Workplace offers resources, information and a spotlight for Latinas working in the corporate environment or for independent professionals.

LUCA founder Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, how the pandemic has impacted Latino college enrollment

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo is the founder of Latino U College Access (LUCA), a social impact nonprofit organization that helps Latino families with access to college. Born in Puerto Rico, Shirley is a first-generation college graduate herself, making the issue of college access for Latino students very close to her heart. 

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, founder, Latino U College Access (Photo Courtesy)

Through LUCA, Shirley helps to achieve educational equity and opportunity for Latino youth and empowers low-income first-generation Latino students on their journeys to and through college so that they can fulfill their potential.

In the fouth installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Shirley to discuss initiatives for the advancement of Latino students seeking higher education. 

How the pandemic has disproportionately affected Latino college enrollment

The pandemic has created additional hurdles for Latino students, whose families and communities have been disproportionately impacted. For many Latino students, their parents were the frontline workers, restaurant workers, or employees who lost their jobs. As a result, many students that were thinking or planning to go to college have had to make a change in their plans. 

According to LUCA, Latino enrollment in college and applications for financial aid has decreased in the last two years, dropping 20% in the fall of 2020 and about 6%, in the spring of 2021. Financial aid applications have gone down by 10%  and Latino youth are not going to college at the same rates that they were prior to the pandemic. These setbacks are motivating LUCA to continue its efforts in helping Latino students advance in their pursuits for higher education. 

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LUCA initiative programs to guide first-generation students through college

To help students and their families through the challenging process of college applications and beyond, LUCA’s three pillars of programs create a long-term path where students are supported for six years with access to resources and advocates as they navigate their journey through college. 

“When you’re first-gen, you have every desire and ambition to pursue your college education, but oftentimes you’re going through the process alone. Your families came to this country seeking an opportunity for themselves and for you, and as a first-gen student, you know that education is the path forward, especially here in America. However, when you’re first-gen, you don’t have the information, the resources, or the experience to understand and navigate this complex process of admissions and financial aid. And even once you get into college, you’re often feeling like you’re alone in that process. That’s why we stay with the students for this long period of time.”  

LUCA’s Community Information Sessions is one of its programs that help families understand and navigate the college application process. These hour-long presentations are conducted completely in Spanish and are culturally relevant, covering important topics such as Pathways to College, Applying to College, and Paying for College, followed by Q&A time so that families can get as much information as possible. 

“Since I launched the organization nine years ago, over 6000 parents and students have come to these presentations,” said Shirley. “When you welcome the Latino community in their language, and they know that this information was designed to be relevant to them, our families are thirsty for this and want this information.” 


The second pillar program LUCA offers is the Latino U Scholar program. This program provides intensive, one-on-one mentoring to students from the end of junior year through senior year of high school. To participate in this program, qualifying students are nominated by their guidance counselor to become a scholar in their junior year. Nominated students must demonstrate high academic potential with a 3.5 GPA or higher, be a low-income student, and demonstrate that they are the first in their family to go to college in the US. 

“We do have a lot of families whose parents maybe were college graduates in their native country, be it in South America or in the Caribbean, but because they cannot transfer those degrees here to the US they’re working as taxi drivers or housekeepers. So their children are still considered first-generation. The scholar’s program gives students one-on-one support in every step of the process,” said Shirley. 

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Finally, the third program LUCA offers is the First Gen Forward program, a success and career readiness program that supports students in the transition to college, adapting to college, and helping students remain in school so they graduate on time. The program provides mentorship and resources for first-generation students as they move through their four years of college. The program also helps students prepare for their future careers by providing resume writing workshops, interview prep, and matching students with internship opportunities. 

LUCA’s methods have proved to be successful. By continuing to support Latino students long-term, students have had higher rates of success and 99% of LUCA students remain on track to graduate. That number is significant because nationally, only 46% of students remain in college among the Latino community. 

“When you’re first-gen, getting into college is only the first half of the battle. Staying in college, graduating, and being ready for careers are the next stages. And many times, first-gen students will drop out of college in the first two years, not because of academics, but because of other social or financial issues. And so our goal is to make sure that our kids remain on track,” Shirley concluded. 

Esther Aguilera, LCDA

“We are being left behind” in the C-suite and boardroom says LCDA CEO Esther Aguilera

Esther Aguilera is the CEO of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA).  With 30 years of experience working in Washington, DC. Esther is passionate about elevating Latinxs to positions of power and preparing them for a seat at the table. 

Esther Aguilera, LCDA CEO (Photo courtesy LCDA)

LCDA serves as an advocate and resource to corporate boards, search firms, private equity, and institutional investors interested in gaining access to exceptional Latinx board talent.

In the second installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Esther about LCDA’s work in advancing Latinx visibility in C-level positions and company boards. 

“We are being left behind” in the C-suite and boardroom 

The Latino Corporate Directors Association became fully operational in 2016 and was founded by a pioneering group of Latino corporate directors, serving on publicly traded or large private company boards who had grown tired of the low number of Latinos in the boardroom. Search firms and companies were saying, “We can’t find qualified Latinos for the boardroom.” LCDA was established as a way to address this issue and increase the number of U.S. Latinos on corporate boards. 

