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6 Ways men can be better allies to Latinas in the workplace

In most industries, men still hold more leadership positions, privileges, and power. Men can help close these disparities by being advocates and allies to Latinas in the workplace. The first step is to acknowledge there is a problem.

Latinas have faced a steeper decline in employment (‑21 percent) throughout COVID-19 than other demographics of women and men. Additionally, Latinas still have the lowest earnings of any major race or ethnicity and gender group, earning on average, 43% less than white men and 28% less than white women. As of today, Latinas earn on average only 55 cents to the dollar paid to white, non-hispanic men. This wage gap has hardly moved in over 30 years. 

Additionally, many Latinas feel they cannot be authentic in the workplace with 77 percent of Latinos reporting they feel the need to repress parts of their identity to be taken seriously and respected. 

Male allies can help to dismantle these barriers and create an equal and inclusive environment by advocating for Latinas and using their privileges and power to make room for others at the table. A good ally is marked by action, not just words.

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.

6 Tips for men to become better allies to Latinas at work 

Ask Latinas specifically how you can help them within the workplace. Simply reaching out to know what Latinas need can go a long way. Are they seeking sponsorship or mentorship? More learning opportunities or resources? Knowing what the Latinas in your workplace need to succeed is the first step to helping and becoming a better ally and advocate. 

Speak up and “call out” other people if you see them abusing their power. As an ally you can help Latinas by speaking up and challenging those who discriminate and abuse their power. Many Latinas struggle to speak up against microaggressions and abuse of power because of fear of consequences, such as losing their position or facing greater injustices. Additionally, cultural stereotypes like marianismo place expectations on Latinas to be meek and submissive. By standing with your Latina colleagues you can help strengthen their voices and empower them through solidarity. 

Step back to make space for other voices. Men can be better allies to Latinas in the workplace by making space for their voices and perspectives, especially in male-dominated industries. By taking a step back and taking up less space in meetings and gatherings, men can give others a chance to speak and present their ideas, perspectives, and unique knowledge. In culturally diverse workplaces and global companies, diverse perspectives are crucial to reaching diverse audiences. 

Advocate for benefits and take parental leave. During the pandemic Latinas faced greater unemployment than other demographics and many were forced out of the workplace to assume caretaking responsibilities. This issue is widespread among women in general too, where many must make difficult decisions between being a caretaker or having a career. Men can support women and Latinas in the workplace by advocating for better benefits for parental leave and paid time off. Additionally, men can choose to take parental leave and work to break the assumption that only women can stay home and assume caretaking responsibilities. 

Celebrate the dads in your life this Father’s Day!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

Be transparent and mindful in your communication. Keeping lines of communication open with the women in your workplace, especially if you are in a leadership role, will help ensure the women in your workplace are included and informed about important decisions, tasks, and updates. Additionally, being mindful of how one communicates, biases that may accidentally work their way into communications, and combating those assumptions and stereotypes. Be mindful of how words can impact others and encourage others to speak up when you make mistakes. Open dialogues based on mutual respect will help foster a positive workplace environment for everyone. 

Give credit where credit is due. Many Latinas have a natural respect for authority, due to their cultural upbringing. This can make it challenging for Latinas to ask for credit where credit is due. Creating a space where all work and contributions are valued and proper credit is given will help to support Latinas in the workplace. Fostering an environment where Latinas feel comfortable to speak up, set boundaries, and communicate their needs is crucial to being a better ally to Latinas in the workplace. 

You might be interested: 4 Tips for Latina and minority women on setting boundaries in the workplace

Being good allies to Latinas in the workplace starts with action. Take some time to reflect on ways you can use your position to uplift the voices of others and dismantle unfair biases and stereotypes to foster an equal and inclusive environment for everyone. 


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diversity

Diversity helps nonprofits accomplish more when staff from different backgrounds can connect

Brad R. Fulton, Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management at Indiana University shares how diverse nonprofits can accomplish more.

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Increasing staff diversity does not automatically make a nonprofit more effective. But such organizations can benefit from that change if they can help their employees learn how to acknowledge and talk about their social differences.

This is what I found when I analyzed data on the race, class, gender and religion of the leadership team members of 178 organizations engaged in community organizing across the country. I measured effectiveness in several ways, including how many times the groups secured meetings with public officials, how many different organizing tactics they used, whether they collaborated with other nonprofits working on similar issues and how many people took part in their events.

My analysis focused on organizations that were sufficiently diverse, as defined by a metric pioneered in the 1970s by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a sociology-trained business researcher. An organization’s leadership team is sufficiently diverse along a particular social dimension, by this measure, when at least two groups represent at least 20% of the team.

