Cafecito & Conversation with Adelante’s Co-Leads
- Posted on September 15, 2020
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Two things are clear when it comes to diversity and inclusion in corporate America: It yields tangible, research-backed benefits, and it’s no longer negotiable. Racial diversity has proved itself to lead improved perspectives, innovation and even increased profits. Yet Latinx Americans make up a small 17% of the corporate workforce and only occupy 4% of executive positions, making Hispanic Americans the minority group with one of the largest gaps between labor force and executive representation.
When looking at the data, the saying “ponte las pilas,” is tragically applicable. The old Spanish-idiom directly translates to “put on your batteries,” and is common advice passed down by elders to get motivated and get going. So here we are.
Betty Martinez and Mina Rabideaux are both Latina-identifying millennials in the tech industry and are passionate about impacting change in the workplace as the co-leads of Adelante, Avanade’s Latinx employee network.
For their early-morning chat, Mina drops into the Microsoft Teams meeting from her vibrant Chicago apartment and Betty joins from her plant-filled Brooklyn space – both with a cafecito in hand. Below is their charla in all its glory.
What got you started with Adelante?
Betty: About a year ago, a colleague reached out to gauge my interest in restarting Avanade’s Latinx employee network, as it had been in a dormant stage for quite some time. I’ve always felt passionate about racial equality in my personal life, but when it comes to the workplace, the passion I had took on a different meaning. Let’s just say, compartmentalizing who you are fundamentally for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks of the year takes a toll on an employee’s well-being, inside and outside of work.
Mina: I completely agree. Being a minority in tech can be an extremely isolating experience, one that you only truly understand if you’ve been there. When I first started my career, I took on this experience alone but slowly but surely, I learned the power in community. That is what I try to develop at Avanade through several plus-one roles and why I am especially passionate about bringing more Black and brown colleagues and allies together. Especially after this year of chronic racism and bigotry in every headline, I knew that I needed more support at Avanade, even if that meant leading the charge.
What drives you to take this on?
Betty: If just one Latinx person at Avanade feels represented or supported because of the space Adelante provides, all the blood, sweat and tears are worth it. Full disclosure, the only blood we’ve seen is from paper cuts.
Mina: Personally, what drives me to take this on is a desire to contribute to racial equity in the workplace and help diversify Avanade’s culture. I love working here and it matters to me that I am comfortable at work and that I help others feel the same.
What reminds you of your heritage?
Mina: My heritage is steeped in traditions, and almost anything can trigger a warm memory that is tied back to my family and the little things that we do year after year. One of those traditions is playing card games after dinner into the wee hours in the morning. Loteria was a favorite – it’s similar to bingo and filled with bright artistic playing cards and markers that can be anything from coins to frijoles. It was something that all generations were a part of from little kids to tias to abuelitas. It is all about passing things down and on, that is how we keep our traditions alive years later and away from our homeland.
Betty: Mina, the fact that you brought up Loteria just transported me to my grandparents’ festively tiled porch in Honduras. When I was a kid, my parents would fly me out to stay with them for the summer break, and I would run down to the pulperia to buy churros and a fresco for a game of Loteria. Being a first-generation American means the food, the music, the games – like Loteria – mean so much more. They symbolize a connection between two or more cultures.
What are the plans for Adelante?
Mina: My plans for Adelante revolve around empowering our Latinx community. First is through more traditional professional development. I hope Adelante members find mentors who look like them, a community who will promote their visibility, and cheerleaders who will help them further their careers. Second, I want Adelante members find a safe space to connect with people who can help them through the unavoidable challenges of being a minority in tech. We are lucky to work at a company like Avanade, and with a community to call our own we will be unstoppable.
How can people get involved?
Betty: During the revival of Adelante, I’ve learned that it takes a village. We’re building this employee network from the ground up, so the timing to get involved couldn’t get any better – from helping with one event to becoming a part of our core team and dedicating time year-round. Now is the time to make your mark on Adelante. Juntos Podemos.
Ponte las pilas. You are not alone, some of the work has already begun but we have a long way to go. Join in on the fun and help us build a thriving Latinx community here at Avanade. There’s no better time than a new fiscal year and Hispanic Heritage Month to come together. To relish in the festivities, the Adelante team is hosting its inaugural FY21 event – Día de Lotería in effort of bringing our community together on September 17th at 4:30 EST / 1:30 PST. Avanade employees can find Adelante on Yammer or reach out to Mina and me to learn more!