When Dallas Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall first arrived at the Dallas Mavs office in Dallas, the organization was rocked by headlines that it was a hostile workplace.
She went straight to work, interviewing employees, with the intention of learning the truth, so she could help fixing the organization’s culture.
“I was surprised that it still had the mentality of a startup,” observed Marshall. “I said, this company started 38 years ago. But it’s still run like it’s operating in a garage.”
A gathering of more than 300 attended the December 13th Leadership Dallas Alumni Annual Leadership Luncheon, which featured Marshall as keynote, who took over as Mavs CEO in February. During her on stage conversation, led by Sunwest Communications CEO Crayton Webb, Marshall also opened up about her upbringing, and her work trying to bring not only diversity, but inclusion into organizational cultures.
Marshall worked to create a four-point action plan to change the Mavs’ culture, which has been adopted as a model by other NBA organizations and is being considered by the NFL. Marshall – who retired in 2017 as AT&T’s Senior Vice President of Human resources and the Chief Diversity Officer – said she took the job after she was convinced that team owner Mark Cuban was sincere in his desire to change the environment at the organization.
“There is a difference between diversity and inclusion,” Marshall told the crowd. Diversity is … is being invited to the party, so you can have representation. You can have all the right people at the table. Inclusion … is being asked to dance.”
Marshall said the Mavs organization has fully adopted the inclusion approach, and now has diverse leadership to the lead it forward.
Founded in 1975, Leadership Dallas is the DRC’s flagship leadership development program, aimed at providing our city with an ongoing source of diverse leaders who are prepared and committed to serve as catalysts and sustainers of positive change for the quality of life in the greater Dallas area.
Receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award was Beverley Alridge Wright – from the LD Class of 1999; the honor of Outstanding Service of a Class Representative honor went to Chad Prochaska of the Class of 2014; the Special Service to Leadership Dallas honor went to Pete DeLisle.
The annual leadership luncheon was held at the Weston Galleria Dallas. Event sponsors included Munck Wilson Mandala LLP; Roland Parrish; and TDIndustries.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings posed a key question to city and business leaders at his last State of the City Address, Tuesday, Dec. 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Dallas: “The question is whether you want this curve (of growth) to continue over the next 20 years, or do you want it to flatten?”
It was one of many thoughts and questions Rawlings expressed in his question-and-answer discussion with Rudy Bush, Deputy Editor of Editorials for The Dallas Morning News.
“That’s a big question this city’s going to have to wrestle with in the coming years,” Rawlings said. “I believe that, as (author and Gallup CEO) James Clifton calls it, there’s a jobs war out there. Where a city’s… got to keep moving forward, or it’s going to die.”
The discussion between Bush and Rawlings spanned the highlights and most-challenging moments of Rawlings’ tenure – from fatal police shootings that shocked the city to the 50-percent growth in Dallas’ property tax base. More than 800 business leaders attended the event, which was was organized by the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and the 61st mayor of Dallas, will end his tenure as mayor on June 17, 2019; the city’s charter limits city council and mayoral officeholders to two, four-year terms.
At the Dec. 4 event, Rawlings recalled that when he took office in 2011, Dallas was still emerging from a recession that was still ravaging the nation. He said that when he took the helm as mayor, he didn’t know exactly what to expect, but that his practice as an executive is to examine an organization’s DNA, and to establish a narrative and a vision that compliments that organization’s strengths.
To Rawlings, Dallas was “Big D.”
“We were the home of Jean and (Texas Instruments founder) Norm McDermott,” Rawlings said. “And the great Erik Jonsson, who said, ‘Dream no small dreams.’ We had Ross Perot, who created EDS. We had Herb Kelleher who was, with a glass of whiskey, drawing lines on napkins to develop Southwest Airlines. Stanley Marcus took on Paris. We have Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. And this swagger that was out there.”
At the same time, Rawlings said, it appeared that Dallas had lost some of its swagger.
“I said… people come from all over the country to be a part of this. And we’ve got to make sure that we continue to spread that belief.”
Rawlings said he set his second primary objective as boosting development in Southern Dallas.
“Nobody had really dealt with Southern Dallas — (it’s the) largest part of our landmass. And a great opportunity. And so I said, ‘Aha. If we leverage Southern Dallas, and bring back that swagger, maybe that’s the formula for success.’”
He added that boosting Southern Dallas would help end the wealth disparity between the northern Dallas and southern Dallas.
“The Southern Dallas thing was not just a geographic issue, it’s a bit of a metaphor for including everybody in this growth,” Rawlings said. “Because Dallas had been historically a tale of two cities. We’ve got to make sure that the growth that we want to have includes everybody.”