There was a range, however. For example, one organization in Illinois was 50% Black and 50% white, while an organization in Texas was 10% Asian, 30% Black, 20% Latino and 40% white. The nonprofits also varied in terms of how they were diverse. Some had substantial religious diversity but minimal gender diversity. Others were diverse along multiple dimensions.

The groups that not only had diverse teams but whose leaders and staff also regularly talked about their racial, class, gender and religious differences with their colleagues were more successful overall. They were better able to mobilize their volunteers, forge alliances with other groups and secure meetings with public officials to further their goals.

I also saw that the types of interactions made a difference.

Socializing and doing group activities, such as sharing meals, serving others, playing games and even singing songs, helped these groups maximize their effectiveness in reaching their goals. That was particularly true when the events gave the leaders and staff opportunities to highlight characteristics of their culture or community.

For example, it helped if they could experience the different ways their colleagues celebrate birthdays and particular holidays. And when the nonprofits encouraged overtures to connect across race, class, gender and religious lines, their staff became more invested in one another and in their work.

Diversify your virtual bookshelf with new titles on Audible! 

Nonprofits are seeking to diversify their leadership. (Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.)

Why it matters

The organizations I studied, as well as nonprofits in general, are becoming more diverse. For example, the percentage of nonprofit leaders of color is increasing, albeit slowly.

Pressure to increase diversity is coming from funders, advocacy organizations and many communities. This is a response to the heightened attention focused on racial injustices, growing economic inequality, sustained gender inequities and increasing religious pluralism.

Yet as nonprofits become more diverse, many leaders and staff tiptoe around talking about their differences. Some of them claim they “don’t see color” or want to emphasize only what they have in common with others from different backgrounds.

Becoming more diverse, however, is not an end in itself. My research suggests nonprofits need to learn to understand, value and utilize their diverse perspectives to become more equitable and effective.

You might be interested: How your employer can better support Latina and minority women in the workplace

What’s next

My study was based primarily on survey data. To gain more detailed insights about the impact of diversity within nonprofits, I’ve teamed up with Matthew Baggetta, a sociologist. We’re gathering observational data on how members interact with one another and engage their social differences, starting with a 15-month pilot study in which we observed nearly 100 meetings held by three organizations in Indianapolis.

Among other things, we documented which members interacted with whom, the context of their interactions and what they talked about. Next, we will carefully examine the interactions of group members across lines of difference and how those interactions affect the organizations’ outcomes.

[Science, politics, religion or just plain interesting articles: Check out The Conversation’s weekly newsletters.]The Conversation

Brad R. Fulton, Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management, Indiana University.

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


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Monika Mantilla

“Diversity is a value, a principle, and a source of transformational power,” says Altura Capital co-founder, Monika Mantilla

Monika Mantilla is the co-founder of Altura Capital, an investment firm dedicated to transforming societies through entrepreneurial success. Altura specializes in the small and lower-middle markets with an emphasis on investments in low- and moderate-income (LMI) businesses, and those with diverse ownership.

Monika has dedicated the last 25 years of her life to her passion: pursuing societal transformation through entrepreneurial success by providing capital and expanding opportunity for promising entrepreneurs.

She is actively involved in public policy dialogues and action-oriented impact initiatives with Government, Corporations, Foundations and Institutional Investors and is a trusted advisor to many CEOs, corporations and government agencies, through which she lives her deep belief in the power of collaboration to build stronger communities and companies.

Monika Mantilla

Monika Mantilla, co-founder of Altura Capital. (Photo via Altura Capital)

Monika’s career began practicing law after earning her J.D. from the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. She then moved into managerial roles for a company in Colombia before moving to the United States where she began developing a deep interest in finance. This led her to attaining her MBA from Columbia Business School. After working at an investment-management consulting firm for some time and becoming partner with the firm, she decided to found Altura Capital with her husband in 2005. 

“I launched Altura Capital because I have a passion for helping underserved communities, particularly as it relates to the important businesses in those ecosystems. I love listening to business owners’ stories and helping them solve their biggest challenges as a partner, an advisor and a friend,” says Monika. 

Diverse entrepreneurs are her favorite entrepreneurs, she tells Latinas in Business, and it is her responsibility to bridge the gap that exists in serving these communities across the US and Puerto Rico. 

“Many people think that helping diverse owned businesses is helping micro businesses only. That certainly is an important part of the diverse community, but there are scalable and pioneering companies in different industries with great value add that historically have also been disconnected from Capital and Strategic resources,” she says. 

“They create jobs, and they can be a significant engine of the US economy. Those are the ones we focus on and invest in. I wish more foundations and institutional investors focused on this segment and its incredible value to the economy.”

