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bullying, antibullying, students,

Bullying online became bigger during the pandemic and added more concern

Leah Kyaio is a Professional Development Trainer, specializing in the area of diversity and inclusion. She is the CEO of With Respect, LLC, which provides unique expertise, experience, and tools for engaging resistance within the workforce as well as issues where previous diversity work has resulted in divisiveness, violence, or toxic work environments.

Below, Leah shares her expertise on navigating the topic of bullying for minority students during the pandemic, both online and offline. 


Leah Kyaio, personal development trainer and CEO of With Respect, LLC. (Photo courtesy Leah Kyaio)

Throughout the pandemic, children have struggled with keeping connections to their peers strong and healthy. Bullying has always been a concern among school-aged children, and that didn’t just disappear as schools shut down and moved to largely virtual instruction. 

 With the tech-savviness of today’s children, adolescents, and teens, bullying online (cyberbullying) has added a new level of concern for parents and schools. Research indicates that cyberbullying has increased during the pandemic. Bullying online is harder to control, and in most cases the things posted online are out there forever. 

With old-fashioned, offline bullying and cyberbullying remaining an issue even throughout the COVID pandemic, it’s up to parents, teachers, and administrators to pay attention and brainstorm ways to curb the problem.

Minority students often experience a level of bullying that differs from their white peers. According to studies, racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience alienation and loneliness, especially in a virtual school environment where isolation is a factor for everyone. As the diversity of schools continues to expand, inclusion takes more and more of a front seat in conversations. This raises the stakes of managing issues like cyberbullying. 

The Sins of the Fathers (and Mothers)

Not only were children grappling with a historic pandemic, but the summer of 2020 brought a civil rights reckoning on the heels of instances of police brutality against the black community. Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory started to appear in the news frequently, causing rifts in thought and opinion. Within these heated discussions, the idea of equity in the classroom came under fire. As children watched adults battle it out on and offline, the influence bled into their thoughts and words. As has always been true, children’s actions mirrored that of the world around them. Add to that the stress of the pandemic society and it is logical that cyberbullying increased.  

“It’s integral for quelling bullying to open conversations regarding equity, acceptance, and understanding various minority experiences,” says Leah. (Photo courtesy Leah Kyaio)

Opening the conversation on systemic racism seemed to give license to a myriad of implicit and explicit biases, with students of color more and more in the crosshairs, showing up as questions, crass statements, emphasis on stereotypes, and Oppression Olympics (“I’m more oppressed than you because….”). 

The Internet is Forever 

 Emerging science suggests people’s brains are not done developing until age 25. Kids and teens often show a lack of understanding of the permanency of posts online. They live their lives in social media circles, and whatever they may be experiencing, from pandemic shutdowns to racial tension, peppers their interactions. The result is they have little connection to the idea that what they type today may come back in not-so-good ways later. 

Teaching Respect 

 When working with students, I teach the tools of maintaining respect, not because I like you, accept you, or even know you, but because we are all human. Taking our lives online runs the risk of diminishing our human-ness, in some ways. Students are far more likely to say things and engage in bullying behavior they would never dream of doing in person. The anonymity that virtual interactions sometimes provide leads to harsher words, greater criticisms, and discriminatory actions. 

It’s integral for quelling bullying to open conversations regarding equity, acceptance, and understanding various minority experiences. The more students understand one another and listen to the stories of their peers, the more compassion and empathy they learn and demonstrate. This instruction should include how to ask questions and stay curious as well as learning the antidote to the language of shame, blame, and judgment. It is the art of emphasizing how words, online and off, can hurt and how to state opinions without making enemies. 

You might be interested: Why words matter: The negative impacts of racial microaggressions

Creating a safe environment for students to learn about one another and speak openly about issues is integral to mitigating the issue of bullying. Compassion and grace are required if there is to be any expectation of change. We can do this by reminding our children that the rules of respect apply to their behavior online as well as offline, that if they wouldn’t say it to a person in front of them, they shouldn’t type it.  

anti-bullying,

“When working with students, I teach the tools of maintaining respect, not because I like you, accept you, or even know you, but because we are all human.” (Photo courtesy Leah Kyaio)

As adults, it is important to remember the trauma that bullying and prejudice can cause and recognize how much more vulnerable minority students become in the virtual world. This can be one of our primary motivations to teach all students how to be respectful.

