Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Charles Herington, Molson Coors Beverage Company Board of Directors member.
Q: What does being Latino mean to you?
A: I feel enormously fortunate.
My life has always been a multicultural mix, with my deepest roots connected to Mexico. My dad is English and did not speak Spanish until I was 5 or 6 years old. And right from the beginning, I was always exposed to a multicultural upbringing with my deepest roots in Mexico where I grew up, went to school and all my immediate family still lives.
I consider myself fortunate for many reasons, but let me explain two: One, I can listen in ways that not a lot of people can. And two, I am thankful and appreciate what a wonderful place we live in. (I’m an immigrant.)
I grew up in a beautiful place with amazing people. However, even with all its wonderful parts, there is another side with important challenges that make everyday life complex, requiring major effort to achieve even the most basic stuff. I'm not suggesting that the place where we now live is perfect. But I’m thankful everyday for the liberties, justice and order (in the U.S.), and the opportunity to pursue each dream.
Q: Are you involved with Latino initiatives at Molson Coors or within your community? If so, how?
A: Starting in 1990, my career took a turn to oversee all or parts of Latin American businesses based in the US. In this capacity, I was in constant need for talent. Language skills and cultural understanding were key success factors. That started my journey of identifying talent (many of whom were Latinos) with Pepsico Restaurants Latin America, Revlon Latin America, AOL Latin America, Avon Latin America, and now Zumba Global, which is bringing Latin music and dance to 180 countries around the world.
Several years ago, I partnered with Molson Coors, but my hope is to get more involved and help HOLA/CHEN in any way I can.
Separately, over time I have partnered with a private equity group called Palladium Equity Partners, which specializes in investing in Latin businesses throughout the U.S. and Latin America. We have partnered in four businesses, three of which have Latin consumers and management teams: Pronto Insurance, HyCite, and Quirch Foods.
Q: Do you have any tips for fostering an inclusive environment where everyone is valued and can bring their whole selves to work?
A: This is a great time, since now, more than ever, corporate America is receptive to different points of view, and increasingly values views of current issues and challenges coming from different backgrounds and experiences.
My advice is to immerse yourselves in the relevant topics that your business units or functions are facing. Understand and study in depth all of the potential factors. Then speak up, articulate respectfully your views, but LISTEN as well. It is more likely the ideal path forward will be a combination built from many different perspectives and ideas.
Truly listening with empathy is such a basic step we can take to avoid conflict and/or misunderstandings. Growing up in Mexico, with 50 first cousins, most of whom I saw every week, anchored my family values, doing the right thing, and loving true Mexican food! But there was always an “Anglo” side of me since my Dad is English. This helped me to appreciate diversity, and I truly believe that better solutions are reached when different perspectives help evaluate a situation. I believe that active listening is one of the most powerful tools available to all of us, but it needs to come with an openness to accept different points of view.
Q: Who inspires you within the Latino community?
A: There are so many Latin leaders who have been critical in my development and opened possibilities for our community. This could be a long list. A few names that come to mind: Jaime Davila and Jorge Montoya from P&G; Rogelio Rebolledo at PepsiCo; Ricardo Cisneros and Cristina Pieretti at AOLA; Jose Varela from Pronto; Don Guillermo Quirch from Quirch Foods; and, of course, Beto Pérez from Zumba.