5 Minutes With Punam Mathur

Punam Mathur has a daunting challenge: how to engage and inspire 70,000 employees to embrace the values of diversity. As MGM Mirage’s senior vice president of corporate diversity and community affairs, she is already on her way. Since taking the reins of MGM’s diversity efforts, the company has won numerous accolades for its initiatives, including its minority representation, retention, and recruitment efforts. Diversity Woman caught up with Mathur to see how diversity took center stage.

Diversity Woman: What are some of the programs you’re most proud of?
Punam Mathur: When it comes to topics around diversity and leadership, you can’t really have an everlasting impact on people in a four-hour training session because these require more than intellectual discussions. It’s got to be one that engages them emotionally. We offer a three-day, very intensive program called “Diversity Champion,” hich focuses on what it takes to be an excellent leader. You can’t be an excellent leader without really mastering and being comfortable with the values of diversity.

DW: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
PM: As with all companies, we struggle with the identification of qualified minorities, especially at the senior level. When you do find impeccable talent, everyone else is trying to attract that same talent. So the dynamics of the labor market makes it a bit challenging for all of us. I don’t think it’s unique to MGM. It’s just the reality of the world in which we live in.

DW: Has corporate America become more aware and proactive about diversity in the last 10 years?
PM: Absolutely no question. It isn’t a choice. If you look back through history, it’s been populated with companies that chose not to pay attention to what was happening in the world. If you look at the demographics, you ought to pay attention because [the African-American, Latino, and Asian-American segment] become your customers and employees of the future. The world is changing whether we pay attention to it or not, and as it grows, all companies can choose to be proactive.

DW: Do you have a motto?
PM: This experience that we call life is a very fleeting one and I don’t want to ever have regrets. I don’t ever want to be paralyzed by I should’ve, I could’ve, I didn’t … My aspiration is to leave some impression. Not an impression on things or organizations, but on the hearts of human beings.

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