I went from the mailroom to an Assistant, an Assistant to an Associate. And then over this period of my career, I went from an Associate to a Junior Analyst, Junior Analyst to Senior Analyst, Senior Analyst to Vice President and Managing Director. And then you can imagine when I got the call from Forbes – when they were doing their ranking of their best Wall Street analysts –and in my field of specialization they ranked me Number One Equity Analyst in the nation, in my field. And so to go from the mailroom to the executive room was an incredible journey for me, but again because of that servant leadership side of me it was also about, ‘how can I share this with others to let them know that if a mail boy could become a number one ranked Wall Street analyst, there's nothing anybody can't do. If I can do it, then so can they.’
So that is where I got increasingly involved in a lot of nonprofit organizations. While I searched out some of them, because I was in the public and I was in the media many of them found me too. And I got on the board of LatinoJustice PERLDEnf which is one of the most premier legal defense funds in the country. I got on the board of directors of the National Council of La Raza, one of our nation's largest civil rights and advocacy organizations. I got appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Museum of the American Latino. And I've been on just about every major Network at some point, whether it's on the Wall Street side, or on the community side, or the leadership side. And then got very involved on the community college side, serving on the board of trustees at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey.
So that's kind of how it all started, but it really started with my decision to take a dream and turn it into a destiny. And that's how it led to being where I am now; where I became the President and Chief Executive Officer for HACR – the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.
When the opportunity presented itself to become the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, it was just one of those great opportunities that I saw, members of the board saw. And when we came together and they shared that they wanted me to be the next President and Chief Executive Officer, it was such a great honor for me because I have always tied my success with the opportunity to show corporate America that people of color can succeed. Whether you're black, whether you're Latino whether you're Asian-American whether you're LGBT, whether you're a woman, regardless of religion – Jewish, Muslim, Christian. That it's all about, if given the opportunity, that we can succeed and we can exceed, as well.
And so I felt that that was my Wall Street career, and I wanted to tie that together with the importance of Hispanic inclusion in Corporate America. And so now I get to bring my two lives together as one – my professional wall street, life my servant leadership life in the Latino community, as well as other multicultural communities, with the goal of showing Corporate America that diversity and inclusion is not mutually exclusive. You can have a strong diversity and inclusion initiative, and it can support, grow, and even accelerate your bottom line, your earnings potential, and even your profits and your valuations. Now I get to do this full-time, and it's been a great honor and great privilege to be the President and CEO for HACR.
What are your top accomplishments?
The greatest accomplishment for me is when I see the fruits of the investments we make in our youth. When I’m talking to a corporation about how they can be more effective in their recruiting, and simultaneously talking to our youth about what kind of opportunities are out here for them if they position themselves the right way. But also how we can be mentors to them, and be sponsors to those that really need that helping hand to steer them in the right direction. There is no greater satisfaction that I get, than when I get either a student who is making their career progressions now, or someone who I helped many years ago, who comes back to me and says, ‘Cid Wilson, I met you ten years ago when I was an undergraduate student, and now today, I’m a Vice President at this corporation – and it was because you did something that inspired me to think about how I can advance my career.’ And that just gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
The other sense of satisfaction that I get is when I know that I can leverage our organization’s influence, that I can leverage my influence as a CEO, to make a positive difference in our community. I am a vehement, staunch, unapologetic supporter of our nation’s dreamers; these are undocumented students who came here through no fault of their own. And all they want is the opportunity to have the same level of education that I had, and many of us had. And I know than in my current position, and someone who can make a difference, that I take a lot of time and a lot of emotion and a lot of energy to be very supportive to this group. Because this is a group that unfortunately has been sometimes targeted, sometimes they don’t get the level of respect that they deserve academically, and they are just as American as you and I are. When I was a teenager and got my first social security card, it never dawned on me to say, ‘am I an American citizen?’ Sure, I was born here. But how many of them go through the same exercise – getting ready to apply for financial aid – and at that moment they discover, ‘well unfortunately we brought you here when you were 1 years old, 3 years old, 5 years old.’ And now the opportunities for higher education have become that much more difficult.
