MARINE GENERAL ENCOURAGES HUMAN RESOURCES VALUE, CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY TO BUSINESS LEADERS
By Sgt John Neal
| | June 18, 2002
NEW YORK --
Major General Leo V. Williams, USMCR, stepped up to the lectern a tall, imposing figure in military dress with a warm and personable smile. When he greeted his audience with "good evening," he did so with sincerity as though he was truly happy to be speaking.
He stood tall behind the lectern, puffed his chest out and smiled as he proclaimed, "I am proud to be an American. We should all be proud to be Americans."
William was one of several speakers at the 10th Annual Hispanic Association Corporate Responsibility (HACR) symposium in New York June 18. Other speakers included U.S. Secretary of the Treasury the Honorable Mr. Paul O'Neill and Armando Codina, Chairman and CEO of the Codina Group Inc. - a Miami-based real estate company - and board member for five Fortune companies. The general's intent for his "very short and sweet" address was to use the military as an example of corporate responsibility for Corporate America to follow.
When he's not in as the Vice Director of Joint Experimentation at the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., Williams lives in Detroit and works for the Ford Motor Company as the brand manager for the Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle.
His experience in military and civilian leadership roles allowed Williams to draw parallels between the responsibilities military and Corporate America leaders have to their employees.
In a period of scandals that have rocked Wall Street and attracted the ire of Congress, the general addressed the importance of corporate responsibility business leaders have to their employees and customers. For the military, according to Williams, the sense of corporate responsibility extends to the preservation of American ideals.
"We recognize the corporate responsibility we have to America to protect its Constitution and the people of this great land," he said.
The sense of responsibility to the Nation, according to Williams, includes a corporate responsibility military leaders must have to better serve the men and women under their command. Corporate America, likewise, must share a similar sense of responsibility toward their employees.
"The war [in Afghanistan] is fought by highly motivated, fiercely patriotic Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. All they ask for in return is to be well led and that provisions are made for their selves and their families. The corporate responsibility of the military is to ensure their needs and wants are met.
"It is the corporate responsibility of Corporate America to ensure that your own employees are well led, their welfare is provided for, and you appreciate that they have done a job well done."
Above all, the general continued, leaders whether military or civilian, must recognize the value of human resources.
"People are our most important asset. We must keep this fundamental truth at the forefront of all that we do."
The HACR symposium provided a forum for Hispanic corporate leaders to address the growing population of the Hispanic community in America (up from 22.4 million in 1990 to 42.6 million in 2000, including Puerto Rico), and the inclusion of Hispanic workers not just in the workplace but also in managerial and professional positions.
Prior to giving his address, Maj. Gen. Williams said the Marine Corps have always welcomed the diversity men and women of Hispanic origin bring to the service. Such diversity includes a traditional focus on family values, a topic that is in the constant attention of military and government leaders.
"The family is a grounding force in the Marine Corps," said Williams, referring to the crucial role the family plays in the retention of qualified Marines. "The Marine Corps has traditionally consisted of young, single Marines and that is now changing to young, married Marines. As this demographic continues to change, we must address the financial costs and be able to provide the family support services necessary to support that grounding force."