Historically, Latinos are the least represented compared to any other group. Only 3% of the Fortune 1000 company board seats are held by Latinos, despite the large size of the U.S. Latino population.

“We are being left behind,” said Esther. “In fact, over the last 10 years, between 2010 and 2020, Latinos only gained 1%. We went from 2% of corporate board seats to 3%. Latinos and Latinas are invisible in the C-suite and the boardroom. For Latinas, it’s even smaller. Only about 1% of the public company board seats are held by Latinas. Yet, we are such a large and contributing sector, we have a long tradition of entrepreneurship and growing corporate business businesses nationwide.”

Visibility is the main challenge facing Latinas and Latinos aspiring for C-level positions and this is what LCDA is working to address through its programs and membership. One of the ways they are doing this is by growing the pool of Latino board-qualified candidates. 

“What we have done is focused on growing the supply. Our membership has tripled in the last couple of years and we are showcasing and bringing together qualified Latinos for the boardroom,” said Esther.  

By doing this, it takes away the excuse so many have used in the past, that they simply cannot find qualified Latinos for board positions. The Latino Corporate Directors Association brings together ample talent from corporate directors, current and former corporate CEOs, to C-suite and top executives in corporate America in a one-of-a-kind network that has never existed for the Latino community before. 

“We have set it upon ourselves, so now that we have the talent pool, and the supply, we work directly with companies,” said Esther. “We’re writing to companies to say, there is ample talent, and we can help you find it. We work with companies, search firms, private equity, to tap that talent.” 

The LCDA’s efforts have made historic numbers this past year. In just the first six months of 2021, LCDA has, directly and indirectly, influenced 175 corporate board appointments, which is four times greater than last year’s 43 appointments. 

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Latinx workplace advancement opportunities 

Another challenge facing Latinx individuals in corporate America is access to advancement opportunities. 

Esther Aguilera, LCDA CEO, speaking at the 4th Annual LCDA Board Leaders Convening 2019 (Photo courtesy LCDA)

“I have a couple of stories working with some of our Latina executives and they shared with me some of the barriers that they have faced. One of them was approached by her HR person, and they said, ‘Here’s a job for you to consider, it pays a little more, etc.’ And she went to a mentor and said, ‘HR is steering me in this direction. What should I be aware of?’ And her mentor said, ‘I’m so glad you came to me, that job is a dead-end job. It will take you maybe another step. But then there’s no opportunity for advancement there.’”

This story is one many Latinos and Latinas have faced before. They are presented with a seemingly great opportunity only to later discover the new position offers no room for further advancement. In the case of this particular woman’s story, the power of a good mentor helped steer her in the right direction to make the best choice for her career. 

In the LCDA’s network, mentorship and coaching from experienced directors helps advance aspiring executives as they pay it forward and prepare the next group of executives for the boardroom. 

LCDA, BoardReady Institute

The BoardReady Institute prepares executives for the boardroom. (Graphic Source)

One of the Association’s key programs is the BoardReady Institute, a unique and comprehensive program that prepares interested executives for boardroom positions. The program is comprised of four components. The first is a toolkit that helps executives prepare their board bio and practice their pitch. The second component is corporate governance and the third is all about the network and coaching. Finally, the fourth component is promoting the executives for board opportunities.

“Last year, we helped with about 105, board search requests. Today, we’re already at 200, and will likely help with about 300 by the end of the year. We get requests for certain skillsets for a board position and we sort through our membership and give them as many qualified people and work with them to make sure that we can connect them to board talent.” 

The work achieved so far by the Latino Corporate Directors Association shows that Latino advancement is not only possible but necessary. By increasing Latinx visibility in the C-suite and boardroom, corporate America has no more excuses for excluding Latino and Latinas from the table.

“We need to speak up about social justice” says Prospanica CEO Thomas Savino

Thomas Savino is the Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica, the nationally recognized and premier nonprofit dedicated to developing Hispanic talent and growing the number of Hispanic professionals represented in the industries of America to perpetuate economic growth and corporate competitiveness.

Recently Thomas spoke to Latinas in Business CEO and President, Susana G Baumann in an interview, where they discussed how Prospanica is working to address social justice issues through its new Center for Social Justice. 

Celebrating its one-year anniversary, the Center for Social Justice was established with the mission to  “improve our ability to have critical conversations about social justice issues as a diverse and multi-faceted community. We want to encourage civil discourse and make it easier and more available.” 

Three driving forces in the creations of the Center for Social Justice

Through the Center for Social Justice, Prospanica is taking an important step toward addressing the most pressing social issues affecting the Hispanic community today. 

Before the creation of the Center, Prospanica, like many organizations, steered clear of these topics. For a long time, corporations and organizations avoided conversations about divisive topics such as social justice issues. 

However, in recent years there has been a noticeable shift, especially in corporate America. Social issues are now at the forefront of every conversation. People want to know where the corporations and companies they trust stand on these issues. This shift is one of the three main drivers that lead to the creation of the Center.

