Is being a Latina in corporate America a disadvantage? On the surface, it may seem we have the decks stacked against us since childhood. We may have had doors closed on us (or never even open) because of an accent, prejudices against women (particularly of color), or limited education opportunities. We could be guilty of never even knocking on the door based on limiting beliefs we grew up with and treated as our truth. And worse-yet, perhaps our own well-intentioned families didn’t teach us there were even doors to be knocked on, let alone be opened because they truly didn’t even realize these were something our community was even entitled to.
There’s also another subset of us whose families moved from their home country to one where there was more opportunity for them and their children. That may have come with its own challenges of expectations and pressure from family. We may have landed in schools or communities where we were noticeably different than everyone else, eating different food, speaking a different language at home… and leaving us to be desperate to be “just like everybody else.”
Whatever challenges we faced, we can choose to dwell on the adversities or we can leverage our Latina ADVANTAGE. Wait. What? How do we have an advantage over others? How does an advantage apply to us when we’ve grown up with the exact opposite of this?
Ironically, our advantage is actually the product of our adversity. Our need to feel accepted when we felt different also taught us to be inclusive of others. In a corporate environment, that may mean being particularly aware of the culture and time zone differences of colleagues from other countries.
Having to battle against stereotypes and prejudices has taught us resilience, self-advocacy and hard work. Essentially, as women of color, we have sometimes had to work twice as hard as everyone else in the room. Fair? No. Are we better for it? Actually, yes.
And what about the tough expectations and pressure from our family? Odds are they were likely also accompanied by loyalty, strong values, the ability to build valuable personal connections. And if our family instilled humility in us, perhaps we’ve also been more open to make lateral career moves. While lateral moves don’t always necessarily seem like growth, they actually help us build an even stronger foundation for our upward mobility because we have a better understanding and appreciation for different roles and business functions.
If we are mothers or caretakers, there are countless ways that our administrative, organizational, and leadership skills can be used in our career. We are able to bring even more value as individual contributors, team mates, and leaders.
Now, are our advantages always apparent to us? Not always. We often need mentors, advocates and partners to help us identify and leverage our advantage. This is precisely when a leadership coach can provide tremendous value. If you’d like to learn more, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org today.