HBJ's 2022 Diversity ChampionHouston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce • Jun 27, 2022
Meet 4 of HBJ's 2022 Diversity Champions: Alvin Mena Contero, Eric Munoz, Laura Murillo, James Nortey
HBJ's Outstanding Diversity Champions recognizes individuals within the community or for-profit and nonprofit organizations who have shown outstanding initiative to promote diversity and inclusion either in the organization or community, making a positive difference in others’ lives through contributions to social justice, equality and diversity.
Click through the slideshow above to see all of HBJ's 2022 Diversity in Business Awards honorees.
Alvin Mena Cantero
CEO, Alvin Clinica Familiar Inc.
Why is diversity important and how does it impact your clients or business? Diversity will lead businesses to implement strong leadership-advocacy skills for future health care providers. They will be more compromised to use and implement skills and strategies into a more diverse population, rural areas with PCP shortage, homeless and veterans shelters within underserved communities but engage federal institutions to support projects and budgets aimed at improving disease prevention and health care promotion. Another impact will be developing a group of community leaders to educate the population and target risk groups more vulnerable to coronavirus, while at the same time targeting families with risk of domestic violence, suicide and depressive and anxiety disorders. From my own perspective, diversity means inclusion and inspiration.
What advice would you give to boost and sustain diversity in your organization? The main advice will be to create an inclusive environment but consider different opinions, suggestions, and cultural backgrounds from our staff, population and community. Our organization was founded based on respect and equal opportunities guided by strong leadership and empathy. These elements along with discipline, ethics and professionalism made us to complete a total of 6,846 of urgent care service, 9,647 volunteer hours within veteran and homeless shelters, 16.636 hours services for community activities, and a total of 22.724 patients evaluated with 100% of satisfaction as per more than 450 Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews from Alvin Clinica Familiar.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of including diversity in your business? The most rewarding and challenging aspects of including diversity is to incorporate and promote diversity through community leaders whom others may identify themselves within underserved communities. Language barriers, transculturation processes and lack of health care and sanitary education within our community was another challenge to overcome as well.
What accomplishments in the field of diversity and inclusion are you most proud of? Thanks to our diverse environment, Dr. Cantero obtained Florence Nightingale Medal (Outstanding Student at Sacred Heart University - 2012), and he was selected as a finalist at the nationwide Lead Award (2018) as Top Leader Under 35 Years Old. He was also a finalist for Rising Star Award-Health Care Heroes (HBJ - 2018), Silver Medalist in Excellence Award (Good Samaritan - 2019), America’s Top NP Award (POCN - 2019) and Community Impact Award (Texas Nurse Practitioners - 2020), Two Grand Prize Honors for Best Customer Service Leadership Training and Best First Time Manager Program at the nationwide Lead Award (2021) and recently Honoree as Head of Diversity in Business Award (HBJ - 2021), Gold Medalist in Excellence Award (Good Samaritan - 2021), Outstanding Alumni Award (Walden University - 2021), Nurse Practitioner State Award of Excellence (AANP - 2022) and Inno Fire Award (HBJ - 2022)
What kind of world do you hope future generations will see when they grow up? I do really believe that once creating and founded a more diverse and multicultural environment, our community will develop more conscious and skillful in regards health care promotion and disease prevention, but teach our upcoming generation the value of diversity and empathy as a whole team.
Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Why is diversity important and how does it impact your clients or business? I believe that diverse viewpoints and ideas lead to better outcomes. We all have our own set of experiences, education, upbringing and understanding that we bring to whatever it is we are doing. Sometimes we can lock in on certain aspects without appreciating other perspectives and miss out on important elements, leave problems unsolved or even create new problems. By encouraging input from folks with diverse viewpoints and experiences, I think we decrease the likelihood that we miss out on something and increase the chances of a better result.
What advice would you give to boost and sustain diversity in your organization? The legal field is still struggling with diversity. As a firm we have to continue to focus on finding talent from diverse communities to provide encouragement for those that are coming up through law school or thinking about going to law school. And once we find the talent, we need to encourage and foster it, while understanding that different people and different communities may approach situations differently and relate in different ways. The clients we serve are also looking ways to increase diversity and increase their talent pools, which will also mean different ways they may be approaching issues and, importantly in how they may be looking to connect, and we need to be able to make those connections to help us better serve our clients.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of including diversity in your business? Time and focus are probably the most challenging. In a world that seems to move faster by the minute, it can be difficult to invest time in finding and fostering talent. We also are facing a more dynamic world, where our clients have to be nimble to address different challenges and exploit opportunities, which can make it difficult to focus on cultivating diverse talent.
However, investing the time in, and focusing on, building a better, more diverse team will help us better connect with our clients and provide better solutions. Ultimately, helping everyone reach their potential is better for everyone.
What accomplishments in the field of diversity and inclusion are you most proud of? We have done a lot in our office and in our firm to encourage and foster diversity, including mentoring, education and recruiting, but for me the most encouraging moments have been increasing awareness and generating conversation about events and circumstances that people don’t always have an appreciation for and which often leads to a greater appreciation of different cultures and experiences.
