To celebrate Latinx Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), the Ad Council’s Mosaic employee resource group (ERG) for employees of color hosted their first-ever event, featuring a panel and pop-up shop of Latinx artists.
The panel, titled “Yo Soy: A Conversation of On What Latinx Representation Means Today,” featured media and advertising professionals as well as activists in the Latinx community, namely Ashlea Ramirez, Engagement and Inclusion Manager at Droga5 and Co-Founder of Women Who Create, Janel Martinez, Marketing/Social Media Strategist and Founder of “Ain’t I Latina?,” Angy Rivera, Co-Executive Director/Immigration Activist at New York State Youth Leadership Council and Jesus Trivino, Senior Director of Latin Content at Tidal.
These four Latinx powerhouses shared their insights and personal stories on how Latinx representation has shaped or challenged their identity as well as their career paths. Read on to find some of the best advice that came from this impactful conversation.
1. “You don’t need to hide who you are to take up space.”
Many employees who come from marginalized identities can feel pressure to assimilate to predominantly white, hetero and cisgender normative office cultures and norms in order to be taken seriously or heard by leadership. Angy Rivera, an immigration activist, encouraged the members of the audience to bring their entire selves to the table in their positions. In the panel, she talked about how being open with her experience as an undocumented immigrant has paved the way for more people like her to stand up and raise their voice so that these stories can be told authentically. These same stories need to be heard in office conference rooms and industry conversations for them to eventually create change.
2. “Use your identity as an asset to make a lane for yourself.”
While there are many conversations about diversity and inclusion, it’s unfortunately rare when these conversations are inclusive of diverse voices. Janel Martinez, founder of “Ain’t I Latina” and Afro-Latinx cultural expert, has been actively standing up against this standard—when she saw that no one was telling the stories of Black Latinx people, she made it a point to write and elevate those stories in her work and beyond. The best way to stand out is by bringing to light a perspective no one’s ever considered before.
3. “Let go of the feeling that you’re lucky to be in the room.”
Imposter syndrome often keeps many people from feeling like they have enough experience or knowledge to speak up in important decision-making conversations at work. They might also feel like they don’t deserve to be in their position or they’re only there because of their race, ethnicity or any other marginalized identity. As Ashlea Ramirez advised, it’s necessary to check those feelings at the door before you enter your office in order to perform at your best self.
4. Don’t be a jerk—your reputation follows you everywhere.
While the cities we live in and even the industries we work in may feel larger than life, there are small things that remind us exactly how tight knit these communities are. Jesus Trivino cautioned that one negative incident is all it takes for your reputation to be tarnished forever. Make sure that you treat everyone, from the front desk person to the CEO, with the utmost respect and that your work on every project, no matter how big or small, reflects your work ethic.