2004 Company of the year
General Mills, Inc. is enriched with more than seventy-five years of tradition, quality and commitment. Over the years the company has expanded into numerous markets, domestically and internationally, and today it is one of the largest consumer foods companies in the world.
General Mills is an enthusiastic recruiter in the Hispanic community. In addition, General Mills collaborates with organizations such as the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the Hispanic Alliance for College Enhancement (HACE) to establish internship programs for future Latina employees. Once hired, Latinas have the option of continuing their education with a full tuition reimbursement for job-related classes.
General Mills supports on-site childcare facilities and provides direct subsidies to employees for childcare costs. A lactation program, paid leave for childbirth or adoption, and premium individual and family healthcare coverage support the family life and cater to the needs of Hispanic women employees. A wide range of alternative work options, including telecommuting and a compressed workweek program, are available. Mentoring and leadership programs, five women’s task forces, and two Hispanic employee networks foster its Latina employees’ abilities and confidence to undertake any challenge.
Recently promoted to vice president of strategic growth channels for the Big G-Cereal Division, Natalia Franco contributes over 25 years of experience in business marketing. Her achievements and successful career set an admirable example for corporate America and within General Mills.
LATINA Style congratulates General Mills for establishing policies and programs for the advancement of professional Hispanic women.
Over the years – this is our seventh – something important has come to our attention. It seems that a number of companies, after reviewing the LATINA Style 50 application, elect to wait to submit a survey the following year, hoping to be better prepared to showcase their diversity efforts.
In response to this phenomenon, we have initiated a Best Diversity Practices program within the LATINA Style 50 awards conference. Through this program we are able to explain why the top 50 companies made it onto the list. We also provide a personalized evaluation for each company that submits a survey, including those who do not make the list.
Seven years of evaluation have given us a unique insight into what makes a company an ideal workplace for Hispanic women. It is a combination of many factors, not just a human resources issue; diversity must translate into all areas of a corporation. It has become clear that companies with successful integrated diversity programs have and are gaining a competitive advantage. As we track the stock performance of the 50 against the market, we find that they consistently outperform other corporations. No company is perfect, but the 50 are showing a determined commitment, and that is making a difference.
This year, some of our longtime winners have been replaced by new ones. Downsizing and mergers have taken their toll; other companies had to face issues that made it impossible for us to fairly evaluate their performance. We hope that these issues will be resolved by next year and that these companies will strongly resurface.
Though the process is slow, things do continue to improve from year to year. In 2003 there were 137,131 Latinas working at the 50 top companies, out of a total workforce of 2,766,161 (4.96 percent); in 2004 there are 166,334 out of 2,969,118 (5.60 percent). In 2003 there were 1,133 Latina vice presidents and 138 senior executives; this year there are 1,997 vice presidents and 226 senior executives. In addition, three companies – all in the top 50 this year – have added a Latina to their boards of directors: Ford Motor Company added Kimberly Casiano, Pacificare added Aida Alvarez, and Southern California Edison added France Cordova. Slowly but steadily Hispanic women are making their way into the executive arena. Companies are beginning to realize the positive influence of bringing Latinas on board.
We salute the 2004 LATINA Style 50 companies for their vision and leadership. And for those companies that are in the wings waiting for their turn, we hope they continue to develop their diversity initiatives so that they can join the 50 in 2005.