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Reflections on Racial Justice: Part VII – ADDITIVE

I first met David Gonzales in the SMU Cox Business School dean’s office about ten years ago when he brought the dean of SMU’s Meadows School of Fine Arts in to talk about an opportunity to develop an executive leadership program for Latino managers in Fortune 1000 companies.  David has a long and distinguished corporate career in the high-level global supply chain, diversity, and inclusion, business strategy, and operations.  He’s held positions at Eastman Kodak, ExxonMobil, FritoLay, PepsiCo, and he currently is the global head of diversity and inclusion for Bristol Myers Squibb.

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Reflections on Racial Justice: Part VI – Agency

The deans agreed that the leadership development project should be a business school opportunity, and it fell in my area.  The first thing I did was hire David, who was between jobs, and we worked together to found a corporate-sponsored center of excellence in Latino Leadership at SMU.  After the center was launched, David moved on, but we remained good friends.  What we started remains in place at SMU.

David is Mexican American, a native of Dallas.  His family history from the fifteenth century on is one of migration and immigration.  I learned a lot from David about an immigrant’s mentality—risk-taking, entrepreneurship, commitment to education—and Latino culture.  One of the most important cultural insights I gained from David is “additive.”

SMU’s Latino center research showed that Latinos advance to mid-level corporate positions faster than others, but then they get stuck there.  One reason is that certain characteristics of Latino culture look to others as well-suited to mid-level jobs but not to executive positions.  For example, a Latino may turn down an opportunity due to the importance of family.  This looks like a lack of ambition.  Many Latinos prefer to let the quality of their work speak for itself rather than engage in self-promotion.  This can appear to be a lack of assertiveness.  And when a Latino gives up a seat in a meeting to another or serves everyone when coffee needs refreshing, such consideration for others can be seen as overly deferential.

In our program, Latino participants became aware of how such behaviors can be misinterpreted.  They were taught to use their culture intentionally rather than intuitively.  They were coached to speak up for the unique value that they brought to their businesses as Latinos.  Then they were able to articulate distinctive contributions to customers, products, revenue, cost, quality, and efficiency.  As a result, their “additive” contributions were rewarded with promotions and significant developmental assignments.

Being additive is not zero-sum.  It unearths new perspectives to help solve problems and generate innovations that benefit the business.

It makes it easier for others to recognize the unique business value that Latinos bring.  Demonstrating unique business value enables Latinos to obtain sponsors and gain access to the organizational power structures that result in new and higher-level opportunities.

It is wise for anyone in an organization to try to differentiate by their contributions to the mission.  However, when people differentiate based on the intentional use of their culture, especially when their words and actions can be misinterpreted according to stereotypes, they can be included without sacrificing their cultural authenticity.

Resources:  I recently interviewed David Gonzales during a session of Highland Park United Methodist Church’s Affirmation class.  You can hear about his family background and his Additive concept here:

 Affirmations Conversations with David Gonzales.mp4

Frank Lloyd
Frank Lloyd
Dr. Frank Lloyd is the former Associate Dean of Executive Education at Southern Methodist University's (SMU) Edwin L. Cox School of Business, where he led development and delivery of award-winning executive leadership programs that transformed careers and organizations. He was the driving force in the creation of a national center of excellence on Latino leadership, and he was instrumental in the launch of the James M. Collins Executive Education Center. Dr. Lloyd joined SMU’s Cox School from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, where he was Vice President of Executive Education. Prior to joining Thunderbird, Dr. Lloyd was a human resources executive with General Motors. Among the highlights of his career, he was responsible for organization development and leadership training for GM Europe during its transition from mass to lean production, and he was the first GM Human Resources manager at New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), the historic joint venture between GM and Toyota noted for its innovative labor-management relations and the introduction of the Toyota production system. Dr. Lloyd is an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of UNICON, the Global Consortium for University-based Executive Education. He served on the national board of Inroads, an organization with the mission to develop and place talented underserved youth in business and industry and prepare them for corporate and community leadership. He is the former board chair of Daystar US which mobilizes resources to support Daystar, a non-denominational Christian university in Nairobi, Kenya whose mission is to prepare servant leaders for Africa. He currently is a board member for Literacy Achieves, a Dallas, Texas-based non-profit that teaches English as a second language to adult immigrants to facilitate their employment, parenting, and other life skills. Dr. Lloyd was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Isfahan in Iran. He also served as a U.S. Information Agency curriculum consultant for Germany. He earned a master’s degree at Purdue University and a Ph. D. at the University of Iowa. His undergraduate degree is from Occidental College.

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