“Corporate America is far different, say from 1988 than it is today. If we look at the conversations and the statements they’re making, and the efforts they’re making, the conversation is vastly different,” said Thomas. “And the way they’re trying to open and change their culture is far more compelling today than it was, frankly, even five years ago, right, let alone in 1990. There are all sorts of experts out there, corporate CEOs of Fortune 500 companies saying we must have a just society, and here are the issues….We see this all over the place and so that’s one key thing, that corporations who are key funders to everything we do have essentially changed where they are.” 

With corporations now opening up to having these conversations, came the need for education and training in how to have these conversations. This was the second key driver in the creation of the Center. 

“I think because we’ve never spoken about it, it’s a missing component of what we speak about as Prospanica. We want to promote education, but social justice issues impact the Hispanic community and how we get educated. They impact how you know, how we graduate, where we live, all those sorts of things. So it’s important to fold it in, it’s a missing piece of what we talked about when we want to work with safe young professionals doing professional development. So that’s the second piece we’ve never really addressed,” said Thomas. 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Lastly, the third driver was Generation Z and the events of the past year. From the pandemic to social unrest, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more, it became clear that there was a need in the community for these discussions and conversations surrounding social issues. 

Among all of this, Generation Z has been leading the way and pushing for action and impact. “What they’re saying is, you got to have an impact now. And so you got to address these things head-on,” Thomas said. “The younger people expect the corporations where they work and where they put their money to address these issues now.”  

Opening the conversation 

The Center for Social Justice was overwhelmingly well received. Still, there were some, particularly those of older generations, who questioned and challenged its purpose. For many, the issues that the Center would address were topics that older generations had been taught not to speak about. 

The first goal of the Center was born out of this reluctance to speak out. Part of the Center’s mission is to help teach and prepare members to speak about these subjects in a professional, non divisive manner. 

“We didn’t grow up learning to have these types of discussions,” said Thomas. “So this is a way of professional development, another way to teach our professionals wherever you go, you name it doesn’t matter what your politics are, you can speak about this in a professional, non-divisive manner. And then it’s a way for the organization as a whole to start researching these things and learn a lot more.” 

The Center for Social Justice combines research, dialogue, and training to educate and inform. Tackling social issues such as DACA and Immigration Reform, The Afro Latino Experience, Black Allyship, The Black Lives Matter Movement, Colorism in Latino History, and more the Center is committed to having open conversations about the issues affecting the Hispanic community today. 

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Only in their first year, the Center is still growing and building, with initiatives such as supporting the Hispanic Promise and opening scholarships up to DACA students, something they had previously never done before. Still, as a nonprofit organization, Prospanica remains cautious as they navigate political and social issues. Here is where the partnership with other organizations is key. 

“We’re still very careful with the political world. Well, one because listen, we’re not very experienced with that. And to the politicians can be tough. I’d rather go talk to my peers at Unidos U.S. and LULAC, for instance, and kind of get their take on it,” said Thomas. 

Through collaboration, dialogue, and partnership, the conversation continues as the Center works to address and educate professionals on these cultural social issues to create a better, more just, and diverse world for current and future generations. 

Employees are quitting in record numbers to start their own business

You may have heard about the “Great Resignation” in recent months, in which more and more employees are leaving their jobs in a mass exodus, no longer satisfied with their work. The movement has been brought on by a variety of factors according to a survey released last week by Digital.com. 

The survey cited many concerns that have influenced employees in their decisions to leave their jobs including desire for better pay/benefits (44%), focus on health (42%), finding a job they are passionate about (41%), and the desire to work from home indefinitely (37%). Additionally, one-third (32%) of respondents expressed the desire to start their own businesses and be their own boss. 

the great resignation,

The Great Resignation: Why employees are quitting in record numbers. (Map photo created by rawpixel.com on freepik)

Employees are reluctant to give up their “new normal”

COVID-19 pandemic completely changed our way of life and how we work and how work is valued. As we all adapted to the changes, many grew to enjoy the freedom of working from home

The pandemic showed us a different way of life, one where work could still be accomplished without being chained to a desk in a drab cubicle for eight hours a day. The flexibility of remote work is something many are not eager or willing to give up. Workers are prioritizing themselves more since the pandemic began, focusing on both their physical and mental health. As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, some worry about their health with the return to in-person work. Others are putting their mental health first, finding more joy in working from home. For these individuals, returning to the confinement of the office is a deal-breaker. From these concerns and desires, more and more employees have embraced The Great Resignation, finally putting themselves first and prioritizing their needs. 

In a Bloomberg article, one employee shared her story, in which a six-minute meeting drove her to quit her job. Portia Twidt, 33, said that this meeting was the last straw, “I had just had it,” she shared. 

The six-minute in-person meeting was one that could easily have been a remote video call. Instead, Twidt got dressed, left her two children at daycare, and drove to work just for a brief chat. 