 Educational institutions are becoming increasingly more diverse related to sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender identity, and creed. Institutions need to have a secure plan that includes compassion and education to decrease instances of bullying online and off and to support students in learning to manage their virtual experience with respect and dignity.  

About Leah Kyaio

Leah identifies as Two-Skinned, having a Blackfoot mother—a Native American Tribe—and an Appalachian white father. Her early childhood experiences gave her insight into the privilege provided by the white skin she wears. That same early experience and trauma made clear the connection of the historical trauma of her Native heritage. With that early lived experience of white privilege and seeing the disparities across race, gender, and class, she recognized her unique position to be able to speak and teach the tools necessary to engage in deeper conversations in the forever process of mitigating the impacts of systemic oppression. That’s where With Respect LLC was born. Through her business, she does diversity differently, finding that by teaching tools of respect and belonging, the consequential behavior changes lead to dignity and respect across all the -isms.

The glass ceiling: Career development inequality for women of color

With November being Career Development Month, it is a time for employers to think about leveling the playing field for women in general and women of color in particular.

Schools and businesses across the country will host events connecting students with professionals. The National Career Development Association promoted the start of National Career Development Month in 1967. Their goal was to improve development at all stages of one’s career. Even with great efforts, women still face challenges in achieving senior roles. 

Women have achieved lower and middle management positions, but many have hit the “glass ceiling” in reaching upper-level management roles. In fact, they account for only 25% of senior roles globally. There are a number of reasons why this occurs such as systemic gender bias existing within companies. work and home imbalances, and even women lacking the confidence to apply due to their slight chances of success.

An important issue to consider is women being the primary caregivers for their children. This responsibility that usually falls on the mother results in many women having to work part-time, while most men are able to work full-time and overtime. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, one in five workers in the US knows of a woman who had to voluntarily leave the workforce during the pandemic because of such responsibilities. This imbalance leads to fewer promotional opportunities. 

Workplace solutions to shatter the glass ceiling 

Finding solutions to this issue is not as complicated as one may think:

  • Providing a hybrid work environment is a solution that gives women flexibility in balancing work and home life. As we realized during the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely is possible for many industries. Another solution would be to minimize promotion and compensation bias.
  • Both men and women are concerned that they may miss out on career development if they are not physically in the workplace. It can be challenging to intentionally recognize employees who work from home but it is vital to career development for women. 
  • Additionally, in more male-dominated companies, women find that their opinions are not respected. Barbara Annis, who is an expert in gender issues in the workplace, says that “women often feel ignored during business meetings, which might lead to lowered self-esteem and decreased chances for career advancement.” This bias comes from leaders believing that males have more potential even than well-qualified women. Allowing women a voice and space to speak freely allows them the confidence to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and innovative ideas. 

To demonstrate just how wide the gap is with promotion opportunities between men and women, “for every 100 men getting their first promotion, just 72 women are promoted… for women of color, the number is lower, with 68 Latinas and 58 Black women promoted to management.” These numbers reveal a difference in opportunity not only by gender but by race as well. 

You might be interested: “We are being left behind” in the C-suite and boardroom says LCDA CEO Esther Aguilera

Strategies to help women advance their careers

  1. Find a mentor– Many highly successful women give credit to a mentor who helped them get to where they are today! A benefit for those wanting to develop their careers is to network and join organizations that provide an opportunity to establish strong relationships with women in senior roles.
  2. Be persistent– It can take a great amount of patience in obtaining a desired job or promotion. The key is to not give up, write down one’s goals, and obtain help to achieve them!
  3. Project confidence– Confidence is key whether it is genuine or a facade, individuals with confidence hold power. Being confident in one’s values, experiences, and skills will provide a greater chance of success.
  4. Build a network– Network, socialize, meet people! Networking within and outside of one’s organization is a good idea in case a unexpected situation arises. It is always worth the time and effort and can open doors to many job opportunities!