And I think there is a place for leaders like me, leaders who are in the community, where Corporate America has a place, because these are many geniuses who are going to create those new products and services. Who are going to create those great ideas that companies can use to be more globally competitive. That can make those significant differences. We need to invest in all of our youth, regardless of their immigration status. And when we move forward in making sure that there are opportunities for all, that gives me a huge amount of satisfaction. I almost never turn down a speaking opportunity when asked by a a school regardless of where they are. This year, I was a keynote speaker at a school in Redding, Pennsylvania. Getting to Redding from Washington DC is not easy. But I know that for those kids that were able to hear my words on graduation day, I know that they’ll never forget those.
So those are things that I feel that we can do, because as leaders we are role models for the next generation of leaders. And we have – in my opinion –a moral obligation to give back and to make a difference, and be that point of light so that they know how to steer and navigate towards that goal, which they’re trying to achieve. Just a quick example of that – I was a major leader when we passed the New Jersey Dream Act, which is now the law of the state. And that was a concerted effort between the dreamers in New Jersey, the community college movement, labor and religious leaders and business leaders combined, coming together, saying that this was the right thing to do. There’s no greater satisfaction than to know that in the State of New Jersey – my home state – that if you have an opportunity to go to college, you can go to college, get in-state tuition, regardless of your immigration status. That is, to me, what it’s all about; and why it’s so important that as we succeed, we give back, because when we give back, we succeed.
How has your background influenced your success?
I was raised in a Dominican family – Dominican customs, Dominican culture, Dominican food, which of course I miss when I'm in Washington DC. It's very easy for me, when my mom says ‘you want to come home and have some dinner?’ I'm going to hop on the Acela Express and come from Washington DC and always be around my community and my culture. And so I grew up in a Dominican family – born in Washington Heights, raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, and went to school in Teaneck and Paramus, New Jersey.
But what's also very unique is that I'm Afro-Latino. And so being a black Latino gives me, I think, a very unique perspective on diversity and inclusion because I know exactly what it's like to be Latino, I know exactly what it's like to be black. And when I hear the challenges that are facing both the black and Latino communities, I understand it firsthand because I live it. I live it every single day. And that allowed me to look at my progression in a very unique way; number one is I knew that I needed to be very involved in both communities. Number two is I wanted to be that bridge between the black and Latino communities, when there are opportunities where we can come together and collaborate and think about what are some common solutions to the challenges that face our communities. And then be an example of not only the diversity that we have within the Latino community, but also within the black community – understanding that there are issues that affect immigrants who are black. And so there are a lot of these common challenges that take place.
So I feel that it that it was an opportunity for me to be the best I can be. Be the example of excellence. Be the example success. And then use that to make a positive difference, because I was very blessed that my parents raised me to think about how to succeed in America, and how to make sure that regardless of all these outside forces that happen in our country – we know that there are unfortunately those who judge you based on the color of your skin or by your accent – you can control what is within your destiny. And I wanted to make sure that regardless of those outside forces, that I want to be sure that people judge me as a black Latino who cares about the community and as someone that, given the opportunity, can succeed and exceed. And so that, I think, really carves me into the person that I am today.
I'm someone that just strongly believes in community, and strongly believes that as busy as we are – and heaven knows I travel heavily. But when my network of mentees and also those who I sponsor reach out to me, I always make time for them, because I know how valuable it is for them. That what might be even a 20-minute conversation with this young leader could be a lifetime change for that person. Because had it not been for my sponsor who discovered and took me out of the mailroom – who knows where I would be? But he invested in me, my parents invested in me, the community invested in me – so many stakeholders invested in me – and I want to be a walking ROI to the community, and make sure that I'm giving back in so many ways. And that's how I live my life every day.
I can probably think of multiple examples of the P.O.L.I.N.G.® principles and how that has helped me to make a difference in everything that I'm doing. A lot of what I do is very consistent with the P.O.L.I.N.G.® principles. And when I think about (P)riorities and (P)erseverance, we have so many employee resource group leaders that come from humble beginnings. Some of them may be first-generation immigrants, some of them may be born here but still had difficult challenges, but they got to where they are. And they want to share that they're not alone so that others feel that, ‘I’m in a group that that recognizes that we may have had some humble beginnings, but together we're making a difference.’
With (O)thers, it's not just about rising up the corporate ladder and lifting that ladder up when you get there. It's about how you keep the ladder at its base so that as you rise up, that others are rising up that ladder behind you. The ladder that you've created, that you built, and that you have used as an example of success. And so that's the ‘O’ in P.O.L.I.N.G.®.
