Sprint's Claure seeks more ethnic diversity in workforce

Sprint (NYSE: S) CEO Marcelo Claure said yesterday that he thinks one-third of the carrier's employees and management team should be Hispanic or of African-American descent.

"I have made it a very clear point that I want one-third of our employees and our management team to be Hispanic or of African-American descent," the Bolivian-born Claure said during an address to the National Council of La Raza's national convention in Kansas City, according to the Kansas City Star. "It's not because we need to fill a quota. It's because I'm certain that we will understand the needs of our customers better."

Claure said that more than a third of Sprint's customers are Hispanic or of African-American descent. Sprint had around 31,000 employees at the end of March, and Sprint did not clarify what percentage of its employees or management is currently Hispanic of African-American.

Sprint spokeswoman Melinda Tiemeyer told the Star that Claure's comments reflected his "vision" for the company's employees, and that Sprint wants to better understand its customers. "It's not a policy," she said, saying that Sprint does not have specific hiring goals.

When asked whether Sprint has similar plans for hiring women, Tiemeyer told FierceWireless, "We believe a workforce that mirrors our increasingly diverse customer base will help us best serve our customers." 

Since taking over as CEO of Sprint last August Claure has made outreach to the Hispanic community a key part of his corporate strategy. In November he said "Hispanic/multi-cultural" would be one of Sprint's four main business units, along with postpaid, prepaid and enterprise. Shortly thereafter, Claure appeared in a Sprint advertisement in which he spoke directly to the camera in Spanish in an ad targeted directly at the Hispanic market and aimed at highlighting Sprint's value proposition.

In April Sprint hired Roger Solé as senior vice president for the Hispanic market and senior vice president of innovation. Solé reports to Claure and leads the Hispanic/multi-cultural business unit. Solé also serves as president of Sprint Puerto Rico, where he oversee all business functions in Puerto Rico. 

Most recently, Solé was chief marketing officer of TIM Brasil.  Prior to that he led innovation for Vivo (Telefonica Brasil), the largest operator in Brazil.  

Claure spoke about his life as an entrepreneur in founding wireless device distributor Brightstar, which is now majority-owned by Sprint parent SoftBank. "I want to prove that we Hispanics are as capable as anybody else to lead a major corporation," Claure told his audience. "I also know that if I fail, the journey will be much harder for those who follow."

According to the Star, Claure said the opportunity to set an example as a successful Hispanic executive was one of the key reasons he took the CEO job at Sprint "and the one that keeps me full of energy and hope."

For more:
- see this Kansas City Star article

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