Latinas in Business Editorial Intern Val Gaytan contributed to this article. 

Sources: 

https://work.chron.com/career-development-issues-facing-women-12098.html 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mariaminor/2020/12/05/women-in-the-workplace-why-t hey-dont-get-recognized-as-much-as-men/?sh=38adc9b657df 

https://www.livecareer.com/resources/jobs/search/women-career-strategies 

women of color in politics

The strides toward diversity in politics continue in historic firsts for women of color

In recent years, we have seen a rise in women of color elected into office. This rise is a step forward for minority women in politics, who have historically been underrepresented in elected office. 

According to research from Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics (CAMP), “of the 144 women serving in the 117th U.S. Congress, 50, or 34.7%, are women of color. Women of color constitute 9.2% of the total 535 members of Congress. The record high for women of color serving in Congress was 52, set between January 3, 2021, and January 18, 2021.” 

Additionally, of the women serving in statewide elective executive offices, 19.1%, are women of color and women of color constitute 5.8% of the total 310 statewide elective executives. In positions of state legislators, women of color makeup 26.5% of the 2,290 women state legislators serving nationwide and constitute 8.2% of the total 7,383 state legislators.

Last year’s election saw a big, historic first for women of color, with Kamala Harris becoming the first woman of color, the first Black person, and the first South Asian person elected to the position of Vice President. 

Other firsts include Cori Bush, who won her general election race, making her the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress and Marilyn Strickland, who won her race in Washington’s 10th Congressional District Making her the first African American member of the Washington state delegation and the first African American from the Pacific Northwest in Congress. 

This year, the stride toward greater diversity continued with more historic firsts for women of color in politics. 

The historic firsts continue for women of color 

In Boston, Michelle Wu became the first woman and the first Asian American elected as the city’s mayor. Prior to Wu, Boston had only elected white, male leaders. Her win is a progressive step forward for diversity and representation in politics. 

women of color in politics,

Michelle Wu becomes first woman and Asian American mayor of Boston. (Image via Instagram)

In the city of Durham, N.C., another woman was elected as mayor in a historic first. In her victory speech, Elain O’Neal told supporters, “Together you have given me the honor and trust of being your next mayor — the first Black woman mayor of Durham. This is a dream that I never had, but it’s now my reality.”

New York City also saw Shahana Hanif become the first Muslim woman elected to City Council. 

“We deserve a city that protects its most vulnerable, a city that has equitable education, a city invested in climate solutions that are local and driven by communities, a city where our immigrant neighbors feel at home and heard and safe. This work requires all of us to keep showing up even though the election is over,” she said in a statement Tuesday. 

You might be interested: Alma and Colin Powell’s lasting American promise to the nation’s youth 

Finally, Republican Winsome Sears became the first woman elected to the office of lieutenant governor in Virginia. 

“It’s a historic night — yes, it is — but I didn’t run to make history. I just wanted to leave it better than I found it,” Sears said in a speech Wednesday morning. “I’m telling you that what you are looking at is the American Dream.”

Lucy Pinto, Grow With Google, Google Digital Coaches

Americas’ opportunity and disparity sparked the career of Google Digital Coaches Manager Lucy Pinto

Lucy Pinto is the Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which works to level the field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to resources needed to grow online. The program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses and has trained over 80,000 businesses on digital tools to help them succeed.

Lucy Pinto

Lucy Pinto, Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program. (Photo courtesy Lucy Pinto)

Throughout Lucy’s 9 years with Google and prior, she has strived to create inclusive outcomes for communities who lack access to opportunities. This passion has guided her journey personally and professionally, stemming from her identity as a Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. at eight years old. 

“Coming from a low-income immigrant family living in the south, I was exposed very early on to a duality that perplexed me: this is a country of opportunity and disparity at the same time,” said Lucy. “I knew that if I wanted to help my community, I had to unapologetically go after opportunities then disseminate what I learn to others in my community who might not have the same access.” 

