Liberty Tax Service is a proud sponsor and participant in VALHEN’s Encuentro 2011 Conference, providing expertise and scholarship funding


The Encuentro Conference is an annual meeting of the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN), where members discuss Latinos and education, and strive to advance Virginia Latinos in higher education.

The VALHEN Encuentro 2011 was held on March 24 -25 at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, VA. This year’s topic was Latinos – Growing and Driving Success in Virginia. Keynote speakers were Dr. Michael Olivas, J.D. and Ph.D, and Mr. Juan Sepulveda, Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Liberty Tax Service was a major sponsor of the event, and actively participated as a speaker/presenter in the conference.

Ms. Martee Pierson, Director of Diversity Programs of Liberty Tax Service and Executive Director of the Una Familia Sin Fronteras Foundation, led a session on the Importance of Entrepreneurship, together with Dr. Marcela Chavan-Matviuk, Ph.D. and Dr. Mavel Velasco, Ph.D. Key topics of their session included Drs. Velasco’s and Chavan-Matviuk’s introduction of the natural adeptness at entrepreneurship as a part of typical Latino “DNA”, due to a long tradition of creative and successful entrepreneurship throughout Latin America, as well as the cultural barriers that can create a risk-adverse sentiment among our new immigrants. Ms. Pierson proposed and rationalized the extension of existing GED and ESL classes, which are very popular with Latinos, in order to include financial and fiscal responsibility education, as well as career training. The premise of Ms. Pierson’s presentation was that the Latino students are already physically and psychology ready to learn by virtue of attending these classes; therefore it would make sense to provide them with these educational tools that will help them can grow and prosper economically.

One of the conference highlights was the awarding of the Second Annual VALHEN scholarships for the 2011-2012 school year. Two deserving students received awards of $1000 each, both funded by VALHEN. Three additional students were awarded $500 scholarships, sponsored through a generous donation by Liberty Tax Service and its Una Familia Sin Fronteras (A Family Without Boundaries) initiative and Foundation.

“VALHEN is a highly respected organization whose goals are completely in synch with the values and intentions of Liberty’s Hispanic initiative and Foundation,” explains Ms. Pierson. “It is always a pleasure to work these types of organizations that are bringing education, inspiration and empowerment through education to our Hispanic communities.”

Liberty’s Una Familia Sin Fronteras initiative is an educational outreach program that brings financial and fiscal education seminars and courses to Hispanic communities across the nation, at no cost. Courses and seminars are taught in Spanish, and many qualify for college credits through the University of Phoenix.

The Una Familia Sin Fronteras initiative seeks to partner with educators of Hispanic youth and adults, to further enable immigrants to achieve financial success in the United States. If you represent an educational organization that is interested in partnering with Una Familia Sin Fronteras, please contact Ms. Martee Pierson at Liberty Tax Service.


3 Keys to Success – 2011 Focus Points

Post by: Scott Thibeault


Strategic Talent Innovations


A dear friend of mine asked that I share this more broadly so that more companies could benefit- so here it is.
This was a response to a client that was struggling to identify what priorities the company should focus on in 2011.
Three keys to success for any company are 1.) Engagement, 2.) Agility and 3.) Execution. These three qualities, done correctly will drive companies to their ultimate potential. Active engagement is when your employees understand the company’s mission and objectives; if they have been involved in their creation they are more likely to own the results they deliver and will do all they can to deliver the best outcome possible. Actively engaged employees focus on the desired results, they come to work motivated with passion to deliver and they will operate with a sense of urgency and with a pride in supporting and delivering value driving results.
Agility is the company’s ability to quickly react to market conditions, internal hurdles, competitor issues and other unforeseen factors that could impact delivery of the company’s identified goals.  Stringent planning with proactive identification of all possible scenarios will help avoid many potential pitfalls, but it is impossible to anticipate every potential circumstance that will inevitably finds its way into companies’ paths.  That is why agility, and the ability to change on a dime must be practiced over and over within corporations.  The best corporations embrace the idea that change is normal.  Change is the status quo.  Agile corporations accept change as a matter of normal business, they proactively identify change potential; they analyze the change opportunity; recognize and communicate the value of changing and embrace the change and drive to the new goal line. Companies that can best adapt to changing market conditions are the industry’s top performers. The pace of change has been accelerating annually at an exponential rate with all expectations that it will continue given our technological advancements. Change not only in processes and automation but also, changes in worker attitudes, and biases, not to mention global economic changes and political tides require companies to become more agile.  Agility drives efficiency, which drives profitability.
Execution is the way in which companies achieve results.  Execution again, if practiced and honed, is a huge competitive advantage.  Companies that make change a priority and an organizationally held value, and those that make employees part of the solution development process – have envied execution.  Sound execution comes from a confidently engaged workforce that is eager to meet the company objectives that they have been instrumental in creating.  That process feeds employees’ need to add value in what they are doing.
Pursuing and refining the 3 keys to success will pay dividends beyond your expectations.  While you will create top to bottom alignment, your goals will be achieved with ease; but you will also become an employer of choice.  That of course, reduces your turnover; better said, increases retention.  It reduces your recruitment costs, employees want to work for a great company. And it will improve your marginal returns.
The biggest returns come from the simplest solutions.




