While Hispanic Americans have contributed greatly to the growth and culture of the United States, Hispanic women have historically been underrepresented in many areas — including business careers. As CEO of Forté, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing women in business, this is especially top of mind during Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15).
We hear it all the time, but it’s worth repeating: Diversity is important. Diverse leadership teams consistently outperform the competition, and cultivating a diverse network of peers can be equally valuable on an individual level. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I asked a few Hispanic women leaders in Forté’s network to share how cultivating a diverse community has benefited them personally and/or professionally. Here’s what they had to say:
“Diversity encourages us to challenge and refine our beliefs and assumptions, creating stronger senses of self, communities, and institutions. Coming from a large, diverse Mexican-American family of humble means, I naturally learned how to share space with and listen to others, and understand that not everyone will think or act like me — incredibly important lessons for reaching my personal and professional goals. Today, living in between cultures continues to cultivate my empathy not only with others, but for myself, allowing me to know myself better, draw appropriate boundaries, and thus show up better in all facets of my life.” – Amanda Villarreal, Design and Innovation at a Fortune 100 company in New York City
“Being surrounded by a diverse community that is inclusive and empowered by workplace systems, processes, and teams has been a game changer. My growth became exponential once I found a place where I can hear diverse voices, and where those voices are truly heard across the organization. A diverse community helps broaden perspectives, but organizations that are also inclusive remove barriers for equity and everyone’s growth.” – Mabel Gomes, Senior Communications Program Manager for the Windows Update team at Microsoft
“Each day, as a woman of color and a Latina in business, I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and paved a road for me to travel. It is now part of my mission to pave roads for the next generation of diverse talent from all walks of life. It is in this spirit that I founded PowHER Circle, an inclusive community of women who work together to inspire, support, and empower each other on their personal and professional journeys. With true diversity of thought, experience and perspective across an organization, we can better serve our businesses, communities and each other. In fact, everyone wins.” – Angelica Alam, Finance Transformation Program Manager, Facebook
“Diversity and inclusivity are core values of mine that I incorporate in both my personal and professional career. I feel I give the best of myself when I listen and learn from diverse viewpoints — whether they be religious, political, cultural, or health-related. The current COVID pandemic and recent election shine a big light on the negating impact of exclusivity and one-sided opinions. I learned early on that to be an effective leader you must first learn to follow others. I have much to learn from people who don’t look, speak, or think like me. And I am a better human when I make these individuals part of my community.” – Evelyn Gallego, MBA, MPH, CPHIMS, CEO and Founder, EMI Advisors LLC
“A diverse customer and employee base are requirements for us to continue to grow. Personally, surrounding myself by talented diverse leaders has allowed me to expand my growth and learning opportunities in a nurturing and welcoming environment.” – Xochitl A. Leon, Head of Talent Acquisition National Partnerships and Programs, Wells Fargo
“After embarking on a new life journey by moving away from Colombia to live in New York post-MBA, I became part of a diverse community of lifelong friends from all over the world, which I now call my extended family. Our community evolves together through shared experiences and learning from each other’s perspectives. Embracing diversity has empowered me to stay true to each of the many layers of my identity while staying open to learn and grow from the breadth of experiences and individuals I interact with every day.” – Maria Osorio, Vice President, PIMCO
At Forté, we work hard to ensure diversity among staff and to ensure all viewpoints are heard and respected. It’s inspiring to see the power of a diverse leadership team in action — and a reminder that success starts with different people with diverse viewpoints. We all bring something to the table.
If you are an African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, and/or Native American women interested in getting your MBA, I invite you to join Forté on Nov. 4 for Diversity Day. This free symposium will connect you with other motivated women and mission-aligned companies, and show you how an MBA can help you rise up in the business world.