With this mission in mind, Lucy worked hard to attend college. She received her B.B.A. in Management and International Business from The University of Georgia in 2012–becoming the first in her family to graduate college. 

Before graduating, Lucy began her career at Google as an intern in 2011. Lucy highlights the importance of mentorship and development programs, such as the Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s Career Prep program, which helped prepare her to navigate Corporate America. 

While Lucy’s first role at Google was not related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, she made it a purpose to engage in this work outside of her core role at the time. She became active in various groups including Google’s Employee Resource Groups. From 2016-2018 Lucy served as the N.Y.C. Chapter Lead of HOLA –– the Hispanic Google Network — which is committed to representing the voice of the Latino community within and outside Google. 

Within a few years, Lucy attained a core role on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, enabling her to build a more equitable Google experience internally and externally. Now she works in Marketing where her work as Grow with Google’s Digital Coaches Manager focuses on amplifying Google’s best-in-class digital skills training to help Black and Latino business owners in the United States thrive. 

Additionally, Lucy has been the recipient of various awards for her work. In 2018, she was recognized as a Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility and recipient of the 2019 Negocios Now N.Y.C. Latinos 40 Under 40 award. On April 12, 2019, she was awarded a proclamation by the Westchester County Board of Legislators proclaiming April 12 as “Lucy Pinto Day” for her participation in the 100 Hispanic Women of Westchester Leadership Forum as well as her professional and community work. 

Lucy Pinto

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Lucy Pinto speaks onstage during the PowHERful Benefit Gala on June 13, 2018 at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for PowHERful Foundation)

One career highlight that stands out for Lucy was managing the participation of hundreds of employees in volunteer initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide across 15 countries —such as South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Nigeria— which reached 135K people. 

“The activation in South Africa stood out to me because I was able to attend it in person and witness first-hand the impact of our work. We partnered with a local organization called MOOV and had about 50+ employees from the Black Googler Network connect with 250+ job seekers and entrepreneurs from Soweto,” said Lucy. 

Soweto residents face many systemic barriers deeply rooted in the country’s history with apartheid, and they often look to entrepreneurship to make a living for themselves and their families. The activation focused on delivering digital skills training to help job seekers build resumes and help business owners reach customers online.

“To me personally, this activation had some of the most heartfelt stories and testimonials that I’ve come across in my career.” 

Navigating obstacles in the workplace 

 As a Latina in the workplace, Lucy approaches matters through a multicultural lens. For many Latinas, this lens can be advantageous because it can help a company identify inclusion gaps in marketing or hiring, and help build innovative solutions that authentically reach diverse audiences. 

“Being a Latina in the workplace can give you a cultural intelligence edge. You’ll likely have a unique perspective on how to make products and programs more inclusive thanks to your own diverse and innovative lived experiences,” she says. 

Throughout her years of experience working in leadership roles and aiding entrepreneurs on their journeys, Lucy has also learned many important lessons and strategies for tackling career obstacles and challenges. While career development training is essential, there is nothing like hands-on experience. 

Lucy recalls a time in her career when she faced a challenge with a co-worker. Lucy received some critical feedback that misrepresented who she was as a professional, and miscommunication about the issue led to hurt feelings. 

“This peer didn’t give me the feedback directly but rather shared such with their manager, leaving me feeling betrayed, perplexed, and concerned about my career trajectory. I spoke in detail with my work mentors, including my manager, about the issue. I felt vulnerable and wanted to get validation from people who worked close to me,” Lucy recounts. 

Lucy Pinto, Grow with Google, Google Digital Coaches

“To work effectively and influence peers, be it management or leadership, communication is key,” says Google Digital Coaches Program Manager, Lucy Pinto. (Photo courtesy Lucy Pinto)

After speaking to her manager, he highlighted something she had never considered before: communication style differences. 