In recent years we have seen a push across all industries to elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion. More and more companies are seeing the importance and value in supporting diverse businesses and increasing diversity in leadership, boardrooms, and teams. 

“DEI advancement is at the forefront of every major organization in the world because diversity is a value, a principle, a source of transformational power, and it’s a growing power in the US,” says Monika. 

“Organizations that want to meet their customers’ needs cannot ignore the varying demographics of their target markets. I have been involved in several organizations, like NAA, because institutions move markets, public policies and investment policies. They are a force for good, and we need to support our institutions and help them to become lasting through endowments and the right leadership.” 

Watch Monika speak about access to capital for small businesses below! 

Monika is doing her part to create opportunities for diverse founders and business owners. Guided by her conviction that small and diverse businesses need much stronger financial solutions and access to corporate markets, Monika co-founded Small Business Community Capital, one of the few Latina-led SBIC funds in the United States. SBCC and Altura are playing a pivotal role in developing an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and corporations working together to harness opportunities. In 2020 Monika Co-founded the Altura EOZ strategy, one of the few Qualified Opportunity Zone strategies focused on operating companies. 

Currently, Monika sits on the board of directors for companies including Cidrines, Coastal Painting, 9th Wonder, and is a board observer at Lippe Taylor. She also serves on the board of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI), where she teaches a capital seminar; the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and the USHCC Foundation, which she chairs; and serves as a Capital Advisor to the Billion Dollar Roundtable. She is a fellow member of the Aspen Latinos in Society program and the author of a chapter in the book Advancing U.S. Latino Entrepreneurship.

Start your entrepreneurial journey with titles on Audible!

Monika and the firms she leads have won numerous awards for their work building financial capacity and strong, scalable businesses in minority and underserved communities. In multiple years, Latino Leaders Magazine recognized her as one of the 101 Most Influential Leaders in Hispanic U.S.A. and one of the Top 15 Latinos in Finance. In 2010 she became the first Latina to ever receive the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award in Business, the highest honor for Latinos by Latinos.


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Amplify Latinx

To achieve the American Dream, Latinas need “Increased educational opportunities without debt” says Amplify Latinx’s Betty Francisco

Betty Francisco is the CEO of Boston Impact Initiative and the Co-Founder of Amplify Latinx, a social venture that is building Latinx economic and political power by significantly increasing Latino civic engagement, economic opportunity and leadership representation in Massachusetts. 

As a seasoned business executive, entrepreneur, attorney, board director, angel investor, and community leader with over 22 years in her field, she is known as a powerful convener and changemaker, unapologetic about creating visibility for Latinas and people of color.

The Boston Business Journal named Betty as one of the 2020 Power 50 – Extraordinary Year Extraordinary People, and Boston Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston in 2018. 

Amplify Latinx

Betty Francisco, Co-Founder of Amplify Latinx and CEO of Boston Impact Initiative. (Photo source: bettyfrancisco.com)

Betty is also Co-Founder of the Investors of Color Network, a consortium of Black and Latinx accredited investors working to close the racial funding gap in startup capital.

Throughout her career, Betty has been a champion for Latinas and people of color, working to create greater economic opportunities and level the playing field for Latinas and minority entrepreneurs. 

With her company, Amplify Latinx, she is cultivating a supportive and inclusive network that fosters mentorship, collaboration, and relationships.

During Latinas in Business’ 4th annual National Conversation with Latina Leaders, Betty spoke a bit on what it takes for Latinas to make it in America and achieve the American Dream. 

“In the world I live in, individual effort obviously is incredibly important. But it is not enough without addressing the systemic barriers that we have in this country, the things that prevent Latinas from continuously moving up, from advancing in their careers, and from accessing capital,” says Betty. 

To achieve the American Dream, Betty says it’s going to take some real change at the systemic level. 

“The reality is that Latinas form a significant number in the current workforce. They are extremely entrepreneurial. Six out of ten new businesses have been started by Latinas. And there are still significant barriers that they have. This is what needs to change in our country: Increasing the educational opportunities for Latinas without the burden of debt. That’s hugely important. I went to school, business school, law school, college with no debt and that is what helped me break the cycle of poverty for my family.” 

Betty obtained her JD and MBA from Northeastern University, and her BA in History from Bard College, before beginning her legal career as a Senior Business Law Associate at Edwards Wildman (now Locke Lord) representing start-ups, corporations, and investors. She accomplished all of this without accumulating any debt and Betty believes eliminating debt for Latinas is crucial to their success. 