Lack of Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom Limits America’s Global Leadership  


The purpose of this paper is to illustrate why diversity, in all its manifestations, in today’s 
corporate boardroom is to America maintaining our global market position in changing 
times that are reducing the dominance of a business culture of the elite. And why the 
boardroom provides the perfect vehicle by which to view race and gender diversity 
evolution since the 1950s.
Lack of Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom Limits America’s Global Leadership    INTRODUCTION  The purpose of this paper is to illustrate why diversity, in all its manifestations, in today’s corporate boardroom is to America maintaining our global market position in changing times that are reducing the dominance of a business culture of the elite. And why the boardroom provides the perfect vehicle by which to view race and gender diversity evolution since the 1950s.


Click here to read the rest of the article. Lack of Diversity pdf

From Melting Pot to Salad Bowl

Diversity at its Best
By John T. Hewitt
Founder & CEO of Liberty Tax Service


[Fourth in a series of articles on managerial and company building successes by John Hewitt.]


Diversity in the workplace has been discussed by every business leader at some time or another, and certainly, it has long been a topic for authors and politicians. But, as much as it is bantered about, I often wonder if everyone really thinks about how diversity actually affects their leadership skills and the future view of their businesses.

For years, the U.S. has been known as “a melting pot”, typically singling out New York City as the main “melting pot of America” because it has drawn so many people from so many different cultures – all hoping to capture that American dream. We were comfortable with this description of “America” as it spoke to its population in terms of the many ingredients required to flavor a “melting pot”. But I doubt that anyone ever really thought about what a “melting pot” actually intimates. Think about it — one pot, with lots of individual flavors and ingredients, all “melted” together to create one color, one texture, and ultimately, one flavor. Frankly, this does not sound very appetizing to me. On the other hand, the new nomenclature of “salad bowl” when referring to our multicultural population is much more appealing, and in fact, is more realistic and even healthier, if you will, if you view the significance of this expression. In a “salad bowl”, each ingredient retains its flavor, color and texture, each complementing one another and enhancing its overall nutritional value. So should it be for diversity in the workplace. Companies that incorporate multicultural ideals into their business plans are always going to be the leaders in their field because they will be the recipients of ideas and influences that are more far reaching than those that are needed for status quo business environments. After all, the true meaning of diversity is quite conceptual in that it is, in reality, an exploration of differences that ultimately celebrates individuality, while embracing the unique experience it brings to the workplace and business in general.

In the past, our immigrants were expected to assimilate with their new world, which meant that they not only had to learn the language and customs, which I believe is vital for anyone living in any foreign country, but they often were expected to give up their culture as well. That is to say, clothing and holiday celebrations were expected to revert to that which is accepted as the norm in the U.S. They were expected to look, dress and even celebrate in synch with our Anglo-Saxon roots. Customs and values that were so intrinsic to their culture were literally expected to be moved aside and/or just disappear altogether. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, that large companies such as AT&T, Sears & Roebuck and yes, even Coca Cola started to view the makeup of America in a distinctly different way. They started to view their ethnic consumers in a new light and realized that the importance of understanding the psychographics of these important ethnic communities was going to be necessary if their companies were to remain leaders.