This perspective shed new light on the situation and how the misunderstanding had arisen. Communication styles are often shaped by one’s upbringing, culture, and current circumstances. Lucy describes herself as an analytical thinker who loves to reflect on ideas out loud and work through pros and cons on the spot. 

“This is my default way of brainstorming, much like my family and I did at the dinner table. After speaking with my manager, I realized that the issue’s root was the extreme difference in communication styles. I wasn’t acting how my coworker perceived, nor was my perception of my co-worker accurate. It was just that my co-worker and I spoke in different communication languages.”

Lucy thought she was simply analyzing her co-worker’s proposal and pressure testing it with questions. Her co-worker interpreted this as Lucy shutting down her ideas and being territorial with their collaborative project. 

After taking a communication style assessment to understand better where she and her co-worker’s styles fell on the range, they discovered they indeed had very different styles. They were able to use this assessment as a framework to guide their conversation and work through their differences, build rapport, and ultimately work effectively together.

“What I learned from this challenge was something super valuable to my career: to work effectively and influence peers, be it management or leadership, communication is key,” said Lucy. 

“Understanding your own communication style and how to stretch it to get your desired outcome is crucial. It doesn’t mean that you have to change your default communication style, but you do have to strike a balance, especially when you’re attempting to influence decision-making.”

Lucy Pinto

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Soledad O’Brien (L) and Lucy Pinto speak onstage during the PowHERful Benefit Gala on June 13, 2018 at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for PowHERful Foundation)

Another lesson Lucy has learned and imparts to other entrepreneurs and career-driven women is remembering that the journey is not always linear or upward. 

“Your career might be full of twists, turns, lateral moves, and balancing out personal with professional. Find beauty and learn from this ‘chaos’ as it will equip you to have the breadth needed to be an effective thought leader.” 

Finally, make time to periodically check in with yourself on what success looks like to you as you progress in your career. You may find that your definition of success has changed over time, and that’s okay!

“Does your definition of success mean making it to a C-suite position, or do you feel more fulfilled by a constant change in scope regardless of title? It’s important to keep YOU at the center of it,” Lucy advises. “Don’t measure your success by the definition of others but rather by your own terms.”

You might be interested: Latinas are underrepresented in law, says attorney Anna María Tejada

4 ways to get more Black and Latino teachers in K-12 public schools

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor of Education at University of California, Berkeley, shares 4 ways to encourage diversity in public schools. 

Black children are more likely to score higher on standardized tests and finish high school and want to attend college, and less likely to be suspended, if they have a Black teacher. Similarly, studies show that Latino students who have a Latino teacher are more likely to want to take advanced coursework.

This data reflects earlier research on Black and Latino teachers and the positive social and emotional experiences they create for their students.

Education historian Vanessa Siddle Walker writes about how, even before the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision in 1954, Black teachers and principals provided their students with tools and a framework to navigate a society that was anti-Black. And renowned education researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings explains Black teachers’ capacity to draw on their own experiences as Black people in the U.S. and incorporate their Black students’ cultural experiences into the classroom.

Given the added value of teachers of color, a pressing problem remains: There is a considerable demographic mismatch between teachers and students of color in the U.S. While teachers of color represent 21% of public school educators, students of color account for more than 52% of public school students.

As an education researcher, I study the experiences of teachers of color. Here are four ways to get more teachers from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds in K-12 classrooms.

1. Focus on retention

Policymakers, school principals and philanthropies have spent a great deal of resources on recruiting teachers of color. And those efforts have paid off. More Black and Latino teachers are entering the teacher workforce.

The story now is one of retention.

Teachers of color leave the profession and move to other schools at a higher rate than their white peers. An analysis of nine school districts found that Black teachers in particular have higher turnover rates than their white and Latino peers. For example, the number of Black teachers in Chicago Public Schools decreased by 39% between 2002 and 2011, compared to a 3% decrease in white teachers and a 6% increase in Latino teachers during the same period.

2. Improve leadership, work conditions

Historically, researchers believed that teachers in urban schools that predominantly serve children of color left their schools because they did not want to work with those students. But teachers don’t leave their students; teachers leave their principals.

