Posts Tagged ‘visibility’

Do Latinos Help Other Latinos as Much as They Could?

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

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A frequent complaint I hear from Latinos trying to break into power circles is that other Latinos who are already there don’t extend a helping hand. I’ve seen it myself. And if you wonder, like I do, why there aren’t more visible Latino leaders or why our share of power is nowhere near the percentage of the Latino population in this country, part of the answer might lie in the lack of a helping Latino hand.

As a media contributor at national and local levels, I have spent the last few years pursuing opportunities in English media, because I believe that in order to expand my message and influence, I need to move beyond talking to an audience which has a similar background to my own. Otherwise, I’m just preaching to the choir instead of raising awareness in a segment of the population that may not understand a Latino perspective.

Unfortunately, like most of you, I have often heard renowned Latinos give public speeches about the importance of pulling up those who follow in their footsteps—then seen them turn around and cut the rope when they are asked for help. A few days ago, I ran into one of those well positioned Latinos who I had personally heard saying that more diversity was needed in the newsroom. Only a few days earlier I had sent him an email asking for help introducing me to one of his producers and he had responded with a suggestion that was not particularly helpful. When we met, he said ‘hello’ from a distance of only five feet and then turned and walked away as I was opening my mouth to follow up on our email exchange. The introduction I was hoping for wasn’t going to happen.

I know the world doesn’t revolve around me and my agenda. That people are protective of their connections and their turf. That many are overworked, understaffed and underpaid. That most high ranking Latinos receive an overwhelming amount of requests that they cannot possibly fulfill, and that these requests often come from people who are not the right candidates for the help they are seeking.

But nobody builds a successful career alone. No matter how smart you are, all successful careers are built upon a large, strong network, and with the help of sponsors who at some point champion you as the right candidate for that awesome opportunity. So, why do people find it so hard to help others who are respected professionals in their fields when they reach the pinnacle of their careers, and it’s within their power to do so? Why is it so difficult to put in a good word on behalf of a fellow professional with an impeccable reputation?

I can’t help question people’s motives. Whenever any one of us resists opening a door, we are shrinking the pie instead of expanding it for all of us. You may do it because you are one of very few Latinos in your company and you don’t want others to perceive you as an activist. You may do it because you don’t want your bosses to think your personal network is mainly Hispanic. You may do it because you fear that if other Latinos walk in they may take something away from you. Whatever the reason, in the end you are hurting yourself, too.

The truth is that if you have to protect yourself in such a way, it probably means you’re not as indispensable as you think. Or you are the “token Latino” in the wrong company and eventually they will get rid of you, too. Whatever the reasons for your protectionism, they are likely to backfire. In practical terms, you are putting up a stumbling block for all Hispanics trying to move into circles of power, something that in the end affects all of us. Because as long as we continue to have such poor representation at executive levels in the private and public sectors of this country, the Hispanic community will continue to be discounted. We don’t need one leader. We need many leaders who can carry the very diverse voices of this community.

So, while you’re busy making sure nobody else climbs the ladder next to you, you are missing the chance of a lifetime: to become the power broker for every Latino and Latina of high caliber. To create a legacy of leadership beyond your own and be remembered as someone who helped set the stage for a new conversation in this wonderful country of ours.

An earlier version of this column appeared on Fox News Latino on July 27, 2011 under a different title.

Latinos: No Power Other than “Purchasing Power”?

Friday, August 5th, 2011

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In my Op Ed about the lack of Latinas on the list of “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” published by Crain’s New York Business, I suggested the culprit for the blatant absence might simply be the homogenous network of the editors. Namely, not knowing people beyond their own circle of Anglo Saxon women from which to draw candidates. Some readers quickly suggested the creation of a list of the “50 Most Powerful Latinas,” something that in one form or another already exists thanks to the compilations put together by publications such as Latina Style, Hispanic Business, Working Mother Media, etc.

Besides, the whole point of my column was to suggest that we stop thinking of each other as belonging in one bucket or another and get us to start thinking of people who impact and influence society at large. The purpose of pointing out that there were no Latinas (and very little diverse talent) on the list that inspired the post wasn’t to segregate Latinos into a separate cluster but to integrate us into the group portrayed as powerful.

You may think that I’m blowing the importance of these lists out of proportion – That they are frivolous and that “nobody really cares about them.” To me, however, they reflect who we consider influential in our culture and who determines who is influential.

And besides, for the people who make the cut, there’s a boatload of free publicity, and their visibility coefficient shoots up substantially bringing along a series of other subtle and perhaps subliminal side effects like credibility, employability and overall power.