Additionally, Betty states Latinas need more opportunities in career building jobs and accessing those jobs. 

Betty Francisco at GetKonnected event. (Photo source: bettyfrancisco.com)

“When I say career building, I mean high wage jobs, livable wage jobs, those that have pathways for growth, pathways to leadership and management as well as pathways for ownership. That’s really important for us to build ownership opportunities even within other people’s companies.” 

Access to networks and sponsors is another important step toward success. 

“It’s the sponsors that open the doors to opportunities and level the playing field. We’re so resilient, we don’t want to ask for help, we don’t need special favors but we want a level playing field,” says Betty.

“And then the last thing that we know are critical to us getting our stuff done, is flexible work arrangements: paid time off, good health benefits, and if we have children, caregiving benefits. And now we’re not just caring for children but also for our moms and dads and elders. We need full spectrum caregiving benefits. And finally, forming networks of support with other Latinas and Latinos, women groups, is so critical to pathways of success.” 

Watch the full panel below! 

Start your entrepreneurial journey with inspirational titles on Audible today!

Amplify Latinx’s vision is to achieve parity in representation of Latinos in decision-making roles of influence, resulting in economic prosperity and political equity for all Latinos in Massachusetts and beyond.

Founded in 2018, the Massachusetts-based nonprofit was created to serve as a non-partisan, collaborative convener advancing Latino civic engagement, economic opportunity, and leadership representation.

“Through our Cafecitos event series, convenings and visibility campaigns, we grew our network from 60 women at launch to a diverse network of over 4,500 multiracial, multicultural Latinos serving in elected and appointed positions, boards and commissions, and executive roles across sectors.”

Amplify Latinx

Betty Francisco with Amplify Latinx Co-Founder, Eneida Román. (Photo source: Amplify Latinx)

Today, Amplify Latinx convenes, connects and champions Latinx civic and business leaders through high-impact initiatives that support their advancement and representation into positions of power and influence. By advancing Latino representation in decision-making roles, they create advocates for racial equity and economic mobility for the Latino community. 

“When Latinx leaders, businesses and partner organizations come together in coalition around a shared mission of building representation and economic and political influence, we collaborate, we share knowledge and leverage our collective resources to drive systemic change.”

Betty hopes to continue to aid and amplify Latinas along their journeys as leaders, professionals, and entrepreneurs through her various roles and ventures. 

In addition to her work with Amplify Latinx, Betty is also the CEO of Boston Impact Initiative, a social impact investment fund that invests integrated capital in regenerative local enterprises in Eastern Massachusetts that are owned and controlled by entrepreneurs of color or are serving communities of color. 

She serves on the Boards of Directors of The Boston Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and Roxbury Community College. She is also a member of the Federal Reserve Bank’s New England Community Development Advisory Council, Advisory Board Member for LISC Boston and The Capital Network. She is also a founding member of the Coalition for an Equitable Economy which is building an equitable small business ecosystem for entrepreneurs of color in Massachusetts.

You might be interested: Latina entrepreneur and leader Susana Marino shares key business tips for female founders


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latinas in politics

5 Latinas who made political history 

Latinas throughout history have paved the way for Latinas in leadership today. These five Latinas are just a few of many trailblazers who were the firsts in their positions, making it possible for greater Latina representation in politics.

In our world today, we need more diverse leaders so that all populations get represented and Latina issues are heard by leaders. 

Let us celebrate some of the Latinas who made political history and inspire future generations of Latinas to become our next leaders. 

Soledad Chacón 

Soledad Chacón , Photo source: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Soledad Chacón, nicknamed Lala, was the first woman elected to be the Secretary of State of New Mexico, and the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in the United States.

She served as acting Governor of New Mexico for two weeks in 1924 when Governor James F. Hinkle traveled to New York for the Democratic National Convention. The lieutenant governor had died in May, leaving Chacón as next in line for the highest position in the state, making her the second woman to act as chief executive of a U.S. state.

In 1934, she was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. In this position she served on several committees, including as chair of Rules and Orders of Business. 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Photo source: United States Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1989, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Cuban American elected to Congress. She was also the first Republican woman elected to the House from Florida. Previously she had served as Florida’s first Hispanic woman to serve in the State House of Representatives in 1982 and the first to serve in the Florida Senate in 1986.  

In 2011, she gave the first Republican response to the State of the Union address in Spanish in, and gave the third in 2014. Throughout the course of her career she was elected to fourteen full terms, never winning with less than 58%.

Aida Álvarez

Aida Álvarez, Photo source: latinocf.org

Aida Álvarez is a Puerto Rican businesswoman, journalist and politician. From 1997 – 2001, she served as the 20th Administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Bill Clinton and was the first Latina ever to serve in a Cabinet-level position. 

