During Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate Latinx leaders at Constellation Brands who are inspiring change within the company and driving impact for the communities who support us year-round.
In fact, our ¡SALUD! BRG has themed this year’s celebration Latinxs Leading the Way. As we honor the diverse cultures that make up our Latinx employees and consumers, we connected with Carlos Butler-Vale, who was recently hired as Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to hear his perspective on diversity and how our commitments reflect what is right and good for business.
How did you come to Constellation Brands; can you tell us a little about your back story?
I first heard about Constellation Brands from a mentee, and then a month or two later I received a notification from LinkedIn. It was for a VP of DEI role, reporting to Mike McGrew, Chief Diversity, Communications and Social Responsibility Officer. I was intrigued by the opportunity to advance DEI beyond the important people function and align it with the inherent business case. Ultimately, everything that we’re doing for DEI strategy is to support our ambition to be #1 in total shareholder return.
What I love about this company is the singular and strategic source of truth – “Stars 2030,” our 10-year strategic view and aspiration for the business – by which we empower our portfolio of brands to show up in authentic ways that resonate with a range of current and future consumers who support our growth.
Can you tell us about your role at Constellation Brands and what you want to accomplish?
To foster a winning and inclusive culture, my role is focused on supporting and partnering with so many stakeholders who understand the power of collective decision-making to create viable solutions for the long term. Ensuring we provide leaders with actionable insights is critical for us to keep progressing against measurable and sustainable goals.
Can you talk a little about Constellation’s DEI commitments, and what distinguishes them in your mind?
I would highlight three key differentiators for Constellation’s DEI commitments:
Building a best-in-class, diverse workforce ensures that we work in lockstep with the full spectrum of consumers who support our growth and the communities in which we live and operate. That also means creating a best-in-class candidate experience so that we’re not only attracting amazing, diverse talent from those communities but hiring and engaging them in the right way.
I’d underscore that most of the time, as research continues to show, we make better, more inclusive business decisions when we have diverse representation at the table. Fostering an inclusive environment isn't just about making sure you can bring your complete self to work: it is about growing and developing our employees and making sure they have every opportunity to share their perspective.
The last component, of course, is about enhancing social equity, which is why we strive to be great stewards to our communities. That means taking everything we're doing internally and leveraging it to help externally – for our consumers in their communities.
How does your lived experience enable you relate to DEI commitments at Constellation Brands?
Well, I am a cisgender homosexual man who is married and has a child on the way. I am also a Latino who was born in Puerto Rico and came to the U.S. as a child, so English was not my first language. My lived experience gives me perspective into what others might be going through or struggling with – a sense of empathy and a willingness to help others along their journey.
As someone who has benefited from others’ advocacy in the past, which has enabled me to have my seat at the table, I have a strong desire to help open doors for others. Central to my role is championing representation.
How do you intend to actualize these commitments?
My longer-term approach is to make small but incremental steps to further embed DEI across the company culture – inviting everyone to play a role to make the work sustainable.
This is less about singular or separate disruptors and more about ongoing evolution and continuous improvement.
What is a value from your upbringing that you carry through to today?
There are two things.
The first is to carry this “watch me” mentality when someone questions your value, your ability or whether you should have a seat at the table. I’ve been surrounded by people who say, when told they can’t do something, “watch me.” That was formative for me; instead of running away from challenges, I dive in head-first. You win some and you lose some, but you always learn.
Another big piece of advice I learned along the way: if you’ve been invited to the dance, you’ve got to show people your moves. Sometimes when I meet emerging underrepresented talent, they question whether they are there because someone is trying to meet a quota, or similar reasons, so they start to question their worth. I say to them – it doesn’t matter; you are here, so get on that dance floor and show them what you can do!