Employers should invest in a diverse workforce to ensure a viable future for their companies, the head of the Hispanic Federation said on Nov. 3 at Fordham.

“When you build inclusion into a structure, what you build is trust, cohesion and unity,” said Lillian Rodríguez López (FCRH ’85), who leads the nonprofit membership organization that serves nearly 100 health and human services agencies in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Lillian Rodríguez López Photo by Chris Taggart

The keynote speaker for the Office of Career Services’ annual Diversity Networking Banquet, Rodríguez López said she didn’t believe the immigration debate had to do solely with how people arrive in this country.

“It’s whether or not we’re willing to accept that we are a country founded on the basis of freedom, diversity and multiculturalism,” she said to an audience of about 200 students and 20 recruiters from a variety of corporations.

“If we don’t accept that, and remember that is what made us great, we’re doomed to fail,” she added.

Globalization has drastically changed the world, rendering it increasingly diverse, Rodríguez López said. For companies to meet the challenge of operating among diverse cultures, they are going to have to do things differently.

“Why don’t we decide today that diversity just is? We don’t need to make a case for it,” she said. “We don’t need to defend it anymore, but we do need to make a case for inclusion.”

Companies should be deliberate about the inclusion of people of different races, colors and creeds.

“It means you make everyone welcome to bring their best to your work environment,” Rodríguez López said. “When you build inclusion, it shows you value diversity and success. For the companies here today, thank you for taking the time to invest in our students. You’re really investing in your own future.

Fordham students got to network with representatives from several companies. Photo by Chris Taggart

“All of these students know their communities,” she said. “These are our next leaders and their trajectory within Fordham and outside of this great institution, will set the stage for how companies and this country succeed or fail.”

The Diversity Networking Banquet gives employers an opportunity to meet with students with diversity recruitment in mind. Representatives from more than 16 corporations attended the event, including those who are CORE partners supporting the initiatives of Fordham’s Office of Career Services.

They are: Deloitte, KPMG, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network—the Russo Group, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network—the White Plains Group, Standard Motor Products and Target.

Sodexo, which manages Fordham’s food service program, provided support for the banquet.


Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.