Prior to her role as Small Business Administrator, Aida served as the first Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, appointed by President Clinton in 1993.

Sonia Sotomayor 

Latinas in politics

Sonia Sotomayor, Photo source: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway source, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sonia Sotomayor is currently an associate justice of the Supreme Court. In 2009, she was nominated by President Barack Obama becoming the third woman to hold the position and the first Latina, and first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.

During her time on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has championed for social issues and been identified with concern for the rights of defendants. She has called for reform of the criminal justice system, making impassioned dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity.

Listen to your favorite books by Latinas on Audible today!

You might be interested: Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor teaches children how to build a better world in her new book

Catherine Cortez Masto

Official portrait of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) Date 9 January 2017. Source: senate.gov/

Catherine Cortez Masto is an American lawyer and politician serving as the senior United States senator from Nevada since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 32nd attorney general of Nevada from 2007 to 2015. 

She became the first woman elected to represent Nevada in the Senate and the first Latina elected to serve in the upper chamber, taking office in 2017. Later, in 2019, she became Nevada’s senior senator. 

“I think there’s an important role for women to play. And I’m all about tearing down those barriers,” she said in 2017 to NBC News. “I have always said it’s important to have diversity in the United States Senate.”

These Latinas are just a few of many who have broken down barriers to pave the way for greater representation of Latinas in politics. 

According to LatinasRepresent, an initiative led by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda to increase Latina participation throughout the civic engagement continuum, Latinas currently only makeup 2.6% of Congress. With Latinos making up over 18% of the US population, with 26 million being Latinas, this group needs more leaders representing them. 

Let us continue to support and make room for Latinas in politics and elect them to government positions so that the powerhouse population that is Latinas has their voices heard.


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latinas in the workplace

How your employer can better support Latina and minority women in the workplace

Latinas are a powerhouse population both as entrepreneurs and in the workplace, yet continue to be underrepresented in higher leadership roles in Corporate America. 

According to the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Latinas are the fastest growing sector of the entrepreneurial market, yet remain underpaid and underrepresented at all stages of the career pipeline. Currently, Latinas account for less than 2% of executives and hold less than 3% of all corporate board seats.

Additionally, Latinas still have the lowest earnings of any major race or ethnicity and gender group, earning on average, 43% less than white men and 28% less than white women. As of today, Latinas earn on average only 55 cents to the dollar paid to white, non-hispanic men. This wage gap has hardly moved in over 30 years, and the longstanding pay disparities Latinas face have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. 

Women of color across the board were disproportionately affected during the pandemic, with Black and Latina women suffering the greatest job losses, with many working in some of the hardest-hit industries such as hospitality, healthcare, and service. Women of color were also more likely to leave their jobs to take on caregiving responsibilities for their children and family members. 

With these unique challenges facing Latina women across all levels of industry, it’s important that employers implement methods and resources to better support their Latina employees and be better allies to this diverse group of women. 

Listen to books by your favorite Latina authors on Audible today! 

How to be a better support Latinas and minority women in the workplace

In an MSNBC article highlighting the Latina experience in the workplace, one of the key issues they face in the workplace is the pressure to mask their identity as Latinas and conform to traditionally white, male standards to fit in and be taken seriously in executive positions. 

Many Latinas feel they cannot be themselves in the workplace and must “check their identity at the door.” 

NextUP found four key aspects of the Latina experience that hinder success at work and that employers can address in the workplace to create a more inclusive environment: 

Bias: Latina women say they are held back by assumptions and stereotypes that their cultural identifiers indicate a lack of intelligence, or they aren’t interested in advancing their career. 

Combating these biases in the workplace will help to advance and promote Latinas to higher level roles in the workplace. Employers should create a space that is open to diversity and different points of views. Global teams need diverse employees

Social collateral: Many Latinas have a natural respect for authority, due to their upbringing. This can make it challenging for Latinas to ask for credit when credit is due.

Creating a space where all work and contributions are valued and proper credit is given will help to support Latinas in the workplace. Fostering an environment where Latinas feel comfortable to speak up, set boundaries, and communicate their needs is crucial to being a better ally to Latinas in the workplace. 

You might be interested: 4 Tips for Latina and minority women on setting boundaries in the workplace

The corporate script: Latinas often feel as though they have to hide their accent and alter their natural persona (code switch) to fit in and be respected at work. 

Employers can combat this challenge by creating a diverse and inclusive environment that celebrates all identities and cultures. Creating diverse teams with people of different backgrounds and ethnicities will help combat the traditional, ingrained script of what Corporate America “should” look like and remind Latinas that there is no mold to fit into when it comes to being a leader. 

