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Diversity and the Latinofication of corporate America

An interview with Alma Guajardo-Crossley

Chevrolet at Hispanicize

Photo: Alex Gort

Recently at the Hispanicize 2012 event, we caught up with Alma Guajardo-Crossley, The Director of Diversity Initiatives at GM. A Corporate Visionary; an honor recently awarded by the US Hispanic Leadership Institute, in recognition of her 27 year career and service to the community – we got a chance to talk about her inspiring story, and her time spent assisting in the recruitment and placement of Latinos at GM.

To Alma, being a Latina means:

“My mother and father, it’s heritage and hard work, passion, fun, love, family, religion, sense of pride in who I am, I feel like I can connect with other Latinos, because they understand the values instilled upon us growing up. When I meet another Latino, I feel like they’re family because they understand who I am and how I behave. That’s being Latino, you’re passionate and affectionate, you connect with people, it’s a beautiful thing, and nothing to be ashamed about. You can be proud of who you are, it exudes around a big crowd of people, and it feels good.”

Her Mexican-American familia – originally from Texas – moved to Michigan for better job opportunities, where she was then born. It’s her family’s support and love she credits to her achievements and the importance of education and work ethic they instilled upon her. Her father told her: “Mija, necesitas ir a escuela, coges tu educacion, no necesitas trabajar asi como yo, muy duro,” sacrificing his education to work three jobs, and almost losing his life after a large metal plate fell on top of him at a foundry. Her mother supported them through those traumatic times, and on into their higher education.

Her brother first attended the GM Institute, later encouraging her to; beginning there Alma’s career flourished within a company that has for decades provided numerous opportunities for minority entrepreneurs as the first motor company to start a Minority Suppliers Dept in 1968 and a Minority Dealership Program in 1972.

Starting in sales and marketing, eventually she became Director of Dealer Development for Minority Dealers. Using her connection and understanding of the people, to create consumer standards, asking important questions such as: “How can I market to the Latino consumer? How is that culture different from what you see [in other cities]? How is the customer treated when they walk into that showroom? Is there enough bilingual talent? How are you reaching the Latin community? Do we need different type of creative?”

Assisting the community on both sides of consumers and workers, Alma has used her position to act as a “Servant Leader” by creating jobs, scholarship funds, and donating to charities.

“I think at the end of the day, the more people you help, it eventually comes back to you in more ways than one. Whether it’s talking positively about you or the company you represent, or even if you’ve touched them to be able to give to other people, it triples itself. I like to help, but am [mindful that] as you succeed in life and prosper, not only do you pay it forward, but you also support those people who’ve helped you in the past. Ultimately, I feel so good about being able to help the community, being able to support the community, and helping young kids to achieve their dreams, whether it’s motivating them, providing scholarships, or telling them how to interview in corporate America when you’re looking for that opportunity, it touches my heart being able to help them.”

The soul of a company is driven by its workers, and in a company that has such longstanding American roots, it makes perfect sense, that at the heart of General Motors, Alma Guajardo-Crossley is a shining example that with hard work and dedication, and by paying it forward, one person can truly make a difference.

About Robert Rios III

As a Singer-Songwriter, this NuYoRican Bronx Native has completed several independently released EP's, including "The Real R&B", "The Awakening", "The B-Side" and the upcoming "RR-Evolution", featuring the popular single and video shot in 2011 "Why?" - Performing steadily throughout the NYC Club circuit and well known within the Latino Arts Community. Trained as a Classical Vocalist care of the "Fame" school - LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, he's well versed in the styles of Classical, Jazz, Contemporary, Latin and R&B/Soul music, acting, and digital media. He will be featured in Being Latino's upcoming stream of video content, and also in the film Sojourner's Lament.
Building up a vast network within the entertainment industry, he has hosted, performed in, and produced various forms of live shows involving music, poetry, dance, and comedy. His focus has always been on the creation and promotion of quality English Language Entertainment, for and by Latinos.
Since taking on the role of Events Director, Robert has coordinated various contributor brunches and networking events, having partnered with such high profile clientele as Heineken and Hennessy. He was also featured as a guest speaker for a panel on Latinos in Modern Media at the 2011 All Roads Film Festival, presented by National Geographic.
You can find out more about Robert's music and upcoming shows by logging on to www.ReverbNation.com/RobRiosMusic"

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. Robert Rios III says:

    Thank you Jose for your opinion, you are correct, her answer is based exclusively on her own experience, feel free to post what Being Latino means to you.

  2. Robert Rios III says:

    Who’s to say that those that are hired aren’t deserving of the jobs and promotions? You don’t know the individual’s character, experience, merits or how hard they worked. The point I believe it to teach those who may think that they are not “Corporate Material” that with a little preparation, confidence and a chance, they too can ascend to that level. It goes beyond Latino hiring quotas, GM has made it a point to reach out to Latinos and other minorities on their level, by having people that can speak their language, both metaphorically and linguistically. They also provide a number of scholarships and donate to many wonderful causes, not to discriminate against non-minorities, but to give people a chance that they may not have otherwise had because of a lack of understanding and opportunity.

  3. Well, her response “My mother and father, it’s heritage and hard work, passion, fun, love, family, religion, sense of pride in who I am, I feel like I can connect with other Latinos, because they understand the values instilled upon us growing up. When I meet another Latino, I feel like they’re family because they understand who I am and how I behave. That’s being Latino, you’re passionate and affectionate, you connect with people, it’s a beautiful thing, and nothing to be ashamed about. You can be proud of who you are, it exudes around a big crowd of people, and it feels good.” already sounds somewhat exclusive. I am Latino and I do not have close bonds to religion and I do not have a “typical” family, and I certainly do not hope, nor expect any Latino I meet or meet me enters our relationship with these assumptions; they don’t apply to ALL Latinos.

    But good for her. Congratulations.

  4. It’s not right and organic to reward and hire and promote those of a certain group just because there are not too many of that group in whatever institution. The jobs and the promotions should go to those of good character, experience, merits, hard work. In the end the supposedly altruistic quotas and forced diversity initiatives end up creating a whole other set of inequalities and discriminations.

  5. @Jose Thank you for your opinion, you are correct, her answer is based exclusively on her own experience, feel free to post what Being Latino means to you.

  6. @Mario Who’s to say that those that are hired aren’t deserving of the jobs and promotions? You don’t know the individual’s character, experience, merits or how hard they worked. The point I believe is to teach those who may think that they are not “Corporate Material” that with a little preparation, confidence and a chance, they too can ascend to that level. It goes beyond Latino hiring quotas, GM has made it a point to reach out to Latinos and other minorities on their level, by having people that can speak their language, both metaphorically and linguistically. They also provide a number of scholarships and donate to many wonderful causes, not to discriminate against non-minorities, but to give people a chance that they may not have otherwise had because of a lack of understanding and opportunity.

  7. 1972

  8. “My mother and father, it’s heritage and hard work, passion, fun, love, family, religion, sense of pride in who I am, I feel like I can connect with other Latinos, because they understand the values instilled upon us growing up. When I meet another Latino, I feel like they’re family because they understand who I am and how I behave. That’s being Latino, you’re passionate and affectionate, you connect with people, it’s a beautiful thing, and nothing to be ashamed about. You can be proud of who you are, it exudes around a big crowd of people, and it feels good.”……I agree totally ….

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