Principals create the working conditions that lead to turnover by not supporting teachers or providing the resources they need to work with their students.

To ensure that principals instead create conditions that help teachers of color thrive, they need high-quality preparation. This preparation should include a focus on how to support new teachers as well as work collegially with students, caregivers and teachers.

Model programs that continue to do this work are The Leadership Academy and the Principal Leadership Institute at University of California, Berkeley.

latino students,

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

3. Fund schools equitably

To retain teachers of color, districts have to improve the working conditions in their schools. One way to do this is to fund schools more equitably.

Some states, like California, have a more progressive, equitable funding formula. That means schools that have a significant number of students who are unhoused, adopted, qualify for free or reduced lunch, or speak English as a second language get more money and resources.

Other states, like New York and Illinois, which are home to some of our country’s largest public school districts, have more regressive funding formulas. Since public schools are primarily funded by local property taxes, students who live in high-income communities across New York State, for example, attend more well-resourced schools than children living in low-income communities. Legal efforts to dismantle this separate and unequal funding system are ongoing.

You might be interested: 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges

4. Redesign teacher training

The U.S. has a wide variety of teacher preparation programs. There’s no common framework for thinking about how to prepare people to become teachers.

Furthermore, in states like California and Texas, after two months of preparation a new teacher can teach children in historically marginalized communities. Given where these teachers are placed, it is clear that school districts, like Oakland Public Schools, will hire those new educators.

Placing the most inexperienced teachers in schools with the most challenging working conditions increases turnover.

What stands in the way of getting more Black and Latino teachers in classrooms is not a clear understanding of the problem, but the courage to act on what we already know.


[Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter.]The Conversation

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

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

New America Alliance, Solange Brooks

New America Alliance CEO Solange Brooks says, “Diversity is one of the elements of success”

Solange Brooks is the CEO of New America Alliance (NAA), a national nonprofit organization committed to building on American Latino success to forge a stronger America and advocate for Latinos in the industry of investment. 

In the second installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Solange to discuss NAA’s various initiatives and how the organization is helping increase capital access for women and minority-owned firms, and accelerate diverse leadership in entrepreneurship, corporate America, and public service.

Access to capital and investing in diverse firms

New America Alliance was founded in 1999 by a small group of successful Latino leaders, including Henry Cisneros, the former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Their mission was to advance the Latino community in four key areas: education, political awareness, economic empowerment, and philanthropy. 

Today, New America Alliance advocates for all communities of color and women, with a focus on financial services and access to capital for firms. 

“We believe strongly, that access to capital is one of the last bastions of the civil rights movement, and we have to go ahead and address it,” said Solange. 

Access to capital is a crucial first step for any project or venture and minority communities in particular often struggle the most in this area. Without capital, there is little you can do. This is something we know to be true for entrepreneurs and small business owners as well. For this reason, NAA began to expand to include other minority groups and become an even more diverse and inclusive organization. 

“We find that a lot of the things that help us, a lot of the tenets that we started this organization with, apply to too many people in the communities of color,” said Solange. 

One of New America Alliance’s biggest key initiatives is securing access to capital for diverse firms. 

“What we do is we meet with various institutional allocators to basically come and get to know us, get to know the members of NAA, get to know the opportunities they offer,” Solange said, detailing the process. 

“What happens often times is that people think ‘Oh, investing with diverse firms is like a social experiment.’ I’m here to tell you that, no, it isn’t. It’s not a social experiment at all. It’s basically money on the table that institutional investors have been leaving there because they don’t look at what we have, they have to be vetted. So we present opportunities. And we have a good conversation, we get to know the institutional investor a little bit, they get to know us a little bit. And then we circle back with them to see, which is the best way to present our opportunities. So it is not just a meeting that everybody feels good and goes their separate ways. But it’s a meeting where there’s actual engagement, and we have followed through. And this has been very, very successful. We have had people that may, they didn’t know anything about investing with communities of color, all of a sudden calling me and asking me, do you have somebody in infrastructure? Or do you have fixed income folks? And of course, there’s private equity. That’s very, very prevalent right now.” 