Power brokers trade in circles with other power brokers. So, if you’re not featured on those lists and you think you are a leader, doesn’t your consistent absence imply that maybe you are not so powerful?

Now, there is something to be said in terms of our own responsibility as Latinos in all this. We, as a plural, multi-national community with various degrees of acculturation, need to step up to the plate.

If for years you’ve been hiding your background from your employers and colleagues so that you wouldn’t be pigeonholed, you need to reconsider the implications of staying in the shadows as a Latino. Now that U.S. Census figures are forcing everyone to understand Latinos as consumers and develop a more inclusive workforce, you might actually be missing out on leveraging your cultural insights and standing out as a leader.

On the other hand, if you spend most of your time attending Hispanic events and notice that you have few non-Latinos in your network, you may want to sign up for some general market conferences where you can mingle with people who navigate in different circles than you. This healthy interaction will eventually result in more Anglo-Americans becoming more aware of the kind of work you do and how relevant you are in your industry. As you forge these relationships, they will hopefully lead to invitations to attend powerful events, present at general market conferences, join VIP committees and volunteer in beloved charities.

The point is, if we stay in a silo it’s harder for others to find us. Regardless of your level of influence, the only way to make it known more broadly is to transcend your own circle, and for that you will have to get out of your comfort zone.*

*This column first appeared in AOL Noticias 11.7.11

The power of social media to move the needle on diversity and inclusion

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

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After two weeks of writing Op Eds and blogs on why there weren’t any Latinas listed on Crain’s New York list of Most Powerful Women of New York, after appearing on Café CNN, Notimujer, NY1 “Pura Política” and just when I began to think that it would take a very long time to change things, something magical happened.

I got an email from Danielle Kwateng, Editorial Assistant at Glamour magazine, who read my Seriously Crains? No Powerful Latinas in New York? Op Ed and asked me if I could nominate a few downright fabulous Latinas under 25 to be honored in a group of 21 women across the country. She thought that through Latinos in College I was sure to be connected with lots of women who would be a perfect fit.

I was ecstatic. It meant someone was listening and was ready to take action. Someone “got it” and understood that if you want more diversity in the lists you are creating you just have to reach out to circles of people who are different from the ones you usually draw your talent from and ask for help. That there is no lack of Latino leaders in this country. There’s a lack of awareness by non-Latinos of who the leaders are.

Danielle’s email also proves the power of social media to move the needle on diversity and inclusion. It is only through the large number of people who shared with their networks the columns and blogs I wrote on this topic that the right person read the piece and acted on it. It proves that when we raise our voices and work collaboratively to help each other we can achieve great feats in a relatively short time.

Here’s to all of you who have helped get this message out and who continue to do so day in and day out. This is only the beginning. Cheers!

No powerful Latinas in New York City. Seriously?

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

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During the last few months I’ve been sending letters to the editors of general market publications such as Time magazine and Crain’s New York Business complaining of the fact that there are either too few or no Latinos at all in the lists they love to put together. Whether it Time’s Most Influential People or Crain’s “40 under 40″ or “50 Most Powerful Women”, there’s a worrisome absence of Latino leaders in these lists. Is this because there are no Latino leaders? No entrepreneurs under 40? No powerful women in New York? No. It’s likely because the committees that nominate and select the winners are not diverse enough. They make recommendations based on who they know and they ask their own network to suggest others that they know, perpetuating the nomination and selection of the same kind of people. If you look at this week’s 50 Most Influential Women list, you’ll see that it is a white girls club.

Why is this important? Because visibility breeds more visibility and opportunities. It also perpetuates the perception that there are no Latino and Latina leaders out there, nobody worth mentioning in a general market list. And what’s worse, no inspiration for our younger generation. If they don’t see diversity in the higher ranks, how are they expected to believe there’s a path for them?

I’m not saying that Latinos are not being honored in lists by Diversity Inc.magazine, Hispanic Business and Latina Style magazine amongst others. But Latinos and diverse talent in general should be featured alongside white talent if we are going to continue making inroads at the higher levels of society. So, here’s the letter that I sent to Crain’s New York Business. Feel free to use it as a template to create your own letters and send them to all the publications and media outlets that don’t realize that Latinos are more than just 50.4 million consumers of their advertisers’ products. We are powerful, we are leading companies and industries and contributing enormously to the growth of this country.