Emotional intelligence: Many Latinas believe they have emotional intelligence, but that it is questioned at work.

Employers can better support their Latina employees by dismantling preconceived notions about Latina women and creating an environment with open communication and equal respect. 

Supporting Latinas and minority women in the workplace is crucial for advancing their success and keeping women in the workforce post-COVID. With so many women forced out of jobs in recent years, supporting minority women in the workplace is more important that ever. Employers, companies, and organizations need to continue to create inclusive and diverse spaces where Latinas and other women can thrive. 


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Latina entrepreneur, Life 100 Podcast

Meet Rosie, the Latina entrepreneur amplifying diverse voices with “Life 100” Podcast

Meet “Rosie”, a Latina entrepreneur, content creator, and producer and host of Life 100 Podcast, a bilingual English and Spanish podcast featuring insightful stories, remarkable guests, and everyday tips for life. The podcast celebrates Hispanic diversity, creativity, and living to the fullest. 

Meet Rosie, Latina entrepreneur, content creator, and host of Life 100 Podcast. (Photo courtesy of Rosie)

A life-long learner and dreamer, Rosie came to the US from Puerto Rico to attend university in Florida. Today, she lives in Texas and is working to amplify the voices and experiences of Latinas with her platform. 

“Representation matters,” she says. “Growing up in Puerto Rico, it was a challenge to see all of our beautiful faces and great accomplishments represented in the media.”

The representation she grew up with was lacking and incomplete. She grew up surrounded by people who were a living example of diversity and inclusion. 

Her parents always provided her with examples of diverse cultures, physical attributes, professions, and more. Yet representation in the media still had a long way to go.

Now, Rosie is determined to create the things she wished existed when she was growing up. 

“I am constantly inspired by the memory of my parents. Their descendants inherited their tenacity and determination. I know they are proud of our accomplishments, of seeing us breaking barriers, moving forward, and pursuing our dreams while making the world a better place.” 

Rosie’s parents, Luis and Maria, were a big inspiration in her entrepreneurial journey and always encouraged her to follow her dreams. (Photo courtesy of Rosie).

People call Rosie “The Visionary,” because she is honest in sharing that “I don’t know how, but we will find out.” Rosie is always looking for ways to make her dreams a reality and help others on their journeys as well. Her own podcast started as one of these visionary situations where she had something to share with the world but did not yet know-how, so she found a way and made a path for herself. 

“I started podcasting as a result of what the world considered a failure, my presentation for a conference in town was not chosen,” Rosie shares. “I had worked on this presentation for weeks and it would have been a disservice to not share it so I investigated ways to share these ideas with the world.” 

Rosie’s goals were to share her presentation in a way that was easily accessible, convenient, available on-demand, highly engaging, free of charge to the listener, downloadable, and shareable. These objectives led her to the world of podcasting and soon Rosie was learning everything about the podcasting industry from the technical aspects of it, audio recording and editing, submission to listening platforms, and the business aspects of it, including forming the legal entity, marketing, promotion, and daily operations. 

Finally, on February 27, 2020, Rosie published the first episode of her podcast. Launching right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit meant there were some challenges and struggles along the way, but Rosie met those challenges head-on and persevered.

Check out: 5 Podcasts every Latina entrepreneur should be listening to 

Start your own podcast here

Rosie finally made her dreams a reality on February 27, 2020 when she launched Life 100 Podcast. (Photo courtesy of Rosie)

Follow Rosie on social media! And listen to Life 100 Podcast. 

She shares some words of advice to aspiring Latina entrepreneurs on how to navigate and overcome challenges: 

“Launching a business is a process with everyday challenges and opportunities,” she says. “Remember, your passion and commitment will be critical factors in overcoming roadblocks along the path of your new business. Yes, it will take time, money, lack of sleep, and maybe working other jobs while building your new venture.  Resources are abundant, free of charge in many cases, to guide you and inspire you along the way. Ask questions, ask for help. Practice presenting your business concept and its value proposition. Nurture your enthusiasm, and do not fall into the trap of denial.  Discipline and adaptability will play a role in your success.  Try and try again, get out of your comfort zone, keep your vision alive, and be humble enough to accept change when needed. Value progress instead of perfection. When you achieve success in your business venture, remember to help others do the same.” 

You might be interested: From backyard chef to restaurant owner, Chef Yala shares her entrepreneurial journey and rise to success

Rosie is grateful for the opportunities her podcast has opened up for her thus far, from meeting new inspiring people to share their voices and their diversity with the world, it has been “a beautiful journey,” she says. 

