In my experience, being a Latina in a workplace where the majority of employees are non-Latino professionals represents one of life’s challenges. And according to a recent LinkedIn research report, 50% of Latino professionals included in the data still feel that their place of work does not provide a nurturing environment for employees who look like them.
The struggle between assimilation and preserving our heritage creates added stress, contributing to the cycle of potential mental health problems. As a professional working in a non-Latino-dominated workplace, navigating cultural differences can lead to pressure for excellence, which could result in perfectionism and burnout. “Latinas have received the message that they have to work harder to prove their worth and that nothing short of perfection will be accepted by them. For Latinas, perfection is the baseline,” Patricia Arboleda, an executive coach, wrote for Hispanic Executive.
While I was fortunate enough to find a very inclusive company for my first corporate job in America, I still feared that my background was going to be too different to be included or belong there. These aspects lead me to dive deep into the importance of diversity and inclusion and share personal experiences to shed light on this phenomenon.
Nita Díaz, a Latina health and wellness content creator and copywriter, encourages others to seek the help of a culturally affirmative therapist “who’s informed about your heritage and how challenging it can be to navigate predominantly non-Latino spaces.” She further highlights the importance of preserving your well-being during any period of doubt or when facing challenges. “This will eliminate the burden of over-explaining or minimizing your experience while focusing on obtaining practical resources to manage distress, tame your perfectionist mindset, and prevent burnout.”
The Role of DEI in Supporting Latina Employees
According to Bain & Co, a global firm that provides management consulting services, less than 25% of Latinos say they “feel fully included at their workplaces,” while “around 70% of Latino workers indicate that inclusion is highly important for them in evaluating a prospective employer.”
I believe that companies need to understand how to approach workers and consumers from diverse backgrounds. This knowledge will ultimately offer a broader perspective on issues that a homogenous demographic may struggle to comprehend.
Díaz added that workplaces should build a “systemic mindfulness culture—an all-encompassing awareness of the present moment.” “Occasional events or meditation workshops won’t cut it. It must be a top-down, integrated way of thinking, doing, and being of the organization,” she said. Overall, it’s a mindset that integrates a balanced mix of behaviors that enhance growth opportunities, community, and company values.
Génesis Gutierrez, founder of Harness Magazine and author of Harness your Creativity stressed how important is to connect with other Latina professionals who have similar experiences and recommends not hesitate to communicate your needs and accomplishments:. “Your perspective can be an asset in the workplace,” she said. “Educate your colleagues about your culture, fostering a more inclusive and understanding environment. Organizations can recognize and celebrate cultural holidays as well, and actively support DEI initiatives within the organizational culture.”
Navigating Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles
As a woman in my 20s, I have experienced the grief of a diaspora. Being forced to leave my homeland and seeking cultural connections in an entirely different context has been a rollercoaster of emotions, to say the least. However, I have learned that self-compassion, setting achievable goals, and seeking support from networks have helped me stay grounded amidst the chaos. I have seen immense value in seeking support from a close-knit community that truly understands me, such as other Latino professionals working across the globe with whom I have formed connections through social media. I have also realized the significance of being courageous enough to express my feelings to others, no matter where they come from.
I deeply respect my current reality because as Latina professionals, we often share a common trait: We appreciate growth opportunities, despite our differences. While the journey has presented barriers, it has also illuminated the importance of finding balance (the magic word, as my therapist calls it). This experience isn’t solely mine; it echoes the journey of those individuals who are striving to balance their cultural authenticity with their work-related demands, as seen in the presented data and professional opinions.
My hope for workplaces is to keep evolving into nurturing ecosystems that honor diversity, champion authenticity, and cherish the individual stories and strengths each person brings. As we champion inclusivity and well-being, we pave the way for a future where everyone’s contributions are recognized.