“There weren’t many women or Latina CEOs in the tech industry when I started,” says Nina Vaca, chairman and CEO, Pinnacle Group. “Nobody looked like me at the top. Seeing that launched my journey to advocate for places in business for everyone.” She founded the Dallas-based company in 1996 and has not looked back. As a Latina, Vaca takes pride in heading up a minority- and woman-owned business that has diversity in its DNA.
Advocating for diversity in every sphere of her life, Vaca sees her work as fitting into three “buckets”: people — expanding diversity in hiring internally and in the contractor base; procurement — providing opportunities for diverse businesses; and philanthropy — connecting women and minorities with education and employment in STEM fields and with the power of entrepreneurship.
Vaca is especially proud of Pinnacle’s partnership with the Dallas Independent School District and Dallas College in the PTECH program, which provides predominantly underrepresented minority students with a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and industry experience upon high school graduation, preparing to them for careers in technology pathways.
Vaca’s philosophy on DE&I is simple: “More is better! What gets measured gets managed.” No single program is going to solve underrepresentation all at once, she acknowledges, but making measurable progress and proceeding with discipline will ultimately make a big difference.
Often asked by Fortune 500 companies to speak with them on this topic, Vaca takes these opportunities to advocate for the importance of advancing DE&I. “It starts with the tone at the top, and a true and sincere commitment to improve,” she says. Next comes an honest assessment of the company’s current status, seeking out knowledgeable and experienced mentors and, finally, putting a plan together with goals just as they would for any other business initiative.
“You can be sincere about goals, but it’s only when you get serious about them that you will achieve them.”2021 DE&I Influencers List