The Dallas Regional Chamber has been working with Rawlings as part of its mission to create better career options for students and to establish a highly trained workforce for the Dallas Region’s growing economy. The DRC has also assisted Rawlings in promoting his GrowSouth initiative, which aims to improve the quality of life and to deliver jobs to Southern Dallas.
The DRC State of the City event was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; gold sponsors were American Airlines; Littler Mendelson, P.C.; and Oncor; silver sponsors included Austin College; Axxess; DFW International Airpor; Imaginuity Interactive; The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc.; and West Monroe Partners LLC.
When they gazed into their crystal balls at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Year Ahead Summit recently, observers of the U.S. economy saw mostly blue skies, but a few gathering clouds.
Fluor Corporation Chairman/CEO David Seaton, Polsinelli public policy expert Julius Hobson and economists Ray Perryman and Cullum Clark served as panelists for the DRC annual glance into the fortunes of the nation and the region. They also offered their opinions on Amazon’s decision to choose its HQ2 project in the Eastern Time Zone. Roughly 275 attended the event at the DRC’s Year Ahead Summit on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Fairmont Dallas.
Seaton said that the competition to land HQ2 brought welcomed attention to the Dallas Region, and that Amazon’s decision not to choose the region might benefit it.
“The diversity of the business community Dallas Region is a special thing – it’s as special as having DFW (Airport),” he said. “We’re not beholden to any one industry, in the cycles that they’re in. I’ve lived in Houston, and when the oil prices go down, it’s not fun.”
Outlook on the economy and infrastructure
The U.S. and Texas economy have changed completely under the advent of fracking.
“I think the U.S. economy has completely changed on the back of shale gas, and I don’t see it slowing any time soon,” he said. Seaton said that the economy is the strongest it’s been in his lifetime.
Yet Seaton also said that he foresees another recession hitting the U.S.; it’s just a question of when it will happen, and what will set it off.
“I think the (federal) debt increase, increases the chance for recession,” he said. “I think it goes through cycles,” he said, adding that the debt climbed higher than President Donald Trump anticipated because the anticipated higher tax revenues generated by tax cuts. He added that the national debt is the single largest risk the U.S. has in its future.
“Either someone’s going to fix it, or corral it, or we’re heading toward a worse-than-recession economy,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen in the next decade, but the math just suggests we just can’t continue this.”
Seaton predicted that Washington might be able to pass a much-needed infrastructure bill, and that it will be funded through a tax increase – perhaps a gas tax. The current political system, he said, generally doesn’t lend itself to the long-term planning necessary.
“We’ve got to think about infrastructure through the lens of 50 years — not filling potholes. But most politicians are paid to fill potholes. (That’s an) overstatement, but the short term need of a community is really what those politicians are” filling, he said.
Seaton said he views the future of major transportation projects – such as rail transit – as public/private ventures.
“We’ve done the only public/private light rail programs in the United States so far,” he said. “It’s got to come from somewhere. You hear about all that money sitting in coffers … that people want to put to work. Public/private partnerships, is how they can do it.”
In closing, Seaton made a request of the business leaders in the room.
“Get involved in the educational system in this area. I am the incoming chair of the National Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. What got me involved in this about a decade ago was one statistic: 80 percent of the people incarcerated in America read at the fourth-grade level. If you’re looking at jobs numbers now, you know, we need people. It’s not just putting money in it. It’s being mentor, and giving your time and your talent, to the schools, who so definitely need it… All companies have a role in it. It’s people’s time that matters.”
Texas economist Ray Perryman predicted continued economic growth for Texas and the U.S.
“We’re looking at growth at the 2.6 to 2.7 percent range” in the U.S., he said. “We think we can add roughly 200,000 jobs a month to the economy, if we can fill them.”
Perryman said he foresees Texas’ economic growing at an annual rate of 3.7 percent annually.
“I agree with David (Seaton), who said the shale gas and oil play is changing the global markets, in fundamental ways,” Perryman said.
Cullum, meanwhile, said Amazon’s decision to locate HQ2 should serve as a wakeup call to the region.
“This has the potential to be a ‘Sputnik moment’ for Dallas and all the other cities that are watching,” Cullum said, adding that Amazon’s reason that the sites Amazon chose had to do with a readily available, modern workforce in Virginia and New York City. He said the decision should serve as a call to action to improve educational efforts in math and science.
Hobson Jr. – a long-time D.C. lobbyist — said while he thinks the potential for a major transportation bill being approved by legislators ended when tax cuts were adopted.
He also predicted that legislators might approve a prescription drug bill.
The summit’s presenting sponsor was Polsinelli; gold sponsor was Littler; silver sponsors included Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; Fluor Corporation; and Southwest Airlines.
More than 350,000 working-age people in the Dallas Region qualify as having special needs. Among them, nearly 200,000 are not in the labor force.