In recent months, this scene has become more and more frequent as bosses attempt to return to the pre-pandemic “normal” and reign their workers back into the office. However, many employees are just not willing to go back to the inconvenient ways of years past. Remote work has allowed many to achieve a greater sense of work-life balance, spend more time with their families, and just feel better in general with the option of working from the comfort of their home, a park, or anywhere in the world. The Great Resignation has highlighted just how important these values are to employees who are now opting to quit their jobs rather than endure unsatisfactory conditions. 

remote work, working from home

Many are not willing to give up the comfort and convenience of remote work and their “new normal.” (Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

The Bloomberg article highlighted that a big part of the push to return to the office is due to the generational gap between bosses and employees. “There’s also the notion that some bosses, particularly those of a generation less familiar to remote work, are eager to regain tight control of their minions,” the article states. 

Twidt added, “They feel like we’re not working if they can’t see us. It’s a boomer power-play.”

Gen Z and millennials, being more tech-savvy and adaptable, are no longer interested in the old ways of working. In an article by CNBC, Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said, “Gen Z and millennials are the most mobile participants in the workforce for a number of reasons. They aren’t making as much money as their older, more senior counterparts, so they’re more eager to find higher-paid jobs, and they tend to be more technologically savvy, so they’re in a better position to take advantage of remote work opportunities.” 

“I want to be my own boss” 

Not only are younger employees interested in working from home indefinitely and increasing their pay and benefits, many are also turning toward entrepreneurship. 

According to the survey conducted by Digital.com, one-third of respondents revealed they are interested in starting their own business with 62% of those stating they want to “be their own boss.” Additionally, 60% state they are interested in starting their own business to “pursue an idea they are passionate about.” 

The Great Resignation is inspiring more and more people to start their own businesses. Photo by rawpixel.com – on freepik

The pandemic served as the perfect time for many aspiring entrepreneurs to work on making their dreams a reality. The survey found that 60% of aspiring business owners used their free time during the pandemic to educate themselves on starting a business. Others were able to use the stimulus money they received to help fund their ventures. 

Currently, the three main areas in which people are starting businesses is computer and information technology, retail, and personal care services. The key for many, is following their passion and doing something they love. 

industries new businesses

Infographics: Digital.com

Startup consultant and small business expert Dennis Consorte, said on Digital.com, “Many people believe that business ownership means setting your own hours and answering to no one. The truth is that for many business owners, a half-day is twelve hours, every single customer is your boss, and you have to hustle to stay afloat. However, by pursuing a passion, work won’t feel like work, but will instead give you purpose, which is far more valuable than the dollars earned.”

Consorte also highlighted the importance of having an online presence as a new business in 2021. The world has become increasingly more digital in the past year, so even “brick-and-mortar” shops need to consider their online presence as a crucial aspect of their business marketing. 

“New small business owners need to develop some kind of online presence. Social media is a good start, and a website will give you a lot more control over your database and marketing options” Consorte advised. 

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It’s unlikely that we will ever return to the pre-pandemic “normal.” The Great Resignation has shown that people are not willing to go back to the old ways. Our new normal is now one that is digital, remote, and independent. Employees have learned to value their time and labor. Others are venturing out on their own to follow their dreams. The pandemic helped put it all into focus and re-prioritize what is important: freedom, health, and financial stability.

teachers, latina teacher, students

3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges

Teresa Sosa, Associate Professor of Education, discusses the complex cultural challenges facing new teachers as she shares the stories of 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments.

Gun control. Hallway decorations. Hairstyles.

Those aren’t the things I expected to be stumbling blocks for three Latina educators that I helped prepare to become schoolteachers in recent years. But each situation came up in their classroom or in the course of their jobs at various elementary and middle schools in the state of Indiana, where I teach. Their situations are indicative of a time in our society when we are called to more closely pay attention to issues of racism and social justice.

I’m tracking these former students – along with three others – as part of a study I am doing on the first-year experiences of Latina teachers. As an educator who helps prepare future school teachers, I believe these experiences help shine light on some of the expectations that students, parents and school administrators might sometimes have of classroom teachers. Conversely, my research also shows some of the culturally dicey situations that schoolteachers may have to navigate once they get a classroom of their own.

teachers, latina teacher, students

Photo by Alena Darmel from Pexels

On a broader level, my research shows the complex interactions that can take place within schools with student bodies that are becoming increasingly diverse.

With that in mind, here are three examples based on the experiences of three former students of mine in their first year of teaching. All names in the following examples are pseudonyms.

Gun control

When Ms. Raymond, a sixth grade social studies teacher, discussed the Second Amendment, Mary, a white female student, expressed her view that Democrats wanted to take everyone’s guns away and that people needed guns in their home for protection.

Ms. Raymond clarified that some people want to see laws passed that make guns less accessible. That same day, Mary’s parents reached out to Ms. Raymond and insisted she meet with them in person. After Ms. Raymond refused to meet in person due to COVID-19 restrictions and her own sense of safety, the parents refused to meet via Zoom or discuss it over the telephone and instead explained their concerns via a messaging app the school uses for teachers and parents to communicate.