She hopes to continue to amplify Latina voices and promote diversity as she expands the Life 100 Podcast into a full-time venture. 

“Your voice matters. It is never too late. Be determined to move forward. Pa’lante amigas. Go and make it happen! I look forward to sharing your story.” 


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Latina tech entrepreneur Paola Santana owns her CEO title in a male-dominated industry

Paola Santana is a lawyer, public procurement expert, and Latina tech entrepreneur, creating the next breakthrough in government systems. 

She’s the founder and CEO of Social Glass, a government software ecosystem using artificial intelligence and exponential technologies to digitize, streamline, and scale public procurement systems and processes, and enable better decision-making in the public sector across the United States and Latin America.

Best known for her ability to create things from scratch at the intersection of the public, private and regulatory domains, and for her track record of introducing cutting-edge technologies into highly-regulated markets, her most recent experience includes co-drafting the public-private partnership enabling the first multi-state Hyperloop system in the United States. 

Previously, she co-founded Matternet, a Silicon Valley company pioneering drone logistics networks. Under her leadership, Matternet engaged with The White House, US Congress, FAA, and NASA to enact the first drone regulation in the United States in 2016, and became the world’s first drone delivery platform authorized for permanent operations over a populated city in 2017.

In addition to her entrepreneurial ventures, Paola currently serves as Faculty at Singularity University and Mentor for the Social Entrepreneurship Labs Incubator at Stanford University and Google AI.

Latinas in Male-Dominated Industries: Who’s the Boss?

Last month, Paola shared her experience of being a Latina entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry during the 4th National Conversation with Latina Leaders: Latinas & Success

Latina tech entrepreneur

Paola Santana, Latina tech entrepreneur and CEO of Social Glass. (Photo courtesy of Paola Santana)

Traditionally, male-dominated industries and occupations are particularly vulnerable to reinforcing harmful stereotypes and creating unfavorable environments that make it even more difficult for women to excel. Despite these struggles, Paola was able to overcome those stereotypes and achieve success as a Latina entrepreneur in the tech industry. 

“It’s very hard to see where you can get when you don’t see someone like you doing those things,” Paola says. 

Paola began her career as a lawyer but branched off into the world of government and tech so she could pursue her desire of creating change and opportunities globally. 

In her twelve years within these male-dominated industries, Paola has seen and experienced firsthand the obstacles women face. 

One recurring struggle is that many women are not given credit for their work or given the appropriate titles. Many times women themselves will underplay their roles and their value in male-dominated industries. 

Other times, women are inventing new roles, navigating uncharted territories, and breaking barriers without owning their positions. 

“Every woman that is running anything from their little business in their brain, is just like, ‘Oh, this is my side business.’ Like, No, you’re the CEO of that business. That’s number one,” said Paola. “So to every woman out there that doesn’t feel like they’re running something, just own your title. You are the CEO of that thing that you’re running day to day, whether that’s a project internally in a big corporation, or that’s your own business.” 

This Latina tech entrepreneur recounted her early career in law in the Dominican Republic and how she learned to own her title as a founder and entrepreneur. 

“I used to work at the National Elections Court in the Dominican Republic. I co-created the first Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic from scratch.” Still, she struggled to own her title at the time. Once she gave a name to her position and realized she was creating something new, she began to really see the path of her career open up before her. 

It’s hard to see where you can go when you are the first one doing it in your industry or there aren’t others like you to look up to. 

“You’re going to be uncomfortable, but you’re creating a new vision for what that role can be for you and for many people behind you,” said Paola. 

“So I do believe that is important to yes, inspire others, but also to tell others, you know what you’re doing, nobody has done it. So you need to duel the pros and cons. You’re a little bit alone, but at the same time, that means you don’t have to fit into anybody’s mold because you’re a whole new category of something. And I feel like that’s how I’ve carved my way into what I’m doing right now.”

Watch the full panel below

We need to have diverse people at the table

Diversity and representation across all industries are important and crucial. Sometimes, you may not be working in a male-dominated industry but you could be in an industry that was shaped or designed by men. 

Paola touches on this issue as well. “You feel out of touch or out of many things because this industry was not created to embrace you or to even embrace who you are or how you think,” she said. 

“So my perception is that you would always feel uncomfortable. And being uncomfortable—while not something you should embrace all the time—is an outcome of growing and going into places where nobody has been there before you. And that means creating larger tables. I tell everybody, investors, and people that work with me, I tell them: What’s the point? How can you create global products, if you don’t have a global team? And a global team means that you need to have diverse people at the table.” 