When it comes to (L)ead in P.O.L.I.N.G.®, the ‘L’. It is so important that we lead by example. It's one thing to give advice on what others should do, but people watch what you do far more than what you say they should do. And it is so important that we stress to our leaders that as we talk about leadership, and as we talk about how we inspire and cultivate and mentor, that we must lead by example. I'm just a firm believer that talk less, do more and that will be far more visible and noticeable; and we can share that with others so that they can be the role models for the next generation of leaders.
When I think about the ‘I’ in P.O.L.I.N.G.® for (I)nspire, I think about how we need to be very public about telling our story. Don't be afraid to talk about some of the challenges that we faced. Sometimes we make the wrong assumption that the challenges we faced was unique to us, when there's a good chance that there's someone else out there that said, ‘you went through the same challenges that I'm going through now and yet look at you today, and you overcame that.’ It's important that we share our story. That we talk about how we overcame those challenges. And not to keep those stories to yourself – share with others, let them know that you made some mistakes. I’m a firm believer that there is success and then there are our learning experiences; and we're going to have those learning experiences in order to get to those areas of success. And then as we overcome those that we share those stories.
In fact, one of my favorite quotes was from the inspirational basketball player Michael Jordan – who was one of the best basketball players of all time. An inspiring athlete who is a man of high integrity and someone that so many people emulate. And yet my favorite quote from Michael Jordan is ‘I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career, I've lost over 300 games. On 26 occasions I was asked to take the winning shot and missed. I failed over and over and over again – that is why I succeed.’ And so I look at that as saying, don't be afraid to aspire to make a difference. Don't be afraid to think big. Don't be afraid to tell your story. Don't be afraid to be more public about who you are, because there are so many others that when they hear your story that it's going to inspire them to be their best.
(N)etwork is the ‘N’ in P.O.L.I.N.G.® and we cannot succeed without having a network. And that could be either your kitchen cabinet of people that you come to looking for advice and counsel, or your wider network of those who are seeing what you're doing, believing in what you're doing, supportive of what of the work that you're doing, and also giving you their feedback on what's happening out in the workforce or in the community. And that network is so important. When we think about the correlations of those who succeed, you will find that people who succeed know how to network, know how to leverage their network, know how to cultivate the network, contribute to the network, and know how to take the best of those networks and make them your kitchen cabinet network. The ones that are very very close to you, that you can get advice and counsel so that as you think about your career decisions, as you think about your trajectory in the short intermediate and long term, as you're thinking about how you can be a servant leader to your network, that that is going to be a key component to succeeding and to building that legacy.
So when we look at the ‘G ‘and P.O.L.I.N.G.® - ‘G’ being for (G)row; growth is so important. Because it is a human need, it is a common trait that either we're growing or we're going in the opposite direction, and we always want to be growing. And so whether it's personal growth, professional growth, growth in terms of how we can be better at what we're doing, learning from our experiences and always learning new things that can help you be a stronger leader a better servant a much more giving contributor to our community – those keys are so important. And so whether it's growing by learning new cultures, growing by understanding that all of us together can make a difference, understanding that growing may mean learning another language, understanding each other and our diversities; and when you think about that not only from a personal standpoint, but how you can bring that to your employer, to your community, and understanding those appreciations, are so important.
I'll give one example of this, and that is for me has been a journey of language growth. Even though I am Dominican American, I really didn't strengthen my Spanish until I got to college. Because I was raised in the US like many Hispanic and Latinos and many other immigrants that are born here to immigrant parents, but I understood something that was very important in terms of why was it important for me to embrace Spanish. And there was a saying that I remember that is, ‘when you speak to someone in a language they understand it goes to their head. Speak to them in their language it goes to their heart.’ And now I feel like when I speak Spanish, cuando hablo español, I'm speaking directly to someone’s heart. And that could be a big difference in not only growing professionally, growing personally, but also growing spiritually inside by speaking to one's heart. And so those are examples of how we can use ‘G’ and growth, as we continue to grow and become stronger leaders and ultimately a stronger society overall.
On the POWER® Framework
When I think about the principles of P.O.W.E.R.® - the acronym P.O.W.E.R.®, which stands for Priorites, Obligations, Worthwhile Activities, Energy, and Resources – those are such key principles that resonate with me and things I have done in my life. Because when you think about our (P)riorities, when we think about why do we do what we do; many times when we think about who we’re doing this for, of course we always think about our families. Why we need to succeed and make a difference – we think about our families, we think about our community.