Mary’s parents claimed in their messages to Ms. Raymond that Mary felt Ms. Raymond is biased against her opinions and prevents her from stating them by not calling on her. They said Ms. Raymond should allow all students to speak their opinions, even if she doesn’t agree with them, which Ms. Raymond believes she does. They also insisted Ms. Raymond not speak to their child individually because she feels “threatened” by Ms. Raymond. They asked that the homeroom teacher, a white male teacher, be present during any further one-on-one interactions with Mary. The principal agreed that the student should be accommodated in order to make her feel more comfortable.

Ms. Raymond believes this is a move to undermine her position as a teacher. It also serves to uphold the stereotype of Latinas as being loud, hot-tempered and volatile, as indicated in the suggestion that she made the student feel “threatened.”

Hallway decorations

Ms. Sanchez teaches in a school district where the dual language program is prominently featured on the district’s website. And with good reason. The teachers in this program have gone above and beyond to make the students feel welcomed and part of the school community.

Behind the scenes, however, the principal told the teachers in the program – including Ms. Sanchez – that they couldn’t do certain activities, such as decorating the school hallways with student work, unless they involved the other teachers in the same grade level but who are not part of the program. This happened after those teachers – veteran white teachers – complained that they weren’t being invited to participate in dual language program activities. As a practical matter, Ms. Sanchez says this means the dual language program has to involve white teachers who know neither the students nor the program.

latina teachers,

Photo by Alena Darmel from Pexels

The irony of the situation, according to Ms. Sanchez, is that the non-Spanish-speaking teachers were always welcome to participate in the dual language program activities – they just didn’t want to stay after school to do it.

In effect, while the district promotes the dual language program on its website to create an image of diversity and inclusion, the dual language program in Ms. Sanchez’s school has little autonomy, and she feels it is subjected to white surveillance and control.

Hairstyles

During a sixth grade science lesson that was fully online due to the pandemic, several Black girls began to comment on the hair of a white student, Amy, because her hair was braided in small cornrows with beads, seemingly in emulation of a hairstyle typically worn by Black girls.

“Ms. Gonzales, do you think Amy is culturally appropriating right now?” one Black female student asked.

Rather than address the matter on the spot, Ms. Gonzales told her students that these types of conversations are important and that they would address it two days later.

teachers, student, online learning

Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

That day, Ms. Gonzales spoke with her team and the principal. Her team concluded that this is a conversation that obviously matters to their Black female students and that waiting two days to talk to them was too long. The principal agreed, adding that racial equality is a key part of their school and the only way to show students this is by hearing their voices.

She also spoke with Amy, the white student who explained that she just loved her friend’s braids and wanted to style her hair the same way, so she had her aunt do her hair. After watching a couple of videos and reading a book with Ms. Gonzales about Black hair, Amy came to realize how it could offend some of her Black peers. Ms. Gonzales also spoke with Amy’s mother, who was supportive and understood why Black students were offended.

Before getting into the full conversation of cultural appropriation, the class discussed what it meant to “pull people in” kindly to these kinds of conversations and not singling people out. Ms. Gonzales also discussed a bit of how Black women’s hair has been discriminated against, historically as well as in contemporary times.

She also brought in opinions from Black friends and colleagues on how they feel about white people wearing Black hairstyles, as well as Tik Tok videos of persons of color explaining why it’s cultural appropriation or not.

At the end of the meeting, which her mother also attended, Amy decided to make a statement which in part said, “I understand that I had my hair done and it offended some of my peers of color. I love the Black culture and I wanted to respect it. I didn’t know I would be offending the Black culture, and I thought I would be called out in a positive way and not a negative way.”

Ms. Gonzales said she received a lot of backlash from co-workers outside of her team who told her that having such conversations is wrong. Ms. Gonzales defends her actions, saying she sees it as important to provide a space where all students can voice their feelings and learn about issues such as cultural appropriation.

As these three accounts indicate, teachers in their first year of teaching must navigate various concerns – and sometimes concerns that conflict – among parents, students and administrators. Knowing this in advance can help teachers better prepare for the various cultural dilemmas they are likely to face in today’s classroom and beyond.The Conversation

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Written by Teresa Sosa, Associate Professor of Education, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

An example of Cloffice. Image by Haffele.

Cloffice: The latest work-from-home trend to transform your workspace

Home office has been a hot topic since March of 2020. Before, working from home was not always necessary and many got on just fine without a dedicated workspace. However, the rise of remote work in the past year has increased the demand for such a space. If you are one of the many longing for a personal workspace in your home, but think you do not have the room to accommodate such a space, let me introduce you to the cloffice. 

What is a cloffice?

A cloffice is essentially a closet transformed into an office space. This creative innovation is the perfect solution for those looking to have a dedicated workspace in their home but are tight on space. 

Many choose to transform guest bedroom closets or hall closets but you can even use a freestanding wardrobe such as in the photo below. 

cloffice, working from home,

Transform a freestanding wardrobe into your personal home office workspace. (Photo courtesy Häfele)

The cloffice is perfect for those who want a space separate from main living areas. The cloffice also allows you to hide your work from your daily life once you’re off the clock. Just close your closet doors to disconnect from work-life and get back into the groove of home-life. 