Letter to the Editor, Crain’s New York Business,

I was thrilled to see that you decided to publish again the “50 Most Powerful Women” list to highlight the great accomplishment of women in New York City. They are an inspiring, accomplished group of professionals who prove that women make great leaders.

As I went through the list though (just as when I go through all of your lists), I noticed that it really only features the “white girls club.” With the exception of one African American (Edith Cooper), one Chinese American (Andrea Jung) and one Indian born American (Indra Nooyi) there is little diversity in this list and there’s a blatant absence of Latinas.

Maybe you haven’t heard of Mónica Lozano, CEO of Impremedia (just named by Adweek Magazine one of the 10 Most Influential Executives in U.S. Hispanic Media), Jacqueline Hernández, Chief Operating Officer Telemundo; Ruth Gaviria, Senior Vice President Marketing Univision; Lucía Ballas-Traynor, recently named co-founder of Cafemom’s Hispanic site and former publisher of People en Español; Lisa Quiroz, Senior Vice President- Corporate Responsibility Time Warner; Galina Espinoza, co-President Latina Media Ventures (which publishes Latina Magazine), Ana Duarte McCarthy, Chief Diversity Officer Citigroup, Jessica K. Asencio, Chief Administrative Officer Investment Bank JPMorgan Chase; Enedina Vega, Publisher Multicultural Ventures Meredith, and many, many others.

As you must know, according to the U.S. Census there are now 50.4 million Hispanics in this country and this group was responsible for 50% of the population growth during the past decade. As a loyal reader of Crain’s New York Business, I can’t help but wonder why your magazine so seldom covers positive stories about this community and seldom (if ever) features Hispanic entrepreneurs and executives.

With one out of every four people under 18 in the U.S. being Hispanic, this population is not only where consumer growth is today but also the workforce of the future. Something both your magazine and your readers need to start giving serious consideration.

Cordially,

Mariela Dabbah
Author Latinos in College: Your Guide to Success, co-author The Latino Advantage in the Workplace and several other books on success for Latinos.

Do Latinas dress too sexy for their own good?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

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    In a recent post on the Latinos in College Facebook page we asked if Latinas dress too sexy for the workforce or for a professional environment. It was interesting to read our fans reactions. Here’s a sample:
    “We have curvy figures and everything just looks great on us!” – Carmen Guerrero“

    “I think we just have great taste and “consequently” what we choose to wear accentuates our bodies… I mean when I watch Good Morning America on NBC and Despierta America on Univision I’m like there is no comparison. Latinos are looking fresh all the time.” Faustino Hernanez

    “I think it’s just the shape of our bodies. I can wear something really baggy and you can still see my curves.” Vikki.

    Yes, Latinas tend to be curvier and pay more attention to their appearance. (Full disclosure: I wore lipstick to the ER a few weeks back!) But that doesn’t mean that they are always dressing appropriately when it comes to the workplace or any professional environment. This is true not just for Latinas but for many young ladies who have some difficulties distinguishing what kind of clothes to wear for different occasions. If you don’t have female role models who work in a professional setting, it can be a challenge to figure it all out on your own.

    Here are a few pointers that might help.

  • 1. Use the heavy makeup for a night out. For a job interview, an internship or a professional conference, try a more discreet do. The same goes for your accessories. The principle here is “less is more.”
  • 2. Skirts should be to your knees or below. Not above. Favor those that are not too tight so that the shape of your butt doesn’t become part of the conversation once you walk away. Choose skirts that are either a solid color or subtle prints. And fabrics that are not see through or lacey.
  • 3. Blouses or shirts should not show cleavage, they should fit you nicely but not too snuggly. Again, choose solids over busy prints and favor fabrics that are not see through, shiny, or have inscriptions. Do you really want a contact who could be your future boss read: “You say bitch like is a bad thing” printed on the back of your shirt?
  • 4. Wear a bra even when you don’t need one.
  • 5. Wear stockings whenever possible. Even in 2011 bear legs are still too informal for most professional environments.
  • 6. Choose your shoes carefully. You want to wear pumps with a regular heel (about 3 inches.) We all know you’ll be on the next season of Dancing with the Stars, but for this occasion, it’s better to leave your dancing shoes at home.
  • 7. If you wear a pant-suit (or pants and a jacket), chose slacks that are not stretchy and this includes any clothes you’d use to exercise, or go on a stroll with your mom on a Sunday morning. No thighs, no leggings, no palazzo made of stretchy cotton, or velour, no sweatpants, you get the picture.
  • 8. If you look awesome in a dress with a jacket, go for it! Nobody said you had to wear a suit. As long as the dress is not a little tiny summery thing, with spaghetti straps… Then we’re back to: leave it in your closet for that date you have coming up next weekend.
  • 9. And while we are talking about pasta, no tops with spaghetti straps that adhere to your body like a suede glove.