(O)bligations. I am a firm believer that we have an obligation that when we succeed, we always keep the door open and give back and make a difference. And when we think about (E)nergy and how we can make sure that we’re thinking about worthwhile energy, and how we prioritize our energy; I’ve always found that when you’re determined and when you’re motivated to achieve a goal, you will be amazed at the internal resources that you have that will just energize you to do what you’re doing. I’m someone that is an early riser – I usually wake at 4:30 in the morning every weekday to get the day started very early. But I actually take joy in that because I think about P.O.W.E.R.®.
And when I think about (R)esources that are so important, whether it’s personal resources that we might get through great authors, great mentors, great individuals that can help make a positive difference. Those are things that I think truly exemplify P.O.W.E.R.® and the acronym P.O.W.E.R.®.
What challenges have you faced because of your background?
When I think about how my background may be a challenge; sometimes you're balancing what you need to do operationally within your career – obviously the work that needs to be done – with finding time to do those things that you are very passionate about. And that's not easy, particularly since I worked on Wall Street for 21 years and Wall Street is a very cutthroat industry that expects you to be at your best at all times. And so that was certainly a challenge, but I think that the way I overcame that was by making my employer a stakeholder. So instead of apologizing for having to take time off because I'm taking some kids who are in a middle school to the New York Stock Exchange to give them a tour, I got them to buy into it and say, ‘well that's great, how can we support you more,’ because companies want to be good corporate citizens. So that was one of the things that I overcame so that I didn't feel like I have to apologize for taking some time off to do things important in the community.
But there's also the challenges that we face every day. Yes, there's racism in America. Yes, there's bigotry in America. Yes, there are a lot of these elements that are in our country, which we need to address, which we need to eradicate, which need to make sure that we understand that we were all God's children. And so I am one who is a strong believer that I may not be able to change the whole wide world, but I can change people one person at a time. And turning someone from someone who sees you in the wrong way because they're looking at you because of your skin color, or your accent, or your background; so that way they now not only see my success, but they're also conscious of my culture. I think that it is important that we have a color and culturally conscious society, meaning that when I see someone that is Asian-American I recognize that comes with a culture. That if I see someone that is Arab American or Eastern European or of another culture, or a Hindu, that I understand that there is a culture behind that person, and it's a matter of appreciating it, celebrating it, and learning from those cultures. Because that I think is how we have a much more harmonious society.
I'm always very conscious when someone says, ‘well, I'm completely colorblind to everything.’ And while I think that may be well intended, the challenge is that I'm not sure that I don't want someone to see that I'm black, and that I'm Dominican, and that I’m Latino. I want them to see me for who I am completely –internally and externally – and recognize that with that there is a culture, there's a language, there are things that I want you to appreciate. Because that is the truest sense of diversity and inclusion.
So that is what I would love to continue to attain, but when I get those kinds of challenges, that is where I feel like it is my role to teach people about what it's like to be a black Latino Dominican-American born in Washington Heights, New York City and raised in New Jersey, and who has been involved in both communities, and who loves my community, loves giving back, and loves being engaging, and recognizes that in the end we only have a limited time to make a difference on this earth. And the time that we have, we want to make sure that we're maximizing it. And then making that difference so that when the baton is passed to the next generation, that they have the tools and the leadership and the inspiration to move forward. And that to me is all about Inspiring Diversity.
Who are the people who have influenced you most?
When I think about those people who have influenced me, of course besides naturally my parents, and many community leaders, I think about leaders like Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who is the first Dominican-American in Congress. He's someone that I have watched over 20 years, very committed to the community, and took me under his wing and taught me a lot about the importance of giving back. And every time I rose up the corporate ladder, he was always a reminder to me that as you rise up just know that there are others that are watching you and make sure that you succeed and come back into the community.
I think of leaders like Tony Robbins who I had the honor and privilege of meeting many many many years ago – almost 15 years ago – and got to learn from him first-hand about not only how we can live very purposefully, but understand why we do what we do. And then I think, of course, about leaders like former President Barack Obama – what he did to overcome some of the challenges to become the first African American President of the United States is just so inspiring. And these are some of the many examples that I look to and say that – if it can be done it can be done by me, and it can be done by you, and it can be done by anyone who strives to achieve very high goals.
