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Large corporations seek to invest more in diverse populations. Photo: Pixabay.

The importance of community work for large corporations in the U.S.

A talk from the 30th Annual HACR Symposium that highlights the work of these organizations to involve communities more in their processes.

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Exploring the strategic importance of adding to corporate initiatives of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) the participation of the communities they serve, the presentation "Creating Shared Value by Strengthening Corporate Community Impact" offered an updated overview of the work that important companies with a global reach advance to strengthen relationships with diverse audiences and involve them in their different educational and leadership programs.

From the hand of Melissa Flores, in charge of Community Relations for McDonald's in Chicago; Denise Baek, Vice President of Human Resources for Medtronic; and Lupe De La Cruz, senior director of Government Affairs at PepsiCo, Inc., the talk revolved around what these corporations are doing to work more closely and culturally correct with diverse communities, which are becoming more important every day for company demographics and business strategies.

What Are The Big Corporations Doing In Their DEI-Focused Strategies?

Endorsed by these three renowned corporate leaders, all with multicultural backgrounds and advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and their communities, it is important to highlight their invitation to these diverse groups to raise their voices and begin to direct all the opportunities that large companies are offering them to develop their careers and change the narrative around all the potential and talent that these groups can bring to any organization.

“I have found so much purpose in the work I do at McDonald's, generating growth, not only financially, but also socially in the community I serve. Diversity is good for the company's finances, but it's also good for us, because it helps us attract talent,” said Flores.

For her part, Baek highlighted how Meditronic, an American medical device company, promotes different volunteer initiatives in which company employees offer their time and skills to help others, while having a department dedicated solely to diversity issues.

“Our foundation is always looking for investment areas. We especially have a focus on education for the Hispanic communities,” Baek added.

Likewise, De La Cruz noted the way PepsiCo has assumed its DEI commitments, a journey, as the company calls it, that has evolved from a search for diversity, to a level that tries to expand these actions in a more inclusive and equitable way. 

How Are Communities Benefiting?

Beyond complying with their social responsibility policies, these companies underscore how each of their initiatives is designed, not only to favor their business management, but also to empower these communities to generate a great explosion of talent.

“It's satisfying to do a job that impacts communities, locally and globally. I get up every morning full of energy to do this work that generates a positive impact on people and drives them to make a better world,” Flores stressed, emphasizing her important work as a connector between the company and people, and her opportunity to open doors.

Highlighting how as a young woman she received support to achieve her goals, Baek underlined the need to offer and ask for help, especially to resolve those specific doubts that arise along the professional path and when reaching leadership positions.

“We need mentors so we don't abandon our projects. Many Hispanic students enter college, but also many drop out after just one year,” added Baek.

De La Cruz stressed:

It is an obligation to stand out for the effort our parents made, but it is also an obligation, when we enter the meetings, to raise our voices and make room for others like us.

The Moment Of Opportunity

Seeking to take the corporate DEI approach to the next level, the multicultural leaders took the opportunity to mention some currently active programs that were designed to empower diverse communities, both inside and outside companies.

McDonald's sign. Photo: Pixabay.
McDonald's sign. Photo: Pixabay.

These are some of the initiatives of McDonald's:

  • Announced $5 million investment for youth of color
  • Support more than 40 nonprofit organizations that support diverse communities
  • It is supporting education programs and campaigns against violence
  • It has doubled investments in Chicago focused on Hispanic communities

De La Cruz, for his part, stressed the value of data, and how we should take advantage of existing studies and figures to focus aid and DEI efforts on the populations that demand it.

"Investing in the community is different from donating money," concluded De La Cruz, emphasizing how his company takes responsibility for the investments it makes, offering training, resources and spaces for diverse talent to stand out.

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