As I reflect on the country’s commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m proud to work for a company that not only recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans in September and October, but every day. At AT&T, diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords, they’re integral to our company’s culture and a driving force behind our innovation.
To be our best, we must have a workforce that reflects the customers and communities we serve, as well as products and services that meet a variety of needs. We call it “A Ti Y A Ti,” which translates to “AT&T has something for you and you,” whether you’re an employee, a customer or part of the communities we serve.
At AT&T, diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzz words, they’re integral to our company’s culture and a driving force behind our innovation.
AT&T’s employees are our company’s greatest resource, and we make it a priority to attract, retain and develop talented people from a wide range of backgrounds. In fact, 15% of our total U.S. workforce is Hispanic — higher than the industry average.
We’re also investing in our future workforce. Every year, AT&T, the AT&T Foundation and our employees contribute millions of dollars and tens of thousands volunteer hours to Latinx student success. These efforts are targeted at programs and activities aimed at increasing graduation rates and preparing Latinx students for careers in technology. We partner with the top Latinx advocacy organizations in the nation, including National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), UnidosUS, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, MANA: A Latina Organization, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, and Hispanic Heritage Foundation. We support their mission to advocate for the Latinx community.
As the lead sponsor of GradNation, we have helped the nationwide high school graduation rate for Hispanic students reach 80% for the first time in U.S. history, up from 71% in 2011. While the numbers are up, we know we can do better. Along with GradNation, we continue our commitment to the goal of increasing U.S. graduation rates across the board to at least 90%.
Here in Arizona, we’ve supported organizations like Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG), that are successfully working to turn around the state’s low graduation rates. JAG's mission is to help young people stay in school and to acquire the academic, personal, leadership and vocations skills they will need to be successful upon graduation. On average, 96% of Hispanic seniors in JAG's traditional programs graduate on-time.
It’s also important that once students graduate, they have the skills it takes to compete in a workforce that is increasingly technology-focused. That’s why STEM education is one of AT&T’s priorities.
As we work to help prepare today’s students for the jobs of the future, we’re also helping to strengthen existing businesses, including Hispanic-owned businesses, which are growing at double the rate of all businesses in the U.S.
One example is our diverse supplier program, which benefits businesses both big and small. AT&T first launched the program more than 50 years ago. Today it's larger than ever. In 2018, AT&T’s total spend with diverse suppliers was $15.1 billion, representing 26.8% of our total supplier spend. And, our Hispanic Supplier spend totaled $3 billion last year.
We are also constantly investing in our networks and services to ensure we provide a first-rate experience to all of our customers. AT&T has led the way when it comes to serving our customers in the language they prefer. For over 30 years, we’ve operated a national Spanish speaking call center, serving the needs of our customers from across the country. We also have bilingual employee representatives at more than 750 of our retail stores nationwide.
We offer 95 channels between our U-verse and DIRECTV platforms that serve Hispanic audiences and Spanish-speaking audiences. Additionally, we offer networks and on-demand content from popular Latino programmers such as Nat Geo Mundo, Cine Estelar and El Rey.
AT&T is also working to create a more diverse entertainment landscape where Hispanic and Latinx storytellers are able to tell their stories. This includes hosting film competitions, scholarships and mentoring for film students through initiatives like our AT&T Hello Lab Filmmaker Mentorship Program. This initiative kicked off in 2017 and is designed to help filmmakers from underrepresented communities work on their craft.
Since diversity and inclusion is an AT&T priority, we’re proud that our efforts are being recognized. This year, DiversityInc named us No. 1 on their annual list of “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” and Latina Style named us No. 2 on its “Top 50 Company” list. We’ve also been recognized by Hispanic Network Magazine, Latino Magazine and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, among others.
These awards are nice, but it’s the work that leads to them that we are focused on. As a company, we know there is always more we can do. We remain committed more than ever to being a leader in diversity and inclusion, as well as supporting and connecting our Hispanic and Latinx communities.
Toni M. Broberg
President – AT&T Arizona