And so I've adopted a personal belief, and this is sort of almost like my little personal mission statement, and that is, ‘I, Cid Wilson, see, feel, hear, and know that the purpose of my life is to be an outstanding servant leader that is doing a major difference in our community, and doing passionate things for my community and for our people. Because it is so important that as we think big and as we aspire big and as we think about what this means for our community, that I need to plan to achieve, but dare to exceed, then great results you will see. When you plan to achieve, but you dare to exceed, then great results you will see.’ And that I think is my mission statement, my personal mission and ultimately my legacy, as we as we continue to make a difference in our community.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
So if I were giving advice to my younger self, I would say ‘expand your horizons.’ While I was blessed that I grew up in a very culturally rich community, I would love to tell my younger self, there are so many other culturally rich communities to learn from. Go and spend time with those communities; learn their cultures, learn many of the unique things that make those communities so rich. And if possible, travel and spend time in those communities.
It's unfortunate that it took me so long for me to visit China for the very first time, and I only visited China last year for the very first time in my entire life. And I wish that I had done it far earlier in my career, so that I can just learn about the uniqueness of Asian culture –whether it's China or many other Asian countries. So that I can go to some South American countries and learn about the indigenous histories that are present in many of our South American countries, Central American countries, and even in Mexico. To learn about some of these cultures in Africa, and the uniqueness of the very culturally diverse countries and cultures in Africa. To see the commonalities between these diverse countries and these diverse communities and how this makes America such an amazing country that leverages the power of diversity and inclusion. Because when we think about these culturally rich communities, and we see how immigrants came to this country seeking better opportunities, seeking better lives for them and their families, and then you see them rise up here in America and not only succeeding, but being proud of who we are as culturally rich communities. To me, that is the truest underlying boldface italics everything that comes with being an inspiring diverse leader. And I think that's what Inspiring Diversity is all about.
What is your call to action for individuals?
My call to action for diverse leaders that want to succeed and to rise up is, number one – seek all leaders that can give you that advice and counsel and mentorship, even if that person is not from your community. Make sure that you're sharing your success examples, your best practices with other communities, so that we all can rise up within the corporate ladder. And don't be afraid to take – even if it's a lateral move or another side move – that can put you on a faster track. As you look ahead and you're asking yourself, ‘what am I doing to move up the ladder?’ And if I know that a certain position requires certain talents, or a particular professional background, and you know that there's a vacuum within your own personal career that is not there, you may need to take a lateral move into a position so that you can get those talents.
A great example of this is that I hear a lot from corporations about the importance of their professionals being mobile and being able to take opportunities abroad. We're now in a global corporate world, and when we think about the leaders that are becoming Chief Executive Officers today, you're finding more and more have some global experience, whether it's working abroad or they worked in a different community, or they brought something that is different and unique that differentiate themselves from the other from the remaining pool. So if you're Hispanic or Latino, take that opportunity to work in China. If you're Asian-American, take that opportunity to take that assignment in Mexico or in South America. If you're someone that is of Indian American or Hindu descent, then take the opportunity to take that assignment in Europe or in Africa or other areas.
In other words, by broadening your horizons, then when that promotion presents itself for you to come back to the US and now in a higher level, now you're on a faster pace. And sometimes that requires you to identify some mentors and some sponsors that have done that, because you know these are not easy. But as we also know, as you start getting more into the C-suite, there are fewer positions and it gets much more competitive; and when you're thinking about the corporate board, it gets very competitive, and so how do you differentiate yourself from others?
My role is to get corporations to do the right thing when it comes to championing diversity and inclusion from the Board to the C-suite, down to the front line. And simultaneously, it's also about how we can support the pipeline of leaders to rise up and what are some of the common traits of success, whether it's taking assignments abroad, whether it's knowing how to make a lateral move into a different department or a different part of the business so that you understand those businesses that ultimately can help you rise up the corporate ladder. All of these things that together, when you put that together, it equates to a strong model for diversity and inclusion success.
What is your call to action for organizations?
When I think about a call to action by corporations, when it comes to diversity and inclusion, my message is very simple, and that is, ’don't just support diversity and inclusion, you must champion it.’ There is a difference between a supporter and a champion. A supporter believes in the principles of diversity and inclusion. A champion is going to act on the importance of diversity and inclusion. And by acting on it, it means that being conscious that when you're looking for diverse candidates, or candidates that can accomplish the work that needs to be done, that it's not just about going to the person to your right or to your left who may not be diverse, but they may be in that close-knit circle and asking them who they know. Be very conscious about going into communities and recruiting from leaders in those communities, because one thing that I know with absolute certainty and that is we have qualified leaders in our communities who can achieve and exceed if given the opportunity.
