Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and his Diversity Committee sure can put on a pep rally for the citizens of Plano! Around 500 Plano citizens and businessmen and women converged at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park to celebrate diversity and inclusion on Monday, Oct. 5.
Live tweets from the crowd flashed throughout the evening on two large screens. The hashtags said it all:
#We are no one’s suburb.
#Plano 3.0 rocks.
Plano 1.0 was the Plano of the ‘80s, where the population was 80,000 and most of our residents worked in Dallas. Plano 2.0 was the Plano of the ‘90s, where our population doubled and we were just another large suburb. Plano 3.0? According to Mayor LaRosiliere, “Plano 3.0 is no longer a suburb…We are a self-contained, sustainable city. … Plano 3.0 is a city of today that is prepared for the future as we comfortably compete for any business and resident on the global stage.”
After a quick selfie (his audience didn’t mind at all), the mayor boasted some of Plano’s bragging rights. The “City of Excellence,” with a population of 275,000, is the:
- 70th largest city in the nation
- 9th largest city in Texas
- 4th largest in North Texas
- Largest city in Collin County
Some of the country’s largest and most recognized companies are headquartered here in Plano and seven of those companies have more than 3,000 employees. Perhaps the most staggering fact: 45% of our population is non-Caucasian and 80 native languages are spoken in homes across Plano.
Sanjiv Yajnik, President of Financial Services for Capital One, moved to Plano from Virginia with plans to only stay two for years, until he quipped, “I realized I’m actually a Texan.” The audience chuckled. Yajnik added, “The Face of America is right here in this room. We don’t just have unbelievable talent from Plano…but all over the world because Plano opens its doors to everyone.” The audience erupted in applause.
Personal testimonies poured in from corporate ambassadors such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Texas Instruments, and Ericsson to student ambassadors of diversity. A Plano Senior High School student credited PISD for creating an outlet for students to pursue their dreams. Highlighting the testimonies was an inspirational plea from #BigMike representing My Possibilities, who shared why people with disabilities matter.
The evening continued with a lively panel discussion moderated by Kevin Jones, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Americas for Hewlett-Packard, featuring executives from FedEx Office, JCPenney, Toyota, Arta Travel, and Mayor LaRosiliere. The mayor repeated (and later re-tweeted) his favorite quote of the night from HP’s Chief Diversity Officer Brian Tippens: “The company that wins in diversity is the company that wins in the marketplace.”
Panelists also addressed the challenge of defying preconceptions in the community. With 42% of our population under the age of 34 and nearly one fifth Millennials, diversity and inclusion aren’t even “issues,” rather, “expected” and we should all look forward to the day that it is celebrated in both corporations and in the community.
Mayor LaRosiliere concluded the evening encouraging attendees to embrace diversity and inclusion not only in the workplace, but also in our community. “Volunteer. Do a day project. Fill backpacks for underprivileged students. Join the Multicultural Outreach Roundtable. There are so many ways…” the mayor said. “You can choose to exist in the community, or you can choose to be part of it.”