    The secret is to embrace your figure, find clothes that fit well but not too tightly, that highlight your best features and make you look elegant and project the image of a leader. When I have to dress for a business meeting, I always find a way to show my personality, either with some unique accessories, or wearing an unusual jacket that still looks professional.

    It’s not only about feeling confident and great in the clothes you choose, it’s also about what others perceive when they see you. So, when you look at yourself in the mirror ask yourself: “If a woman came to me looking like this, would I trust her to lead others? Would I assign her responsibilities? Would I coach her to grow in the company because I see potential in her?” These questions will help you look at your appearance differently.

    In an increasingly diversified workplace, it is to be expected that eventually, people will be more open to Latinas flashier style, but this shift hasn’t happened yet, so if you want to have as many opportunities open to you as you deserve, you will have to do some adjusting. I’m not suggesting that you become someone you are not. Only that you don’t let your clothes do all the talking before you even open your mouth and let the world know how smart you are.

Are you about to commit honesticide?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Mafalda, a character created by Argentine cartoonist Quino, known to be brutally honest

Mafalda, a character created by Argentine cartoonist Quino, known to be brutally honest


At a recent panel during the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) conference in Denver, a participating journalist asked what suggestions we had regarding how to talk about yourself when you first meet someone who could be a source or a prospective boss. “Should I just say whatever comes to mind? Should I just be me? Because I don’t want to pretend I’m someone I’m not…”

This is a question we all struggle with on an ongoing basis. When we meet someone new at a personal level, when we are interviewing for a job, and even in a well-established relationship with a partner, a friend, a work colleague or a boss. How much do you say about what you think at any given moment? How much do you filter?

Contrary to the most common advice that people give, namely that you should be yourself and say what you think, I believe we’ve been gifted with rationality and the ability to edit ourselves for a reason. In the context of building relationships, if the goal is to develop trust with someone, you don’t want to commit honesticide. That is, suicide by honesty. There’s little value in revealing details about yourself, your thoughts or your feelings if you know – or suspect—it will either hurt the other person or at the very least not go over well with them. There are things that, once said aloud, cannot be taken back no matter how much you apologize. Case in point, General Stanley McChrystal.
(And please understand that I’m not talking about standing up for what you believe even if it’s in disagreement with other team members.)

What happened to General McChrystal (losing his job following comments he made about the Obama administration to Rolling Stone magazine,) happens to ordinary citizens every day in a less splashy way. Think about it: Did you close the door during a job interview when you talked poorly about your former boss? Did you alienate a girlfriend when you told her that you couldn’t figure out what her hot boyfriend sees in her? Did you miss a promotion because you friended your boss on Facebook and kept posting your personal comments (“being yourself”) as if he/she weren’t there?

In any given situation, it is critical to trust your gut to tell you what information you need to convey and what is actually TMI. Sometimes not saying something will get you in trouble, and at other times the opposite is true. I’m not suggesting that you lie about who you are or pretend to be someone you’re not. Believe me, your identity will not suffer if you forgo telling your new acquaintance that you are wearing pink underwear for good luck.

In a world where we’ve all become voyeurs and where we share way too much through our social networks, the risk of committing honesticide is ever present. Just keep in mind that being completely honest all of the time is not only impossible (as an observer of the world you only have part of the truth) but more importantly it is also overrated.

Everything impacts your image

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
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Sometimes it’s hard to control every detail of your professional life: how you dress and communicate, your work ethic, your friends, the way you execute a project… Because the truth is that everything you do and even what you don’t do has an impact on your image.

Take for example a conference I attended this week. (I’m not going to say its name, hoping the organizers learn from the feedback and, either substantially improve the event next year or forget about the conference altogether.)

I signed up (and paid) mainly because of the keynote speaker. Yet, when I arrived (first at the wrong destination because the publicity materials were not clear) I was informed that the speaker had been canceled. “He wasn’t well known by the Latinos who were attending and he charged a lot of money so we decided to use the money to attract more people to come to the conference,” I was told by the organizer. I was furious and disappointed. It had been a very difficult morning for me and I had made the effort to attend because I wanted to hear the now-canceled-keynote speaker.

The conference was supposed to start at 9:00 but it didn’t get started until 10:00 and then they kept changing the workshops that were being offered and the rooms where they would take place. Even the host didn’t seem to have a script for the conference to flow smoothly.