That disconnect is especially necessary nowadays as COVID-19 has forced us to blur the lines between our work-life-balance. According to an article by Forbes, having a dedicated workspace increases productivity and reduces temptations to indulge in other at-home distractions while working from home

Tips to build the cloffice of your dreams 

If you are struggling without a dedicated workspace at home, then hop on the trend! Below are some tips to help you transform your spare closet into the perfect, personal workspace to help you achieve more while working from home. 

cloffice, working from home,

Unleash your creativity and build your own personal cloffice. (Photo courtesy Häfele)

Furnishings

Most important, of course, is your desk and chair as these will be where you spend your working hours. A sturdy desk and an ergonomic chair will serve you best and keep you comfortable while you work, help you maintain good posture, and keep stubborn back-pain away. Another option is a standing desk which also has many benefits. Either way, choose furnishings that will best serve you. Make this space your own. 

Storage

In such a small space, storage is everything and every inch of space matters. Try not to clutter your workspace with large storage cabinets or containers. Keep it simple. Utilize shelves, built in closet storage, or small cubbies. If your goal is to be able to close your closet doors at the end of the workday, also be sure to keep all furnishings and storage compact. 

Electronics 

Electronics are another important area to consider. Your closet may not have outlets or plugs, but there are solutions. You can use extension cords and cable concealers to keep cables and wires tidy. Another solution for charging smaller electronics is to utilize USB charging ports. Once you have power running in your cloffice, add in your computer and other necessary electronics such as printers or scanners. 

Lighting 

Finally, consider your lighting source. Lighting is essential to productivity. Light can define your mood and impact your performance. Most closets do not have built-in light sources, so you will want to consider different solutions. You could add a desk-lamp, LED lights, or wall lights to your cloffice. Whichever option you choose, make sure it offers plenty of light so you can perform at your best. 

You might be interested: Is working remotely a pain? Tips to be more comfortable and productive

Once you have the essentials down, it’s time to decorate! Unleash your creativity and personalize your workspace. Add a touch of color or keep things minimal and go monochrome. The choice is yours. Remember, this space will be where you spend a bulk of your time during the workday, so make it a place that is inviting and positive. 

How translation services can help combat human trafficking

Translation services are a crucial tool for healthcare professionals in identifying and aiding victims of human trafficking. 

Healthcare providers may not realize they are a crucial partner in combating and preventing human trafficking, particularly during and after emergency events. Human trafficking affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. It is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand, like drugs or arms trafficking. In the United States alone, 50,000 persons are trafficked into the country every year, and there are approximately 400,000 domestic minors involved in trafficking. 

Health care providers are often the only professionals to interact with trafficking victims who are still in captivity. According to the Polaris Project, up to 88% of trafficking victims access health care during their trafficking situation. Health care providers are in a unique position to identify victims of trafficking and provide aid. 

unida translation, translation services,Below is an article from Latinas in Business Member, Ivana Sedia’s blog on how translation services can help healthcare professionals combat human trafficking. Ivana is the CEO and founder of Unida Translations, a translation company that delivers both spoken and written word translation services in over 125 languages for projects in the certified, legal, government, medical, and technical fields. 

You might be interested: Ivana Sedia is helping people connect and transcend borders through language translation services

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Many victims do not speak English, which makes translation services all the more  crucial. (Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels)

How Translation Services Can Help Healthcare Professionals Combat Human Trafficking

John, a 41-year-old male is brought to your walk-in clinic by his friend because he’s having trouble walking due to a nasty rash on his foot. Jane, a 19-year-old female arrives at your walk-in clinic about an hour later. She is brought in by her mother because Jane is suffering from intense stomach pain. Is John a patient or a victim of human trafficking? Is Jane a patient or another victim of human trafficking? There’s a decent chance that either or both are actually victims of human trafficking.

The good news is that your organization can actually do something to combat human trafficking. Did you know human trafficking is currently an extensive form of slavery throughout the United States? Victims of human trafficking can be of any gender, race, religion, or nationality. Human trafficking includes domestic labor, industrial labor, and farm labor. It also includes sex labor. In fact, over 85% of human trafficking victims in the United States are involved in the sex trade.

For many victims, the only opportunity to find help is when they see a healthcare professional. (Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels)

For many of these victims, the only opportunity to find help is when they see a healthcare professional. In essence, health care providers are often the only professionals to interact with trafficking victims who are still in captivity. The expert assessment and interview skills of providers contribute to their readiness to identify victims of trafficking. However, a great deal of the human trafficking victims do not speak English. That means your organization will need the help of a professional translation service to discover if the patient is truly a victim of human trafficking.

Effective communication between a patient and a healthcare professional is a much-needed tool. In fact, it can make the difference between helping free the victim or simply watching them walk out the door with their captor. If the patient has a companion who refuses to leave the examination room it’s a key red flag that something is wrong. If the companion insists on translating for the patient it’s another red flag that the patient may be a victim of human trafficking.

