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Feature 032612 US Ambassador

Monday, March 26, 2012

U.S. Envoy Lauds Women in American Chamber of Commerce Talk

Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne


Thank you, Jose.  It has been an honor working with you the last six months as President of the American Chamber [of Commerce of Mexico].  To you and the incoming President Carlos Paz Sold an, and the Am Cham Board Members present, thank you for your service.  We at the United States Embassy know you have a full time job and appreciate the time and effort you put into the bilateral relationship.  Through the hard work of its membership and committees, the American Chamber has played a very important role in advancing bilateral trade, and I thank you for your dedication.

Last week, I had good discussions with the Secretary of Commerce and the leadership of the State Department as well as with the U.S. Chamber in Washington about the upcoming G-20, B-20 and AACCLA meetings in Mexico.  There is great excitement in Washington about making the most of these opportunities, working with you, to advance our economic and commercial agenda.  I look forward to developing our common approach with you.

But I would like to focus on another theme today.  President Obama has designated the month of March to be our national Women's History Month in the United States, commemorating the struggles and progress being made toward gender equality.  In keeping with that theme, I would like to take a moment to recognize and honor the work being done by one of the American Chamber's more recently created committees, the Diversity Task Force, which focuses on the importance of gender diversity in the workforce.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated, "The full participation of women is essential in order to raise the GDPs in every economy in the world, including our own; essential for achieving the peace and security objectives of American foreign policy; and we know that working with women and on their behalf can open doors for employment, healthcare, and education, which have ripple effects that lift entire communities and foster peace, prosperity, and stability."

The Obama Administration is accelerating efforts to advance and institutionalize women's participation in making and keeping peace, including the launch of a U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.  The United States is committed to making women and their advancement a cornerstone of our foreign policy, and through this initiative, our embassies are developing local strategies to expand political, economic, and social opportunities for women.

In a globalized economy, one of the keys to competitiveness lies in the diversity of the corporate leaders of our workforce.  Today, women constitute the majority of consumers and an increasingly large part of the professional labor pool.  Studies show that companies with more than three women on their board of directors consistently demonstrate a higher return on investment.  Yet, among Fortune 500 companies, women hold only 16% of board seats, and only 3% of those companies have women as CEO's.

This should not overshadow the fact that Mexico counts with a high number of remarkable females holding key leadership positions in major corporations, including CEO's, Vice Presidents, Board Members and General Directors.  Over the past year, these include such prominent U.S.-Mexican corporations such as American Express, Coca-Cola, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, MetLife, Manpower, Sempra Energy, Shell Mexico, Wal-Mart, Xerox, and many others.  In addition to their roles as corporate leaders, many of these women also contribute to the economic progress and prosperity of our communities, including service on the American Chamber's Board of Directors.

For example, prior to becoming President and Director General of General Electric Mexico, Gabriela Hernandez served important positions both in Mexico's Federal Consumer Protection Agency  as well as the Ministry of Communications and Technology, where she implemented strong public policies optimizing transparency and functionality of operations to better serve Mexican citizens.

As the Managing Director for Manpower Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, Monica Flores has deep knowledge of the human resource concerns shared by top corporations as well as small and medium sized businesses in the region.  She also serves as President of the Manpower Foundation, and the Mexican Association of Human Resources Companies.

Another important role model is Carmine Abad, CEO of MetLife Mexico, the largest insurance company in the country.  Among the many positions of leadership she has held during her  distinguished career with MetLife - spanning across Mexico, Spain and the United States - she has also served as an Officer for MetLife's Global Diversity Program, supporting gender diversity in the corporate culture.

Finally, I would like to recognize Sandra Sanchez y Olden age, who is currently the CEO for Amgen Mexico, after serving as one of only two women in Pfizer's Latin American operations running a revenue-generating commercial division.  Since 2006, she has consistently been recognized among CNN Expansion's list of the 50 most powerful female executives in Mexico.  In addition to serving on a number of executive boards, she also leads the AmCham's Diversity Task Force.

Under Sandra's leadership, the AmCham's Diversity Task Force has engaged in efforts to support gender equality and inclusion at the highest levels of management within top business organizations.  Through studies and research, this committee has helped define the current status of professional women's leadership within U.S.-Mexican organizations, and identified ways to support diversity and inclusion through best practices, including activities such as mentoring and networking.

Progress has been made, but much more needs to be done, both in the United States and Mexico.  Despite great strides in achieving gender equality in access to higher education and entry-level jobs, we have work to do to ensure diversity and inclusion throughout the workforce, which can only lead to greater prosperity.  Secretary Clinton has referred to this era as "the Participation Age," in which every individual has the ability to become a contributing and valued member of society, bringing stability and prosperity to their community through gainful and productive employment.

Last week in Washington, D.C., I had several meetings with Secretary Clinton's Ambassador for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer.  We then met separately with Ambassador Sarukhan to discuss specific steps we can take in the months ahead to build GOM partnerships with companies to promote this cause.  Ambassador Verveer especially mentioned her conversations with U.S. companies, including Walmart, Coca-Cola, and Exxon Mobil, about potential activities in Mexico.  We hope to develop these ideas in cooperation with you all as we move forward in the months ahead.

In the words of President Obama, "Ours is a legacy of bold independence and passionate belief in fairness and justice for all. For generations, this intrepid spirit has driven women pioneers to challenge injustices and shatter ceilings in pursuit of full and enduring equality.  During Women's History Month, we commemorate their struggles, celebrate centuries of progress, and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the rights, security, and dignity of women in America and around the world."  We look to you all as key partners in the ongoing efforts beyond this month to achieve new breakthroughs on these vital themes.

Thank you, Am Cham, for your leadership.  The U.S. Embassy looks forward to future collaboration with your membership on these and other important initiatives in our bilateral, regional, and multilateral agendas.


Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne, Embassy of the United States, Mexico City, Mar. 22, 2012

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