Leaders and pioneers of the industry need to prioritize these issues and create those larger tables that give everyone a seat. 

As a leader, mentor, and Latina tech entrepreneur, Paola Santana is working to make room at the table for more women like her and others who have been overlooked before. Through conversation and action, we can bring together Latinas and minority women and open doors for greater opportunities across all industries. 

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Sandy Tejada

Actress Sandy Tejada speaks candidly on overcoming obstacles as a Latina in Hollywood

During our March 25th virtual event, Latinas & Success: What It Takes to Make it in America, speakers and panelists explored if the American Dream is still possible for Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs, and shared the obstacles and barriers they overcame to get to the top.

In our first panel,  How to Overcome Being a Latina, a Woman and an Immigrant to Achieve Success, actress Sandy Tejada spoke candidly about her journey as a Latina in Hollywood and the struggles she has faced and overcome in the industry. 

Sandy Tejada

Latina actress and model, Sandy Tejada. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Tejada)

Proud of her Dominican heritage, Sandy was born in Manhattan, New York and raised by a single mother and is a bright, up and coming young star, attracting a lot of attention from directors who often compare her to J. Lo. Still, she is very much her own flavor. 

She has acted in productions such as FBI, playing the role of the wife of actor David Zayas;  The Deuce, co-starring James Franco;  Angelfish playing the best friend of rapper Princess Nokia, stage name of Destiny Nicole Frasqueri;  Goatface, produced by Hasan Minhaj.  

Most recently, Sandy opened the reboot of the first season of the famous original series Sex and the City called And Just Like That, on HBO Max and shared screen with Sarah Jessica Parker.  She appears in the first episode of the series and in her role, Sandy personifies the hostess of a well-known restaurant host in New York City.

“Growing up watching episodes of the Sex and the City series, I was always inspired by the free and easy character of Sarah Jessica Parker.  I never imagined that I, being Afro-Latina, would participate in this program that would become a cultural phenomenon after so many years,” said Sandy. 

Her mother was a huge influence in her life, bestowing upon her the wisdom to achieve the American dream, and to seize control of her own destiny. Her mother instilled in her an appreciation for learning, encouraging her to first focus on her education as a solid foundation to then pursue her dreams. 

And Sandy’s big dream was to perform. As a young girl, Sandy loved acting and making people laugh. She would reenact scenes from popular Hispanic shows for her family and was always drawn to fun, interesting roles. 

“I always wanted to play the roles where they switched it up,” she said during the Latina & Success panel. 

Acting was also a way to escape the often turbulent times growing up in a single-parent immigrant household. 

Still, despite challenges, Sandy was determined to succeed and she excelled in everything she set her mind to. Modeling, dancing, swimming, basketball, and softball were some of the ways that Sandy got to show off her natural talents. 

She attended St. Francis College on a four year Presidential Academic Scholarship, and majored in Communications with a concentration in Film and Broadcasting. At St. Francis she was exposed to the world of television, theatre and film, which allowed her to further pursue her love and passion for acting. 

 

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“Not Spanish-looking enough for roles”

As she began breaking out into the industry, Sandy soon found herself facing new challenges, primarily around diversity and inclusion. One of her biggest on-going challenges is that she is often not considered for roles based on her looks. Due to stereotypes in the industry, many do not consider her to “look Spanish enough” for Latina roles. Casting directors expect a certain stereotypical look for Latina characters, but Sandy does not fit this rigid mold. 

“For Hollywood, when you watch TV and film, it’s basically a Latin role requires someone with dark hair, dark eyes, pale skin. And so my dad was Black and my mom was white and I look like this, I’m mixed,” said Sandy. “People don’t often believe me when I tell them I’m Dominican. Dominicans don’t even believe me that I’m Dominican. That’s the biggest challenge I have is that I’m not Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz looking, I’m Afro-Latina.” 

She has been told she is not white enough for roles or not biracial enough for roles and not Spanish enough for roles. She has tried to change herself to fit the mold, wearing wigs and trying to lighten her skin but still the struggle to fit in and get roles continues. This struggle is part of a larger problem within Hollywood and the work that still needs to be done to expand diversity and inclusion for actors. 

Watch the full panel below

Facing these obstacles has motivated Sandy to push for greater representation and diversity in media. 

“My greatest wish is to pave the way for greater representation of Latinxs in film and television,” Sandy said.

To other Latinas looking to get into the industry, Sandy emphasizes the power of giving back. Together we can all find success and realize the American Dream.  

“To get a little you have to give a little,” she said. “And pay it forward. So if I help you, you help the next Latina and then we can all grow together and that’s how we can become stronger and more successful together.” 

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