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Talk at the HACR Leadership Pipeline Program.
Latina Breaking Barriers panel at HACR Leadership Pipeline Program. Photo: Screenshot.

Latinas in Corporate America: Breaking down barriers and empowering "Latinidad"

An inspiring talk by 3 successful Hispanic leaders who highlighted the importance of being authentic took place during the 2022 HACR Leadership Pipeline Program

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Led by Karina Diehl, founder of KJD Consulting, a firm that helps clients communicate and connect effectively with audiences through community engagement and public relations, this gathering brought together three diverse leaders to talk about their different experiences as Latinas in leadership roles at the corporate level.

Yamilet Rodríguez, Bank of America Preferred Loan Performance Executive; Myriam Del Angel, a bilingual human resources professional with 20 years of experience who has worked for companies such as Microsoft, Accenture and Deloitte; and Michelle Rosas Stull, Finance and Budget Manager at PGA of America and a proud Latina who works in the golf industry, were the special guests.

In addition to sharing their particular views on the journey they have had to be where they are today, each also noted the importance of Hispanics raising their voices in boardrooms and opening more doors for others to access these leadership roles.

Changing Perceptions

Highlighting how each company has different perceptions regarding the role of women in leadership positions, especially those who are also part of diverse communities, these Latina leaders agree on the importance of bringing to the company the entire set of values and each of the elements of their personalities, especially their Latino identity.

Contrary to what they thought before when they were the first and the only ones in those directories, and felt that it was not correct to express what made them unique and culturally relevant for companies, Latinas and Latinos are now being sought to raise their voices and openly raise their concerns and contributions, because they are not there just to fulfill a requirement or to serve as a witness.

Seek Help and Offer Help

For Latinas to continue breaking down barriers, the panelists highlight the importance of having someone experienced to advise them and help them make the tough decisions while encouraging them to pursue their career goals, especially if it's another Hispanic leader, someone who understands the particular idiosyncrasy and someone with whom they can identify.

“I am the first person in my family to work in corporate America. I had no references and everything was new to me,” said Rodríguez, referring to the importance of having culturally close references with whom the new leaders can identify in order to continue strengthening their careers.

“If I can see someone like me succeeding, making their voice heard, I will do the same,” Rodríguez added, while stressing the importance of continuing to pave the way for those who follow.

Mentorships and Sponsorships

Taking into account that mentoring is when we look for a mentor for advice, and that sponsorship is something we offer or receive to support someone and ally ourselves with their personal brand, the panelists pointed out the need to have different mentors, at different stages of our careers, that offer a guide and empower us to lead and overcome the challenges that arise at a professional level.

“You have to find a way to stand out and find the mentors on the board so that someone takes an interest in sponsoring us. Likewise, it is important and valuable to share, help others to grow and find their own voice,” said Del Ángel.

The guests, who highlighted the value of Hispanics in adapting to and respecting other cultures, also alluded to the impostor syndrome and the shyness that culturally accompanies them as a self-imposed obstacle that should be left out of the board of directors, allowing others to value their idiosyncrasies.

"In addition to managing in an integrated manner the different values of business work, such as punctuality, loyalty, among others, it is important to advocate for yourself, raise your voice, participate and promote yourself," Rodríguez stressed, emphasizing that, especially in corporate leadership settings, they cannot afford to assume a bystander role when organizations have given them spaces to make their voices heard.

Karina Diehl, founder of KJD Consulting, led the talk. Photo: Screenshot.
Karina Diehl, founder of KJD Consulting, led the talk. Photo: Screenshot. 

Family Brand and Latinidad

Without wanting to say that private life should be mixed with professional life, the guests emphasized the family values that have allowed them to be respected and outstanding leaders.

“Those things that we learn with our families, the struggles that we have growing up, help us in the company. They have taught me to be recursive, to push barriers, to break stereotypes,” Rosas Stull said.

For her part, Del Ángel said:

I learned with my family relationships to be a problem fixer. I went from being a survivor to now being a driver and someone who leads.

“The values acquired at home are strengths and not something that prevents us from succeeding. Each of the things that are part of you are necessary. Sometimes we hold back and it's something we have to stop. It is important to bring to the board everything that we are,” pointed out Rodríguez.

Finally, the importance of being authentic and wearing Latinity with pride was highlighted, thus making potential allies visible at the table and extolling the strengths and talent that the Hispanic workforce has.

Also, after establishing the need for self-promotion and raising their voices, Del Ángel suggests doing it with true facts, avoiding falling into exaggerations and bragging.

“Many organizations are waiting for their Latino talent to speak up. It would be wrong not to bring everything we are to the table, because this is what corporations need,” concluded Rodríguez.

To learn more about the HACR Leadership Pipeline Program, click here

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