In addition, the luncheon speaker was a Latino comedian. He was funny, sure, and I love a good belly laugh, but the truth is that this was an all day professional conference for which all of the attendees had sacrificed time at work and many had traveled from across the country. Instead of perpetuating the stereotype that Latinos are only about having fun, providing some solid content would’ve been a much better idea.

So, even though the topic of the conference was very relevant, the poor execution impacted the image of the organizers. It not only said something about their lack of professionalism but it also said something about how they viewed the audience. It told participants that, at some level, the organizers believed that because the audience was mainly Latino, they would be patient with the fact that the program was running an hour late, or with the various changes, or with the level of informality or with a canceled keynote speaker.

Making these kinds of assumptions can really hurt your image and your relationship with others. So here’s my advice: whatever you do, do it professionally or don’t do it. And keep in mind that informality is a trait many Latinos share but that it will get in the way of your career development in the American market. In addition, treating people with respect should always be a top priority.

Uncover your Latinoness

Thursday, September 24th, 2009
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The other day, after I gave a presentation about using your Latino traits to your advantage, a young female attendee asked me: “How can I advance in my career leveraging my Latino traits while avoiding the stereotypes?” It was a great question around a topic faced by many people who are second or third generation Latino and by those who have spent many years in this country and have learned to navigate the system well.

The tendency is to become overly assimilated and to forget where your roots are to the point where you may miss great opportunities to leverage that background to your benefit. This young lady avoided at all cost taking on assignments in Latin America or serving the Hispanic market as she believed, as many people do, that taking these kinds of assignments might pigeonhole her. And although this may be a good strategy at the beginning of your career, once you’ve proven your worth, you may want to reconsider it.

There are many Latino values that you should tap into. Having been raised by a Latino family has exposed you to certain experiences, world view and set of values that can be very useful in today’s marketplace. Finding out what they are and bringing them to the surface is the first step to leveraging their power.

So for instance, coming from an area of the world that experiences change constantly, your parents and grandparents grew up learning how to adapt. For them, the only way to survive involved creating alternatives to the way in which they conducted business or to how they managed their daily lives.

They instilled these skills in you, even if you didn’t realize it and in great part, you owe to your upbringing the ability to solve problems, the fact that you think fast on your feet, can change direction in a split second and can do several jobs with equal ease.

Your goal should be to communicate those unique skills as part of your value proposition to your bosses or prospective employers. That not only are you great at what you do, but on top of that, you have all of these Latino traits that will benefit the company. By aligning your value proposition to the company’s bottom line you have a much better chance to land a plum assignment or that coveted job.

Interships available

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

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Are you a high school senior or college student looking for an internship? Get involved with the Latinos in College initiative!

I have recently helped launch this nationwide public awareness campaign to help increase the number of Latinos/Hispanics who graduate from college. Yes, it’s not just about getting into a university but graduating with a four year degree. And although right now there are opportunities out there for people with great technical skills and lots of experience, keep in mind that the unemployment rate for people without a college degree is three times higher than for people with a college degree.

So, here’s a great opportunity: Latinos in College is looking for interns to help us with Internet marketing. What does it mean? That you’ll be using Internet tools to make other students aware of our initiative and website. You’ll be using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and all the other Social Networking sites to drive traffic to our site.

We are looking for a team of committed students. Here’s how you’ll benefit:

  • You’ll be in touch with experts in various industries who can open doors for you now and in the future
  • You’ll gain experience in a critical field that will give you an edge when you look for a job
  • You’ll have a wonderful internship experience to add to your resume
  • You’ll be in touch with other students with a Latino background who can support you in your own path to college

    We are looking for people who:

  • Are high school seniors, college students and recent college grads
  • Are very well versed in Social Networking tools and on how the Internet works
  • Are motivated, self directed and enthusiastic about education
  • Are interested in developing their leadership skills
  • Are interested in helping other Hispanic students

    Although this is an unpaid internship, you may be able to get college credits for it. Check with your school.

    If you are interested in becoming a part of this exciting initiative, contact us today at: mariela@latinosincollege.com

  • Gaining Visibility for Career Advancement

    Friday, October 31st, 2008

    One of the secrets to advance in your career is to gain visibility. How do you accomplish this? There are lots of strategies that will make the right people notice you for the right reasons. One of them is by attending conferences and networking with presenters and attendees alike, or even better, by participating as a speaker so everyone notices you. While you are at a conference, don’t forget to ask questions. Watch this short video for more on that.