In an economy with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation (roughly 3.4 percent), that’s an immense potential workforce that remains largely untapped. It’s the equivalent of four Amazon HQ2 workforces.
On Nov. 14, more than 60 industry and workforce leaders gathered at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Education to Employment Outlook series, which focused on how to align employers with the region’s special needs population. The event took place at the Dallas Regional Chamber.
“It’s a different era,” said Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas President and CEO Laurie Bouillion Larrea, who served as the discussion’s moderator. “Hiring special needs workers used to be about doing the right thing. Now, it’s about, ‘I can’t find my workforce. Where am I going to get my talent? So, doing the right thing, and doing the right thing for business, have suddenly collided.”
Larrea added that inclusion of diverse workers into the employment is borne from need. “Rosie the Riveter didn’t go to work because there wasn’t a need,” she said.
Larrea moderated a panel that included Deaf Action Center Executive Director Heather Hughes; Hiren C. Shukla, director of the Automation & Innovation Neuro-Diverse Centers of Excellence at EY; Tom Landis, founder/CEO of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream; and My Possibilities Executive Director Michael Thomas.
The panel’s consensus was that many employers still hold major misperceptions about what it takes to employ a special-needs workers, when actually, those individuals don’t require excessive expense or effort to incorporate into the workforce. And, once hired, those workers have stellar retention rates, performance records, and loyalty to their employers.
One of the biggest hurdles employers share in realizing when considering hiring special populations is looking at what they can’t do, rather than the potential workers hold.
Hughes referred to that hurdle as “deficit thinking.”
“We view ourselves as a linguistic subculture, so we don’t have an impairment,” said Hughes, through an interpreter. “For example, when I come into this room, I see my peers in the corner – they’re signing, communicating. And then I see the rest of you, as signing-impaired.”
Hughes added: “I think the deaf are often pushed aside, and hearing people who hear and speak English share the (deaf person’s) story, and the (deaf) perspective isn’t shown.”
Hughes said when Facetime arrived on the scene, the hearing-impaired population ran with it.
Thomas – whose organization works with adults age 18 and older whose IQs are below 80 – said hiring special populations shouldn’t be thought of as an act of charity, as much as it should be considered smart business.
Thomas said that often, highly paid, high-skilled professionals are tasked with repetitive tasks, such as stuffing folders, which can be done by less-skilled individuals, with greater accuracy.
He said for the past 15 years, a major bank is using a special-population workforce of 80 individuals in Dallas to stuff folders for bank customers, with little turnover. The practice is saving the bank millions of dollars annually, and they’re considering expanding the program to other cities, he said.
“It’s a little bit of dipping their toes in the water, and pushing past that fear, to get to the solution,” he said.
Shikula works with individuals who fall on the Asperger’s syndrome spectrum, or have been classified with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc. (referred to as “neuro-diverse”). He is part of EY’s initiative to help such employees reach their maximum human potential. Many of them work in artificial intelligence and other areas to help solve operational problems.
He said that one of his neuro-diverse workers noticed an operational problem and suggested a solution that turned out saving EY personnel an estimated 25,000 hours of labor.
“If we are smart enough to slow down, and listen the quietest people, to the softest voices … the power of what we’re hearing – it’s becoming a business imperative for us,” Shikula said. “This is becoming a talent pool that we need.”
A report by EY cites a Drexel University study, which found that more than half of all young adults with autism are unemployed. Roughly three-fourths of those surveyed said they wanted to work.
“This can lead to isolation, financial insecurity and social and economic dependence on family, government and community-based organizations,” the report says.
But the panelists maintained that companies shouldn’t hire special needs populations primarily out of humanitarian interests.
“Never hire someone for goosebumps or fist bumps,” said Howdy Homemade’s Landis. “Do it for sales bumps. Either you believe in the people, or you don’t.”
Landis said repetitive jobs are among the least desired in the workforce – but workers with special needs thrive doing those tasks. At the same time, he said, employers need to make sure that their special needs workers are well-rounded, and have lives outside of their jobs. He said that that’s why the Miami-based Best Buddies nonprofit was started – to help build friendships for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“They’re like robots – humans who will work 10-12 hours a day. They’re loyal. They have no social life. They’ve got nothing else going on. No one is paying attention to them. One of the things that really breaks my heart more than anything, is … I don’t think I’ve ever met a person with special needs, who has a friend,” Landis said.
During the discussion, Landis said if Dallas employers actively hire special needs workers, that decision can act as a tool to draw corporate relocations, such as Amazon’s HQ2.
“Amazon executives (and other employers) are going to go to places where people are going to pay attention to their employees,” Landis said. “We’re talking 50,000 employees with Amazon – 1.8 percent of them will have a child with special needs. That’s 600 (individuals with special needs). They’re going to look at what the City of Dallas and (Mayor) Mike Rawlings is going to do to help their kids.”