This is also a key area where a professional translation service can help. If the patient speaks a language that nobody else in the clinic speaks, the professional translation service can determine whether or not the patient’s companion is actually telling the truth. Ultimately, if the companion attempts to control the information during the examination, the patient may very well be a victim of human trafficking. Effective translation is the critical element to discovering that.


This article was originally published on Unida Translation’s blog.

Empathy in the workplace: The mark of a true leader

Empathy in the workplace is not only an important element of emotional intelligence, but also a skill that needs to be developed and practiced to enhance personal and professional leadership.

You may be familiar with one definition of empathy as “feeling someone else’s pain.” It is the idea that if someone is suffering, you are able to feel that person’s pain vicariously.

Empathy is also the ability to understand and share another person’s experiences, emotions and feelings, and not limited to sadness, pain or suffering. It is any and all feelings, even positive ones — to feel — in union with another person, regardless of whether they reflect your own situation or similar ones.

Developing the skill of empathy in the workplace is to work towards intentionally feeling the emotions of another as your own, and to express understanding and support. It is also about giving the gift of the moment by placing your own experiences, beliefs, feelings, emotions and relative situation on pause in order to honor the other person’s moment.

The fact that you may be feeling empathetic towards another person does not necessarily mean that person is feeling your empathy. Empathy needs to be expressed in order to be felt by the person who is experiencing the situation originally.

Empathy in the workplace is being recognized as a team building and leadership skill that improves team productivity, increases morale in the work force and even translates into more satisfied clients and customers.

Five tips to practice empathy in the workplace

Here are five simple tips you can develop, practice and enhance to improve your own process of honoring others with the gift of empathy.

1) Empathy is about the other person, and not about you.

Because empathy is a gift, in order to give it, you need to agree to put yourself and your own experiences on pause for a moment and let it be about the other person, and not about you.

If a colleague shares good news like: “I’m so happy about my second year-end review, it went really well and I also received a generous gift card for dinner at M’s Steakhouse!”

Your reaction needs to remain focused on the topic at hand. A non-empathetic response might sound like, “Oh, I just got a huge promotion, a pay increase and a trip to Hawaii for my twenty years of service”.

In this situation, you are missing an opportunity to give the gift of empathy by switching the focus to your own promotion. Your friend now feels compelled to honor your news, considered a longer achievement. Your friend’s joy will likely be diminished comparatively.

An empathetic response might be, “Congratulations! You are such an asset to the company, I’m glad they recognized your contributions. Enjoying dinner at the best steakhouse in town isn’t too shabby either.”

2) Timing and context are critical when giving the gift of empathy.

A colleague may share news with you that have no connection to another situation of which you are aware. To give the gift of empathy, be mindful of your audience, timing and context.

If you are aware of something unfortunate that happened to someone you know, be aware of the right moment to share it with another person. Sharing at the wrong time could prevent you from being in the moment for someone else.

Let’s say someone you know is going through a challenging divorce. Then someone at the office happily shares her engagement news with you: “Guess what? Mark just proposed to me last night! We’ll be getting married next August!”

To feel and express empathy for your recently engaged colleague, you have to be able to compartmentalized the two situations by not bringing up the situation of the other person’s pending divorce.

A non-empathetic response would be, “Engaged? Good for you! I’m sad to say Jessica in Finance isn’t so lucky, her divorce is a mess!”

This completely changes the dynamic of the conversation. Your newly engaged colleague may now feel bad that something good has happened for her.

3) Empathy is sharing someone else’s feelings, all feelings, negative and positive.

Remember empathy in the workplace is to understand and share any and all feelings, even positive ones like happiness, joy, success, hope and optimism.

If an intern shared with you: “I’m so happy we get to do a lot of fun games and activities during the summer with the other interns.”

A non-empathetic reaction might be, “That’s because you’re an intern, wait until you are a full-time employee. You’ll see, it won’t be all about playing games, you’ll have to work very hard and it won’t be as fun.”

In this example, the senior employee is not able to understand and share the feelings of the junior associate. The intern is happy and expressing something that gives him or her joy.

An empathetic response could be, “How fun! What kind of activities do you guys do? What is your favorite? It’s so nice that they make sure you have team bonding activities and that it’s fun for you!” In this case, the senior employee is joining in on the intern’s feelings of happiness.

4) Empathy is letting the person own his or her experience.

It’s not uncommon for some people to want to help someone who is going through an experience by providing a different context to prevent that person from owning their experience.

However, it can be empowering for people to go through their own experiences, which over time can be self-healing.

For example, if a colleague shared with you: “I’m so sad, my cat Gracie recently died. She was with me for 15 years!” And you react with, “It’s okay; don’t feel sad, cats only live about 15 years, so it was to be expected. Don’t worry; feel fortunate that you had her for so long. I can help you find another cat. Come on, we can go get a new cat this afternoon if you want?”

In this case, even though your intentions are good, they may prevent your colleague from going through her own grief and loss, which is important for her to process in her own way.

You might be interested: How business leaders can spur diversity in the workplace 

5) To express empathy you need to be intentional about it.

Be intentional about manifesting the empathy that you are feeling for a person who is sharing his or her situation. Perhaps responses like, “I’m so sorry, there seem to be no words I can say to help you feel better,” or “Is there anything I can do to bring you any comfort right now?”