Diverse firms with diverse managers and partners are also more likely to bring in better revenue. This is because a diverse management structure prevents groupthink and allows for a greater pool of investment opportunities. 

“It has been proven over and over again that diversity is one of the elements of success…because everybody has different ideas, they have different worldviews,” said Solange.

“If you have everybody that came from the same place, went to the same school, had the same background, you are missing a huge portion of what you can do in investments. So yes, I know it’s right now, it’s very popular to quote diversity and inclusion. However, we, you know, NAA, has been doing that for 21 years. And there have been some institutional investors that this is all they do. And they’ve been having very good results.”

You might be interested: “We need to speak up about social justice” says Prospanica CEO Thomas Savino

NAA advocating for transparency in politics and educational initiatives 

Another key initiative for the New America Alliance is political awareness, specifically advocating for transparency. As a nonpartisan organization, NAA feels strongly about political transparency not only in corporate life but in pension plans. Through town halls and working with key legislators, NAA is pushing for greater transparency. 

“And you say,’ Why?’ Well, pension plans are the people’s money, and the workforce should know how their investments are being made. And they should know that the people in pension plans are doing their absolute best to take advantage of all the opportunities. And you do not know that unless you have a transparent system, where you can go ahead and observe what’s going on and have a dialogue about that,” Solange said. 

The third key initiative is in the area of education, passing on the torch to the next generation through mentorship opportunities. The NAA Institute Pathway Fellowship program is one of the ways NAA is working to guide young leaders. The program is an opportunity to foster and accelerate young leaders among American Latinos, women, and people of color and accelerate that leadership and entrepreneurship in corporate America and in public service. 

“So we have a program where we mentor the various individuals in the summer. And we basically have conversations with them, and they can see how somebody that looks like them is successful, and they’re in the financial services industry. And, you know, my favorite saying is like, ‘Hey, it’s not rocket science, folks. Anybody can learn it, just go to college, focus on math, focus on economics, and you’ll be fine.’ So we’re very excited about that program.”

Watch the full conversation between Susana G Baumann and Solange Brooks. 

For potential investors interested in becoming a member of New America Alliance, there are various advantages to becoming a part of the organization. NAA has a network of people, from large funds to small funds to people just starting out. 

“We help each other. Most definitely, because most of us know what it’s like to begin a business. Or know what it’s like to change strategy, and have to go ahead and discuss those opportunities,” said Solange. 

“One of the great things about investments is that there’s always somebody with a great idea. There’s always somebody new that’s bringing up their idea, and we want to nurture that.” 

Currently, the U.S. Latino population makes up about 18% of the total population and possesses about $1.5 trillion in buying power. The Latino population is also young and still growing.   

“And with all those little points, we are the future of this country. And Financial Services is only one segment where we have incredible value for institutional investors.”

“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. 

Why more minority founders aren’t backed by venture capital funding

Funding for any new business venture is a critical step that will often determine its ultimate success. Many businesses sink far too early in the process when founders are unable to secure access to capital. Unfortunately, women and minority business owners are more likely to be denied venture capital funding and bank loans compared to white, male founders.  

Why aren’t more minority founders backed by venture capital funding? (Business card photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com)

According to an article by Forbes, in the past year, only 2.6% of venture dollars went to minorities and 2.2% went to women. In total, that is only $4.2 billion out of the $87.3 billion venture capital was distributed. Additionally, as of January 2021, only 93 Black and 58 Latinx women have ever raised over $1M.

This lack of VC funding for women- and minority-owned businesses is part of an ongoing cycle and diversity issue within the entire venture capital process. The fact of the matter is, diverse venture capitalists (VCs) and limited partners (LPs) will be more likely to invest in diverse founders and entrepreneurs. But so far, these roles have been saturated predominantly by white, male individuals. 