Corporate sponsors for the Education to Employment Outlook event were Oncor and Texas Instruments; event sponsors were Southwest Airlines, State Farm and UTA University Crossroads.
By: Tim Powers, Managing Partner at Haynes and Boone, LLP
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been integral to the growth of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and the pending revised trade arrangement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), promises to pave the way for these countries to sustain their productive business relationships for many years to come.
The USMCA is particularly good news for Dallas and the state of Texas — and for the businesses that are based here — as they are increasingly robust hubs for cross-border trade with Mexico, Canada and other countries.
In line with the Dallas Regional Chamber’s international strategic plan and as a member of the Chamber’s International Task Force, I would like to offer a few data points to underscore why I believe free trade is so important for the American and Texas economies:
The USMCA is expected to further strengthen North America as a competitive platform for manufacturing, most importantly in the automotive sector. It incorporates significant changes on automobile production and new policies on labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and some digital trade provisions. For example, under the new deal, cars and trucks must have 75 percent of their components (on a cost basis) manufactured in Mexico, the U.S., or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs. This is a substantial increase from 62.5 percent in the original NAFTA.
By 2023, a significant share of vehicle production, 40 to 45 percent of content, would be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour. While this provision will initially benefit U.S. and Canadian workers, the hope is that it will contribute over time to higher wages in Mexico. The USMCA also includes other provisions that will bring improved labor and environmental standards to Mexico.
Also under the new deal, U.S. farmers would gain more access to the Canadian dairy market and U.S. inventors would receive improved IP protections. The agreement extends the terms of copyright from 50 years beyond the life of the author to 70 years beyond the life of the author. It also increases protections for biologic drug production data from eight years to 10 years — which basically extends the period that a drug can be protected from generic competition.
The draft USMCA does not include an integrated chapter on energy, but it still maintains duty-free treatment of hydrocarbons and refined products, investor state dispute resolution protection for the oil and gas and energy sector and full access to procurement opportunities by Pemex and the state-owned power company CFE. It also attempts to consolidate the recent opening to the Mexican energy production market, and Mexico is also expected to benefit by increased investment in the energy sector. This open-market approach to energy investment, marketing, and transportation will consolidate the U.S.’s position as a valued partner, important customer, and a strong competitor. Overall, Texas (as the nation’s energy capital) will particularly benefit from this approach.
I have seen firsthand how businesses benefit from the free flow of goods, ideas and talent across borders. Haynes and Boone opened an office in Mexico City in 1994 to support our many clients that consider Mexico a vital market. And as our clients have steadily expanded in other international markets, so, too, has Haynes and Boone, which was founded in Dallas in 1970 and now has 16 offices worldwide, including in London and Shanghai.
Free trade is so critical to our clientele that last year we set up a multi-office NAFTA Task Force to advise clients on the ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA. During the course of the negotiations, we published the NAFTA Renegotiation Monitor in both English and Spanish and recently published a comprehensive review of the USMCA.
We believe USMCA will help boost intra-regional investment in North America, and we will continue to remain dedicated to these notions going forward.
As we await Congress’s vote on USMCA, we are encouraged (as are many of our clients) by the efforts to preserve this trilateral agreement. I believe that the USMCA, if ratified, will help continue to boost intra-regional investment in North America and will allow businesses in Texas and the rest of the region to continue to enjoy the sort of growth trajectory I have been so pleased to witness at Haynes and Boone.
Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm with offices in Texas, New York, California, Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., London, Mexico City and Shanghai, providing a full spectrum of legal services in energy, technology, financial services and private equity. With more than 575 lawyers, Haynes and Boone is ranked among the largest U.S.-based firms by The National Law Journal, The American Lawyer and The Lawyer. For more information, visit www.haynesboone.com.
UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL EVENTS
DRC partners are hosting exciting opportunities related to international business.
Taste of France
Friday, November 16 | 7 PM – 9:30 PM
Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.), 1807 Ross Avenue, Dallas, 75201
This fall, the French-American Chamber of Commerce is taking you on a journey through the wine, food, and fashion of France, which has become an American obsession. Sip French reds, whites, and rosés from the regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chardonnay, Chablis, and Provence. Taste pâtés, fromages, gateaux, macarons, and signature dishes offered by some of the area’s top chefs and gourmet purveyors. Excite your visual palette through French fashion and entertainment sprinkled throughout the event. And, as a souvenir of this event, outbid your friends and take home a trip to Europe or dinner at a fine restaurant in the silent auction. Venez voir! Click here for more information and to register for the event.
We welcome your questions and comments. To request more information about area businesses or to share an idea, contact us: