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Diverse workforces are happier, more productive and more innovative, and they are better able to make products and services that connect with their growing diverse customer base.

Diversity, Inclusion Spurs Innovation

By: Debbie Storey, SVP - Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer

It’s only by harnessing the unique backgrounds and passions of our workforce that AT&T can succeed in this increasingly competitive, increasingly global marketplace.

Debbie Storey SVP - Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer

Crystal Ramirez worked as a manager in one of our Texas retail stores for several years. She felt like she had not reached her full potential. She often dreamed of doing more by helping and training others on the job.

But Crystal didn't know where to start. Did she need to go to a different company? Did she need to go back to college?

Then she heard about our 11 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), where employees focus on personal and professional development, learn about different parts of the company and volunteer in the community. She was part of a surge of employees who signed up as an ERG member in the last year.

Membership in our ERGs is taking off. We began 2012 with less than 16,000 members and ended the year with more than 44,000, our largest ever.

Crystal said because of oxyGEN, an ERG devoted to developing and retaining AT&T's young professionals, she learned about different parts of the business. She connected with someone in our learning services arm of the company, and she is now a training manager.

Success in today's market does not come merely through recognition of diversity. Rather, full inclusion is essential. When a company is inclusive of all backgrounds, races, genders, ages, disabilities and sexual orientations, it gets variety. A variety of opinions. A variety of ideas. And a variety of knowledge. The more ideas and knowledge we have, the better solutions we have for our challenges.

And in Crystal's case, she is now more engaged and excited about her job than ever. She and the company both benefit from this relationship.

It's only by harnessing the unique backgrounds and passions of our workforce that AT&T can succeed in this increasingly competitive, increasingly global marketplace. That's our goal in Talent Development and Diversity: to promote diversity, inclusiveness and opportunities for employees to flourish. Providing employees an environment where they can thrive is a personal passion of mine. When I took this role two years ago, I knew I had an opportunity to take that passion to the next level.

What energizes me the most is seeing how Talent Development and the Chief Diversity Office foster innovation companywide. Every individual brings unique value to the job every day. When we incorporate the experiences and ideas of a diverse group when problem solving or brainstorming, our ability to innovate grows exponentially.

In 40 years, all ethnic multicultural groups will make up the majority of the population, according to the 2010 United States Census. Youth populations show a similar trend. The Hispanic population makes up almost 25 percent of youth today. By 2020, the majority of youth will be multicultural.

At AT&T, we count on this diversity and inclusion so we can react to the market quickly and provide the best possible solutions to today's challenges and customer demands. Our embrace of diversity is the reason why we have a history of being one of the most innovative companies, ever.