Connor said more than 100 companies and their CEOs have committed to following specific guidelines set by the Commission to improve diversity in their leaders, board of trustees, employees, and suppliers. “Minority business owners hire minorities in greater numbers and that is a good thing,” he said. Connor cautioned that the commitment of CEOs is not enough—success will require effort and grassroot organizations like the Hispanic Roundtable.
The Commission was established 8 years ago and Connor said it was met with skeptics and while it has achieved numerous milestones much work still needs to be done. “It’s a process that never ends and never should end. I want you to know this is not something we will check off our list and move on to our daily routines,” Connor said.
He also highlighted Team NEO’s commitment to make Cleveland and its surrounding 16 counties a destination of choice for business and investors.
Sherwin Williams is a global enterprise with strong presence in Central America. Connor praised the company’s International President, Alex Zalesky, for making strong relationships possible and acknowledged Zalesky’s Bolivian ancestry, understanding of the culture and fluency in Spanish were crucial to the company’s success.
Connor said Latinos have an astute work ethic, wonderful family values, and a profound emphasis on education—all qualities that make them the model citizens and the largest immigrant group that employers are seeking out. “I hope my government will adopt an open and sane immigration policy—you are exactly the kind of people we want here,” he said.
José Feliciano, Chairman of the Hispanic Roundtable, encouraged guests to network and build relationships. He said as the Latino population grows the community needs to be more vocal and accessible.
“Hispanics control more than $292 billion in buying power … we will play a crucial role in this election, and in the future no candidate will be able to ignore us,” Feliciano said.
The Roundtable has hosted many distinguished speakers such as Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and Eaton Corporation CEO Sandy Cutler. “We were lucky and honored to have them speak,” he said.