How Avanade's Latinx Employee Network helped me find community as a Latina in tech
- Posted on October 13, 2020
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Brittney Rodriguez.
First thing’s first, my name is Brittney Rodriguez and I am a Latina in the tech industry from Houston, Texas. What you might not know about me is that I was raised by a single mother of two, and of my extended family, I am a first-generation university graduate, the first to move out of my family home across the country, and the first to join corporate America. All these factors make my journey to the tech industry a unique one.
Oftentimes, being a Latina in tech can lead to an isolating experience. So much so, I realized I had conditioned myself to “fit the mold,” just focus on work, and normalize having few genuine connections in the workplace.
This past July, I stood up as one of the founders of Adelante, Avanade’s Latinx Employee Network. Initially, I thought my involvement would be limited to a behind-the-scenes position, like creating content and advancing slides. When I started getting pulled into calls across the organization, I began to question what this meant for me. Because of experiences in past roles, I thought this too would be one of those “learning opportunities,” which often translated to administrative tasks to keep track of that no one else wanted to do.
Fast forward to Thursday, Sept. 17, Adelante’s first event, one that I will never forget! It was at this event that I felt a different level of “a sense of community” and acceptance. Not only did everyone love our innovative game of virtual Loteria (which I had fun creating), but it was also the first time I was comfortable speaking Spanish and engaging in conversations at a work event. To some, this might not seem like a big deal, but understand that in my seven years of industry experience, I’ve never done this before, and on this day, I was able to speak and feel proud of my family background and heritage with so much ease that I forgot I was at a work event for a bit. It felt like I was at a family event chatting with and sharing stories with over 100 of my extended family and friends. It was a truly beautiful experience to see the cultural exchange between various Latinx and Hispanic employees at Avanade all on one call, for an event I took part in planning and hosting. It left me with an indescribable feeling. To see all our hard work come to fruition and have such a lasting impact on the Avanade employees who attended, these moments are the ones that encourage me to want to stay in tech.
Finding this community at work inspired me to also seek it out in Seattle, somewhere I have historically struggled to connect with my culture. I didn’t want the celebration to stop – I felt that I needed to continue reveling in my heritage. So, I embarked on a journey to find a local Mexican grocery store to introduce Loteria to my multi-cultural family in Seattle. When I found one blocks from where I live, I wandered through each aisle grabbing treats I grew up eating, sharing stories and engaging in lengthy conversations with the workers. Being in that store brought about an overwhelming sense of joy. It made me reflect and think about how HAPPY and RELIEVED I was to find a place that reminded me so much of home.
I share these stories to express how INSPIRE and Adelante played a vital role in giving me an outlet outside of my role in tech to connect with others who have shared experiences, and who understand without having to explain your differences and “why they matter.” I share these stories to emphasize how employee networks create a safe space for the Black and Latinx communities in workplaces to go to for professional development, to build a sense of community, and to be their true and authentic selves.
Today, I can say I’m proud to share and celebrate my differences inside and outside of work. Although my tech journey is not a usual one, it is one I will continue to share through mentorship with like-minded students and early career professionals, who are trying to figure their way through the tech industry.