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Former Pennsylvania Secretary of State Discusses Diversity from Business, Moral, Political and Security Points of View

Lecture Part of Diversity Week Events

by Stephen Thomas ’14

Cortes

Diversity allows for better communication in business because it shows caring and sensitivity toward others, said Pedro A. Cortés, the first confirmed Latino Cabinet member and the longest serving Secretary of State in Pennsylvania history, as he addressed an audience at Albright in April.

In a lecture titled, The Case for Diversity: Business, Moral, Political and Security Imperatives, Cortés went on to discuss the business side of diversity. He noted that doing business with others from different countries plays a role in diversity because of the communication barriers. Being able to communicate with others, possibly in a different language, shows caring and sensitivity toward that individual, he said.

From a moral standpoint, Cortés’ presentation focused on the need to “be your brother’s keeper.” He stated that it’s important to provide care for those who are unable to help themselves, and discussed how giving back is always the right thing to do. Everyone is entitled to the constitutional promise of “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness,” he reminded the audience.

Diverse communities also play an important role in politics, he said, especially in presidential elections. Increases in diversity help states maintain or increase the number of seats they have in Congress, he said. The more support diverse communities have, the greater chance those communities will have to grow in those states.  

Finally, from the security side, Cortés said, “We need our neighbors more than we think.” In order to move forward, he noted, we need to be unified. Everyone needs to make sure that they are watchful and value the society that they are a part of in order to protect their community,” he said.

Faculty, staff, students, government officials and the public gathered to listen to Cortés, who served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State from 2003-2010, as part of a week-long celebration of diversity at the College.

Cortés, who is currently a partner with the law firm of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith, where he is the director of HGSK’s Community Liaison Office, said he was happy to have been asked by Albright to speak during Diversity Week. “It shows that Albright values diversity,” he said. “Everyone has the ability to learn more and at the same time validate that we are all on the right path.”

Tiffany Clayton ’08, coordinator of multicultural programs, said of the presentation, “Secretary Cortés gave the audience hope that anything is possible and that you don’t have to hide who you are in order to become who you want to be.”

This event was sponsored by Albright College’s Experience Program, Multicultural Affairs Office, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department and the President’s Office. Other Diversity Week events included motivational speakers, movies, poetry readings, cultural dinners and dances.

“Diversity Week is essential for bridging the gap between cultures. It’s a way to celebrate who you are, where you come from, and learn about others,” Clayton said. “We are all diverse in some way or another, so this week is for everyone, where diversity and all its meanings are celebrated.”

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