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Being 'authentic' is 'better for society and better for business': IBM exec on diversity

Trends that started during the pandemic are expected to continue, says Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner at IBM (IBM) Services.

“We have seen trends, for example, in health care, where telemedicine is now becoming the norm. And even after the pandemic, that will probably stay,” Mantas told Yahoo Finance: Presents Hispanic Stars.

IBM surveyed over 50,000 people to detect what might be permanent changes in consumer behavior. Those more permanent shifts basically inform the direction in which companies need to go.

“At the beginning of the year, we would all be talking about the challenge of ownership, whether it's property or cars, because of the sharing economy. Everybody's using Uber (UBER) or Lyft (LYFT) or something like that. And what has happened with COVID-19 is that has reversed the other way around,” said Mantas.

According to the survey, about half of the people that used to use ride-share prior to the pandemic, said “they're not comfortable” using that mode of transportation now, said Mantas.

“Over 20% of the people say they're going to stay using their own vehicles as the exclusive means of transportation,“ he added.

Mantas said his own unit was prepared for digital transitions accelerated by the pandemic.

“We always have had the mix of in-person and remote delivery of the products and services that we do. Right now, because of COVID, it really forced us to re-imagine very quickly how can we accelerate that flexibility,” said Mantas.

“The main benefit of cloud technology is that elasticity-- that you don't actually need to be physically-- you're not dependent on the physical location of one machine. You can basically run the technology from anywhere,” he added.

IBM is one of the companies and organizations that have collaborated for and pledged to We Are All Human’s Hispanic Promise, an initiative created to hire, promote, retain, and celebrate Hispanics in the workplace.

Mantas has focused on initiatives to get more Hispanics in STEM careers. He says the challenge is getting people interested early.

“By the time they're 13 to 14, they typically have made up their mind if they're going to go to a STEM career or not. And it's really hard to change them if they've made up their mind that maybe that's not for them,” said Mantas.

IBM works on facilitating mentors and internships through a program geared towards minorities called ‘P-tech’.

“We are accelerating the disposition of mentors so all of these students can actually see people that look like them, speak like them ... and they say, ‘Wow, maybe I can be like that, too’,” said Mantas.

“Success is typically the product of an assembly. It's very rarely a soloist act,” says Mantas.

He adds many mentors helped him along the path of his own career. Mantas was born and raised in the south of Spain. In 1994, he came to U.S. as management consultant. Some suggested that he change his name, as the name “Jesus” might make people uncomfortable.

“There were people in that period of time that they told me I had made a huge mistake, that I should go back, that, you know, I didn't speak the language very well, so I would probably never be a good consultant in the consulting business, “ he recalls.

“Many Hispanics, even today, they have to make that daily choice of covering — what's labeled as covering,” he said.

He suggests people embrace their uniqueness and backgrounds.

“Do you want to fit in the context, or do you want to be authentic — who you are, what you bring to the table. And the latter it is better for society and is better for business,” said Mantas.

“Teams that are formed with more inclusive, more authentic individuals outperform those that they don't,” he added.

Ines covers the U.S. stock market. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre

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