But that means that corporations must become champions of diversity and inclusion, and that means being very conscious about: where they go to seek diverse talents; where they go to make sure that they're getting the right information to cultivate their internal talent pool; and what they do to make sure that we are mentoring and sponsoring a pipeline of development, so that as our leaders move up the corporate ladder that there is a conscious effort to make sure that those pipelines are there. Because the reality is that there is still unconscious bias that is out there, and even if it's not intended, it's there. And because of that unconscious bias, is why we need champions of diversity and inclusion. And so my call to action for Corporate America is, ‘don't just be a supporter of diversity and inclusion. Be a champion of diversity and inclusion.’
What are your thoughts on the iD community?
When I think about Inspiring Diversity and how Inspiring Diversity can make a difference in the importance of diversity and inclusion and the message that companies need to recognize to embrace and be champions of diversity; I think about how we need to be together as a community. Whether it's giving a helping hand to one another, whether it's giving a hug sometimes when we need that hug, whether it's giving that direction so that we can navigate our community into that right direction, whether it's being that voice – being that mentor, being the sponsor, being a voice is so important.
But when we think about this from a community standpoint, as multiple people do this, especially multiple people representing multiple communities – the common goal that diversity and inclusion is not just a check mark, it is a business imperative. And we can be that example. And together we reflect the change, we reflect the positive direction that we are going, and we know that we can do this all together – and that to me is what Inspiring Diversity is all about.
Tell us something about you that no one would guess.
When I think about something about me that people wouldn’t guess – they probably wouldn’t guess that I love a good science-fiction movie. Whether it’s Godzilla or Star Wars or even Star Trek, things like that can be just a fun thing to do. And I think about the fact that I love to read inspiring books and do those kinds of fun things.
But I also love to do things that are very adventurous. Whether it’s skydiving out of a plane, whether it’s scuba diving in waters that are known to be infested with sharks, whether its finding these adventurous things that strengthen our internal courage muscles. Because when I think about skydiving, for example, I think about the fact that when you’re jumping out of a plane – 10,000 feet - there’s a lot of faith that is involved. Because you have faith that the parachute is going to open up, you have faith that you’re going to land safely, and you have faith that others did everything that they could to make sure that it led to a safe jump out of that plane.
But when I think about that - if I can jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet, then speaking in front of an audience of thousands should be a cakewalk. Because the worst-case scenario is maybe you stumble on your speech. But the worst-case scenario when you’re skydiving – anything that goes wrong in a skydive – could be catastrophic. And yet you do that because I feel like it strengthens my courage muscles when I am thinking about, ‘do I take that chance? Do I take that risk? Do I stretch myself further into an uncomfortable zone?’ And to move forward even when you’re in a state of discomfort doing something that you’re not familiar with.
I think about those adventurous sides of me, whether it’s skydiving, scuba diving, or anything else that could be very adventurous. But for me, those are ‘building courage muscles’ and that’s something that I think many people may not know about me.
On Hispanic Heritage Month
When I think about Hispanic Heritage Month, it's a time of great pride for me as a Latino who is someone that is proud of my heritage, proud of my language, proud of what we've contributed, proud of what Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our country since the inception of our union. And even long before the United States became the United States of America. When we think about our ancestors who participated in virtually every war that has ever taken place, even going back to the American Revolution. When we think about the fact that the first settlement was not Jamestown, Virginia. It was St. Augustine, Florida. When we think about the fact that the oldest state capital was not in the thirteen colonies. It was actually Santa Fe, New Mexico – that was a state capital long before the thirteen colonies got their independence and became their own States. Of course Santa Fe was still a colony, but yet there's so much rich history of Hispanics and Latinos that have made a difference in our country going back 500 years.
It's a time of pride, it’s a time to share our culture, to remind America that while Hispanic Heritage Month is a heightened time for us, that Hispanic heritage happens all year long, every single day. And it is important for you to see me as the child of immigrants, see me as a proud Latino Dominican American black Latino that that is making a positive difference professionally and personally. And so it's a time of great pride and also a time to give thanks to many of our leaders who have opened the doors for so many of us as Hispanics and Latinos – whether it's a Cesar Chavez or Dolores Huerta or other keys civil rights leaders.