“I always share, I am the ‘I’ in diversity,” says José. “There’s no other way I could identify.”
Born in Guatemala, José moved to Chicago with his family in his younger years. When he arrived in the Chicagoland area, he spoke no English. The high school he attended had 6,000+ students, yet “you could not count the number of Hispanic on two hands, as there weren’t very many.” he shares.
“There was a level of ignorance,” he says. “A certain level of prejudice, name calling, labelling, that happened.”
José began making strong connections in his community — thanks in part to his involvement in the sport of wrestling.
“My uncle taught wrestling in Guatemala,” he says, “and I would be his throwing dummy because I was too young. So, when my teachers in Niles, IL suggested I join the team, I was eager to try.”
He did more than try, in fact. His talent and dedication earned him an athletic scholarship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied international business. His first job after graduating was working for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
José’s career took him across the U.S. and the world and across different industries. It was a match, he says, on his passion for community involvement and business focus.
“I always worked in diverse, multicultural communities,” he says. “From my mother’s teachings, I would always volunteer, wherever I was. I don’t know how to not volunteer.”
After working in senior leadership D&I roles in retail and hospitality organizations, José joined PCL in 2020.
As PCL’s point person for diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I, in the U.S. José brings his passion for building communities to work every day.
One of his proudest achievements to date? Seeing DE&I continue to expand and being intentionally integrated into PCL’s formal U.S. business strategy.
“ Our executive team is putting a stake in the ground at PCL, and saying we’re going to move DE&I forward.”
He’s particularly excited for his plans to evolve and expand DE&I over the coming years at PCL.
“We must consider the vast range of identities each of our employees embrace and bring to PCL,” he says. “We also need to take a more holistic approach to DE&I at every level of the company, and ensure that our strategy is intentional and effective.”