What kind of world do you hope future generations will see when they grow up? I am hopeful that future generations appreciate all the best in each other and find ways to bring that out in each other. I think we all benefit when everyone is able to realize their full potential and contribute.
President and CEO, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Why is diversity important and how does it impact your clients or business? Diversity is important because it allows corporations to thrive and excel. It also allows them to be inclusive in a way that is beneficial and that impacts their bottom line. Nationally, Hispanics represent $1.7 trillion in annual purchasing power and are the most rapidly-growing subset of the economy. That is up from $21 billion in 1990, and just over $1 trillion in 2010. Specifically, as I wrote my book “Lead in Life: Succeed in the New Era of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” I decided to focus on this topic because I want to provide a roadmap for corporations to understand how to best initiate diversity, equity, and inclusion plans. Additionally, I want to assist corporations to thrive and embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in a way that is impactful not only to the bottom line, but also to showcase talents and opportunities for improvement as it relates to their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
What advice would you give to boost and sustain diversity in your organization? The advice that I would give to boost and sustain diversity within an organization is to take an assessment of where the organization is and where it wants to be. How does your organization get there? By making sure that you have a roadmap that is clearly geared toward continued diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that embraces a variety of individuals who are currently in your organization or who should be part of your organization. Additionally, the roadmap should include a true insight on the organization’s numbers, targeted expectations with board of directors, staff, and having an assessment of who is not in the conversation and who is not at the table. Nationally, Hispanics comprise just 2.5% of the more than 5,500 board members of Fortune 500 firms.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of including diversity in your business? In my opinion, the most challenging aspects are stereotypes, perceptions and well-intended individuals who may not realize that some of their attempts to broaden their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are in fact and could be mistaken for patronizing and, or superficial window dressing. In order for DEI to be authentic and impactful it must originate from the top level of leadership. For example, utilizing your employee resource groups in a way that is inclusive so that you’re not preaching to the choir but in fact speaking to those that are empowered to make a difference, and guiding people to understand what your philosophy and what your internal messaging should be. These are all opportunities to influence diversity in your businesses.
What accomplishments in the field of diversity and inclusion are you most proud of? In 2021, I wrote “Lead in Life: Succeed in the New Era of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” which has become a number one international best seller in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. To me, the book is a culmination of my life’s work and a tribute to diversity champions. Nationally, 95% of all published authors are white. Less than 2% of nationally published authors are Hispanic. Thus, I am humbled and grateful to everyone who is responsible for making my book a number one international best seller in fifteen categories including: business planning and forecasting, strategic management, total quality management, production and operation management, educational leadership, professional project management among other.
Associate, Morgan Lewis
Why is diversity important and how does it impact your clients or business? Diversity is both a moral imperative and a financial necessity. The legal and business needs of our clients require innovative and critical thinking. The best solutions and results are often a derivative of a collaboration of multiple perspectives and experiences. For this reason, clients are increasingly prioritizing law firms that can staff matters with advocates that reflect the communities where we do business.
What advice would you give to boost and sustain diversity in your organization? At the core of sustaining diversity is the occupational and psychological safety to work as one’s authentic self without conforming to preconceived notions of identity. All members of an organization, but especially leadership, should regularly showcase vulnerability and willingness to grow one’s understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this way, others will come to understand that leaning into differences is welcomed, accepted, and celebrated as a part of organizational culture.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of including diversity in your business?I am especially proud each time a colleague of color is elevated to partner given that the partnership ranks of most law firms are still overwhelmingly nondiverse. The practice of law is challenging in of itself, but there are greater disparities for associates of color. Although there are still not enough diverse associates working in big law, I am resolved to ensuring more attorneys of color are recruited, retained, and promoted.
What accomplishments in the field of diversity and inclusion are you most proud of? In 2020, Morgan Lewis Bockius, LLP formed Mobilizing for Equality (MFE) a task force focused on producing long-term, systemic solutions for racial equality. It became a perfect platform for me to put my legal skills, social awareness, and innate leadership abilities to work. Now serving as a co-leader of the MFE Community Engagement and Volunteerism (CEV) working group, I advance the group’s mission to partner with community-based racial justice organizations, grassroots groups, and nonprofit organizations in local communities with the goal of understanding the intricacies of the issues at hand and supporting community-based solutions through volunteerism efforts.
What kind of world do you hope future generations will see when they grow up? I aspire for a world where differences are not considered “unknown,” “foreign,” or “immoral,” but rather are expected and celebrated. In the 20th century, it was perceived to be normal to enter a room where most others would share similar racial, ethnic, or cultural ties as one’s own. However, in the 21st century, a kaleidoscope of diversity and differences are the new normal.
These profiles have been edited for length and clarity.
As published by the Houston Business Journal https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2022/06/23/diversity-2022-mena-munoz-murillo-nortey.html