This realization brought to the forefront the commonsensical approach of using demographics to determine the attitudes and tastes of a particular segment of a population. While all of this high-level thinking is important, especially as it relates to consumer behavior and their buying power, companies still did not get the actual importance of what all of this was revealing. Very simply, companies needed to open their doors, and in some cases, their hearts to “other” cultures and realize that the makeup of their staff, as well as management teams, must also reflect that of the ever-changing makeup of our new business environment.

Our society is far more diverse today than it was in the heyday of mass marketing when the previously noted companies were scrambling to stylize their messaging to meet the cultural nuances of each diverse market segment. For this very reason, through my years of leading successful companies and keeping an eye on trends versus realistic opportunities to grow my business, it was of great importance to me that both of my companies, Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Service be among the leaders in understanding and embracing diversity in the workplace, that our employees and Franchisees also be educated in this corporate culture, and most importantly, that we not just react to the need for diversity as an afterthought.

In today’s business environment, there is a great deal of lip service given to diversity efforts as proclaimed by many companies, both large and small. Unfortunately, very few of them do more than hire a few “minorities” and then label themselves as a diversity-sensitive company. Another aberration that I have noticed as of late, is that some companies go to great lengths to create a Diversity Department with the sincere goal of satisfying the importance of diversity in the workplace and community, yet they have a tendency to bring in leadership that in no way resembles the multicultural environment they are attempting to create or reach. In spite of the numerous articles and books written about diversity, many business leaders continue to confuse this extremely vital piece of a successful company’s strategy with the act of simply creating rules to eliminate discrimination and racism in the workplace. While I do not take light of any biases, and without hesitation can attest that neither of these attitudes will ever be tolerated at any time in any company I lead or have led, diversity in the workplace has gone far beyond these fundamental issues. Instead, successful leaders must make diversity an all-encompassing strategy that should be at the core of their internal intelligence practices.

For this reason, when we created the Diversity Programs Department at Liberty Tax Service, we researched the market segment that we believed most needed our direct attention in terms of our core expertise, and how we could utilize this to build new business for our Franchisees while also providing a valuable service to the community. We decided to focus on the Hispanic community since it is the fastest growing immigrant influence in the U.S. today; and these new immigrants are in desperate need of information that will help them successfully enter into our mainstream economy as productive and contributing individuals. Once this was decided, we set about defining leadership and staffing needs that would make the impact our business plan required. I wanted to ensure that Liberty’s program would speak to the Hispanic community properly, as failure in this important effort was simply not an option. That said, we went about building a leadership and team that includes numerous Hispanic ethnicities, all of them fluent in Spanish and all of them community-driven. But, it’s not just a language issue; it is understanding the culture that truly makes the difference. I can guarantee you that the Hispanic Services Team at Liberty can speak a great deal more effectively to the Latino community than I can because, since they are all Hispanics, they understand the culture and realize that things we say in English do not have the same impact if we simply translate them into Spanish. [More on Liberty’s unique Hispanic initiative in another article to come.] The key with any diversity effort is to understand the value and importance of a diverse group’s contribution as employees, and in my case, Franchisees included, as well as consumers.

According to a breakthrough study considered by many business leaders as the benchmark for future business thinkers, Workforce 2020: Work and Workers in the 21st Century, by Richard Judy and Carol Damico, they described diversity in the workplace as much more than just zoning in on male/female selection or the color of one’s skin. Diversity in the workplace has become a broader more inclusive practice that requires integration principles and collaboration of ideas. Successful companies are keen on this perspective and successful leaders have learned to celebrate the priceless dimensions contained within each individual regardless of race, creed, disability, gender or color. In other words, it’s not just about a “kumbaya moment”, it is about an inclusive corporate culture that will thrive if nurtured with the influences and collective intelligence that only a multicultural environment can produce.

Essentially, regardless of race or ethnicity, no culture is homogenous. Successful leaders realize this extremely important reality and have learned to work with these many different influences in order to pull the best of the best from each individual for the betterment of the company and the communities they serve. One thing, however, that all humankind has in common is our mutual need to be understood and respected!