Breaking old patterns 

In an article by Fast Company, Leah Solivan discusses her experiences in securing venture capital funding for her startup and shares ideas on how the old pattern can be broken. In sharing her experience she describes how she first struggled to secure funding because she “didn’t match the pattern.” As a woman and a Latina, these modifiers made her an “other” in the eyes of traditional venture capitalists. She was not the typical founder. 

“VCs had an idea of what successful founders looked like, and they didn’t look like me,” Leah shared in her article. “It took another woman of color hearing my pitch to open up opportunities for me. And that woman, Ann Miura-Ko, was only in a position to say “yes” to me because another VC (Floodgate’s Mike Maples) took a chance on her. As a founder and CEO, I recruited a diverse team of talented individuals who brought different backgrounds and life experiences to the table. Many of these people have gone on to become founders themselves, building their own teams. Others have gone on to become venture capitalists. This is the virtuous cycle of wealth creation in action. And all it took to get it going was one VC deciding to take a chance on someone who didn’t match the pattern.”

This process that she describes is exactly how we can work to break old patterns within the venture capital process. We need diverse LPs who can then fund venture capital funds. And diverse VCs will then seek out and fund diverse founders. These founders can then give opportunities to their diverse team members and employees who can then grow to become their own founders or investors. 

Minority business owners and entrepreneurs, especially Latinos, have great potential to grow and thrive with the right backing. According to the Stanford Research 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report, Latinos are starting businesses at a faster rate than the national average across several industries, growing 34 percent over the last 10 years compared to just 1 percent for all other small businesses. Additionally, the report showed that over the past two-years, Latino-owned firms grew revenue at an average of 25 percent per year while white-owned businesses grew revenue at 19 percent.

Moreover, much of the growth in the number of new businesses among Latinos has been driven by women. Latinas represent 40% of all Latino business owners and the number of Latina-led employer firms has grown 20% within the last five-year period.

Forbes also reported that in the last year, 40% of new businesses were started by women and 47% of those businesses were started by minority women. 

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We need diverse venture capitalists to support diverse founders

“Capital remains in the communities that manage it,” says Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital. Earlier this year, Ivelisse spoke as a panelist during Latina in Business’ virtual panel, “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends. There she shared trends in investment capital and discussed why many women and minority owned businesses struggle to access capital. 

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital.

There’s about $70 trillion of capital to manage in the United States and only 1% of that capital is managed by women or people of color. So even though women and people of color represent 75% of the US population, we only manage 1% of the capital. And the result of that is that our communities don’t get access to that capital.” 

To break this cycle, we need diverse venture capitalists and limited partners. Ivelisse says that this is an issue Avante has been really committed to. “Not only supporting women and people of color managing businesses but really trying to get women and people of color into this industry to manage capital so that we can go out and find entrepreneurs from our communities and help them grow. Because if there are not many people in my seat that look like us, our people are never gonna get capital,” she says

Don’t miss our Summer Speakers Series and Networking Blast Events throughout August!  Interested in learning how to access business funding for your venture? Sign up for our August 11th workshop, “Resources to Increase Your Business Revenue.” 

While pushing for more diversity throughout the various positions in the venture capital funding process, we also need to hold venture capitalists accountable. It should not only be the job of diverse and minority venture capitalists to fund diverse founders and entrepreneurs. More venture capitalists need to be willing to take risks. After all, is that not the point of “venture” capitalists. 

As Leah Solivan nicely said, “Venture capital was once a business that took big bets on outsiders—it wasn’t long ago that the college drop-out computer nerd cliché was a novel, risky opportunity. As the industry has matured, we’ve defaulted to pattern matching (which too often means young, white males that resemble those once-novel success stories) instead of seeking out founders of different backgrounds, different geographies, different skill sets, and different demographics. Our current cycle tries to play it safe. There’s nothing virtuous about that, and it also runs contrary to the ethos of venture capital—which is about taking a chance on something or someone with the potential for disruption.” 

We need diversity in all stages of the venture capital process. We need to break-down old patterns and biases about what a founder looks like. And we need to hold traditional venture capitalists accountable and push them back to their roots, to take risks on something new, and take a chance on the underdog.

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