No matter how hard the situation, there may be something you can say or do to make the person feel a little better, and that is to give the gift of empathy.

It is the gift of joining in the feeling, any feeling, and honoring the person’s situation by listening and believing, by staying focused on the person’s situation and by giving your gift of time, understanding, friendship, love and support.

I hope these five tips help you as you go on your quest for building your leadership skills to be there for colleagues, employees, clients, even relatives, friends, and strangers with the beautiful gift of empathy, which is a gift from the heart.


This article was written by Luis Moreno and originally published in 2016. It has been updated for relevancy. 

latinas in the workplace

How business leaders can spur diversity in the workplace 

A study conducted by The UPS Store identifies key strategies business leaders can utilize to drive diversity in the workplace.

The spotlight on inequality is driving increased dialogue and inspiring change on social and cultural levels, and the same is true of the business community.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, just 18% of businesses in the U.S. are minority-owned, even though minorities make up almost 40% of the population. However, a study conducted by The UPS Store, Inc. shows small businesses and their customers are also doing their part to promote inclusion and diversity.

Among small business owners with employees, 47% are actively trying to increase the diversity of their workforce, according to the survey. This momentum is particularly evident among younger small business owners, ages 18-45 (58%).

Strategies business leaders can use to continue promoting diversity in the workplace:

Communicating clearly about expectations

Set a policy of zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior and communicate it clearly throughout your business. Conduct a thorough audit of your typical communication channels to ensure your message is clear and consistent so there is no confusion about your expectations. This can include emails, signage and orientation materials. It’s important to recognize this won’t be a one-and-done exercise. Commit to issuing periodic reminders to reinforce your expectation for an inclusive culture.

Leading by example

Once your expectations have been defined, it’s up to you to demonstrate how they should be followed. This means taking stock of your business and any areas where you may not be upholding these standards. Ask for input from trusted advisors. You might even consider an audit by a third party to identify any discrepancies. Chances are, you’ll find at least one or two areas for improvement. Take swift and decisive action to make necessary changes, whether it means updating policies, modifying recruitment practices or other adjustments.

Creating programs that support minorities

One way businesses can turn intent into action is to create programs specifically designed to encourage minority participation. When it comes to inclusive ownership, franchising is leading compared to other industries, with nearly one-third (30.8%) of franchises being minority-owned compared to 18.8% of non-franchised businesses, according to an International Franchise Association study. One example is The UPS Store Minority Incentive Program, which provides eligible participants nearly $15,000 off the franchise fee for their first center.

This program, which applies to Asian, Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American franchisee candidates, is both an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and a solution meant to help consumers support minority-owned businesses. In addition, these new franchise owners will open a new store design with a focus on modern, tech-forward and open concept features. To learn more about the program and apply, visit theupsstorefranchise.com.*

Making training relevant for your business

The concept of diversity training isn’t new for many businesses, but it may be time to reassess your approach. Reciting a list of generic best practices to a senior leadership team does not constitute as training. Instead, consider creating a training session (or better yet, a series) that addresses the unique nuances of your business and culture. Work to incorporate principles of inclusion that relate to specific scenarios your staff may encounter and involve everyone at each level of the organization in the training.

Eliminating practices that exclude certain groups

Many traditional business practices completely overlook the good that can be gained from a more inclusive approach. In some cases, such as creating a time-off policy that accommodates holidays across different cultures, the benefits are in the form of employee morale. In other cases, such as flexible schedules for working parents, it may be the difference between successfully hiring the best candidate versus settling on someone who may not be the best fit for the position.

Implementing feedback systems

Learning better and doing better is an ongoing process, not a project to check off as completed. Part of refining your culture and creating a truly inclusive environment is enabling employees to report their concerns without fear of repercussions. Engaging your workforce, asking for input and genuinely listening may alert you to areas for improvement you never knew existed.

Creating a more inclusive workplace won’t happen overnight, but taking necessary steps can benefit your business as well as your workforce.

Leverage Consumer Support of Minority Business Owners

As the pandemic recedes, small business owners and entrepreneurs are still looking to receive support from their communities and peers.

A majority of consumers have committed within the past year to buy more products and services from small businesses, according to a survey by The UPS Store, Inc. In particular, consumers indicated plans to buy more from women-owned, Black-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

For entrepreneurial business leaders who aspire to own their own businesses, resources are available to help achieve that goal while providing consumers another avenue for supporting these types of businesses.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

One example is The UPS Store Minority Incentive Program, which offers eligible participants approximately 50% off the franchise fee. The program provides individuals the opportunity to turn their dreams of small-business ownership into reality by offering established brand strength, world-class training programs and a strong network of successful, helpful franchisees.

*This information is not intended as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy a franchise. It is for informational and design purposes only. The UPS Store, Inc. will not offer you a franchise unless and until it has complied with the applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your state, as applicable, and provided you with a Franchise Disclosure Document. Franchise offerings are made by Franchise Disclosure Documents only.


Source: The UPS Store