Conexion Latina

Call them what you will---employee resource groups, employee networks, business resource groups, or affinity networks---these employee-organized groups have become more prevalent in corporations over the last three decades. Initially formed to be a support or social network for employees, today they have evolved in to much more. They have become an effective resource when advancing marketplace, workplace, and community outreach strategies in a business.

At GlaxoSmithKline, we have a common vision, mission, and business strategy that our people bring to life every day to drive the bottom line success of our company. Our shared values, i.e., respect for people, patient focused, transparency and integrity, reinforce the reality that our business is all about people. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) play an integral role in achieving our strategic priorities. The GSK Global Inclusion & Diversity Strategy aligns with the GSK strategic priorities in the areas of talent management, individual empowerment & inclusion, and building trust & reputation. Our message about ERGs is tied directly into these three strategic priorities.

I want to share a perspective from the lens of Conexión Latina, the Latino/a Employee Resource Group at GlaxoSmithKline. This group has historically served to contribute to the survival of Latino/a employees, giving them a sense of belonging and connectedness. As this ERG (and others in the company) evolved, they have become more inclusive in their membership, opening themselves up to all employees with an interest in the particular constituency group. In the case of Conexion Latina, the group attracts a diversity of members making the experience more inclusive and enriching.

Another significant change is the strategic focus on business alignment. This creates a relationship between Conexion Latina and GSK that provides mutual benefit for employees and the company. It can serve as a barometer when businesses assess the level of employee engagement and GSK’s progress in creating a more inclusive culture. The group can also serve as a catalyst for multicultural and Latino business development with Latino patients, customers and suppliers in existing markets, and emerging markets. This can enhance GSK’s reputation and image in Latino communities where we live and work, thus enabling the company to attract, retain, develop and utilize the very best Latino/a talent.

When thinking about the workplace, Conexión Latina plays a key role in supporting opportunities for professional growth and leadership development of its members. ERG leaders are provided leadership opportunities internally and externally, growing and developing their full potential as future Latino and Latina leaders. The ERG fosters a more open, welcoming and inclusive community for Latinos/as as well as other diverse constituencies. It facilitates learning and awareness between Conexion Latina and company leaders, enhancing their global leadership skills and increasing their cultural competency.

Ultimately, the goal for Conexion Latina is to create a vibrant community that fosters a strong understanding of Latino culture and develops talent to impact the Latino community and contribute to GSK’s success. Not all learning, development, and leadership opportunities arise from the workplace. Some of these opportunities are provided by serving the community and bring value back to the company. These community roles also create a face for GSK building our brand, reputation, and trust with a key constituency. Done right, everyone benefits – getting it right is important. By creating learning opportunities, leveraging business alignment opportunities, and finding creative ways to increase awareness and understanding of Latino cultures, Conextion Latina will be successful.

Tomás Leal is the Director of Inclusion and Diversity in the Equality and Inclusion Center of Excellence at GlaxoSmithKline.