Guest post by Varsovia Fernandez, President & CEO, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC) Professional Mentoring Network (PMN) recently hosted our fifth annual Dr. José E. Lebron Scholarship Fund reception at the Comcast Center. We were joined by Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President, David L. Cohen, and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Maria G. Arias, along with representatives from Customers Bank, to present Edison High School senior Veronica Duran with a two-year scholarship to attend the Community College of Philadelphia.
GPHCC developed PMN in 2007 to address the slow pace of growth in Hispanics at management and leadership levels in the workforce, as well as the alarming high school drop-out rates of Hispanics in Philadelphia. The program provides an opportunity for Hispanic professionals and students to connect with corporate executives willing to share their knowledge and career success stories. It also offers a unique opportunity for professionals to volunteer their time to informally mentor Latino youth, serving as positive role models.
Comcast has been an integral partner to PMN since it launched nine years ago. In 2010, the company provided the kick-start funding for the inaugural Dr. José E. Lebron Scholarship award. Over the years, we have partnered with Comcast to offer opportunities for young Hispanic professionals and high school students to connect with corporate executives through networking events, job shadowing days and more. Support like this has made the program a true success. To date, we have mentored over 100 young professionals, engaged more than 20 corporate executives as mentors, provided five students with college scholarships, and raised nearly $70,000 for the scholarship endowment.
But what makes Comcast a true partner to the Chamber and PMN is not just its financial support or the involvement of its executives. Comcast shows a deep commitment to diversity in its hiring and retention practices—as an industry leader and as a cornerstone company in Philadelphia. According to a recent report, Comcast’s overall workforce is 59 percent diverse and, during 2014, 69 percent of the company’s new hires were diverse. Perhaps more impressive, the company goes beyond just a commitment to diverse hiring—it also focuses on promotion and retention of diverse employees by supporting employee resource groups, including UNIDOS@Comcast, and offering various mentorship and leadership programs, among other initiatives.
We are proud that the legacy of Comcast Founder Ralph Roberts lives on through programs like PMN, which help to build tomorrow’s leaders. It is clear that Ralph’s commitment to community, his integrity and his entrepreneurial spirit have had an impact on many, especially Maria Arias, whose remarks last week were encouraging to everyone in the audience, especially our scholarship recipient. She said, “You have a world of opportunity at your fingertips.”
Thanks in part to companies like Comcast—with such a strong commitment to our city and its diverse talent—that has never been truer.