A call to raise each other up!
Last year, Women’s History Month was upstaged by the biggest threat we can recall in recent history to our health, liberty of movement and the economy—an omen of the disproportionate and devastating impact on women– especially the front-line responders and essential workers, community volunteers, health professionals and caregivers who are predominantly women and who carry a phenomenal burden. We honor these women by dedicating this month’s blog to our President and CEO, Gloria Rodriguez, a woman who has mentored many along her illustrious career, especially women.
Gloria’s passion has been fueled in great part by her desire to develop empowerment and leadership programs for women and in leveling the playing field for Latina entrepreneurs around the world. A master at engaging the predominantly male C-suite leadership, she has guided and mentored women as an integral part of her personal and professional philosophy. Gloria believes women can get to the next level with a strategic alliance based on raising each other up. This focus and immense energy foment her mission for improving the quality of life for all based on the premise (as Gloria puts it) “We create to solve—everything has a solution.”
Gloria has also been at the forefront of the multicultural communications evolution in the United States and Latin America for over three decades. She is a change agent and a trailblazer, especially for Latinas who aspire to enter the public relations field. Gloria made history as she began her career at Metromedia News (now Fox Broadcasting Company) in 1979, an outlet in a major media market when it was rare to see a woman in that position – much less a Latina. In 1985, realizing there was a void of multicultural voices in communications and understanding the demographic changes across the nation would cause a shift in the mainstream marketing space, she set out to fill that void by founding her own public relations company, Comunicad, and creating cross-cultural/multicultural campaigns for her clients.
At Comunicad, Gloria has taught us to pivot and reinvent strategies to defend, guide and amplify our client’s success, especially in times of crisis, and seize the opportunities for growth. “As women,” she says, “We enter into our power together and amplify individual talents and strength and support each other professionally and personally.” We’ve acted on this spirit in our disaster response to hurricane, earthquake and hunger relief initiatives with our clients, proving that together we can overcome new challenges, including those presented by COVID-19, into lessons learned, to find new opportunities for the greater good.
Gloria understands that the challenges resulting from COVID-19 have devastated industry sectors in which women’s employment is greater—restaurants, retail sector, travel, hospitality, and health care. The pandemic also prompted virtual classrooms and closed daycare centers, adding a burden to mothers especially who typically tend to carry the load of household chores and childcare while managing careers. The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality found that “Working women are also at a greater disadvantage compared with working men in the current crisis because fewer women have jobs that allow them to telecommute.”
Gloria points out when there is high poverty or a health crisis that affects the whole nation, it typically impacts women and minorities most as is evident with COVID-19. Investing in socially minded collaborations inclusive of faith-based, private and community groups make us stronger and better poised for recovery and growth. Communities need to come together. The power of shared knowledge and how we can meet the economic and industry challenges is a value proposition of service that is a pillar of the Comunicad brand.
A resilient leader who gives back
Gloria’s professional philosophy is rooted on a discipline of resilience, adaptability, and seizing opportunities where some may only see hurdles. As government leaders and health officials urged citizens to stay at home, Gloria dispatched remote work contingencies for Comunicad staff and business continuity for our clients– noting, “We are in a crisis management situation. A crisis doesn’t imply immunity from performance management and sooner or later markets will judge which companies managed the challenge most effectively.”
Under her leadership, Comunicad has successfully carried out campaigns that make the business case for corporations to implement corporate social responsibility programs that address issues affecting local, national, and international communities. When many brands were playing catch-up in managing their narrative surrounding racial violence and struggling to give an authentic voice to the social justice movement, Comunicad was ready to address the issues with terminology that resonated with key audiences.
In 2017, Gloria was recognized as one of the 50 Game Changers of PR-by-PR News. A fitting acknowledgment of how she has led the agency through the conception and successful implementation of multicultural brand awareness campaigns for iconic American corporations and national nonprofits.
She continues to serve on several advisory boards for major cultural organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), making sure art and cultural projects reach communities throughout the U. S. and internationally. She is also a member of the Inter-American Development Bank’s first Advisory Board for Women’s Leadership in the Americas, as well as the International Women’s Forum. She is a founding Board Member and Chair of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) and dedicated more than ten years to the organization’s growth by developing programs with the Center for Creative Leadership and Harvard University’s Kennedy School. She also served on the board of the National Latino Children’s Institute – all organizations that empower women and are vehicles for change.
“When our communities are in need–we have to step up,” said Gloria at a recent National Women’s Business Round table event. She noted, “Our trajectory is in synergy with successful women leaders of private, public, nonprofit, community-based groups, small business enterprises and influencers, who would serve and help in the implementation of programs and services when asked.”
Gloria believes, critical to COVID-19 recovery is to meaningfully engage women in leadership forums seeking solutions. The disproportionate impact on women’s employment will be slow and long in its recovery. Economists estimate, “15 million single mothers in the United States will be the most severely affected, with little potential for receiving other sources of childcare and a smaller likelihood of continuing to work during the crisis.” Yet according to womendeliver.org, data indicates that across 30 countries women make up only 24% of COVID-19 response committees.
Gloria’s strategic approach to be at the forefront of public relations is a lesson learned from her history—a call to step up and leverage the power of partnerships by funding and supporting women-owned businesses, social mobility community efforts, and leadership programs to elevate women and recognize their critical role in the country’s economic recovery.
Our staff is witness to her perseverance, innovative spirit, strong leadership, and desire to help solve challenges. She leads her team from a position of strength and conviction that in partnership with our corporate clients, nonprofit community and national organizations, we can enact programs to impact change and provide hope in time of crisis. We honor her spirit, empathy and the human capital (predominantly female) she has nurtured and amplified at Comunicad, providing the scaffolding to make a difference for our clients and our professional growth.
And that is what we celebrate this month—the power of women, our responsibility to lift each other up and our contributions to society–exemplified by our indomitable CEO.