Fostering a Latinx Community in Tech (With Stripe's Alexandra Paredes & Booz Allen Hamilton's Tatiana Carett)
Elias Torres: Hey, this is Elias Torres, co founder and CTO of Drift. Did you know that drift is part of the just two percent of VC backed startups led by Latin American founders? Well, I am aiming to change that. I want to highlight stories of underrepresented leaders and help change the face of corporate America. Once a month, you'll hear inspiring stories from other underrepresented leaders as we work to build our own American dream. Hit the subscribe button to make sure you get the new episodes when they drop. In the meantime, follow me on twitter @ elliast and subscribe to get quarterly updates at drift comm slash American dash drink.
Elias Torres: foreign language. Alexandra Perez. foreign language.
Alexandra Perez: My name is Ale Perez or as Alexandra, what everyone calls me Ale. I grew up in Venezuela, I studied computer science there. And six years ago, I moved to the US. And now I'm in New York working as a VP of Indian inaudible and also working with Tatiana, and our thing are Latinas in Tech to grow our Latinas community in New York City.
Elias Torres: Yeah, Foreign language yes. Congratulations. Amazing. We have a woman engineer in a Vice President of engineer of a Tech company in New York City, as well very proud of you. What about you Tatiana?
Tatiana: Well, thank you so much for having Latinas in tech here at Thrift. We're super excited for this opportunity to talk to the audience too about something so important, which is being Latinas and tech, and just very briefly about me, born in New York raised in Caracas Venezuela crosstalk Believe it or not, Allah and I grew up like 10 minutes apart from each other. crosstalk but we only met crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: But it was meant to be
Tatiana: It was meant to be. We met like crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: inaudible Colombiana We have Consuelo and Solano. Foreign language
Tatiana: Yeah. And basically, I am a management consultant at a fund called Booz Allen Hamilton. But my passion is really health Tech, and also working with Latinos in Tech, as part of the board of the New York City chapter and building community. There's so much to do, and we're really excited to talk about that.
Elias Torres: Yeah, no, we are definitely very passionate, I think something a commitment that we made a drift to use David and I by, our heritage, our backgrounds, and to really help the Latino community, right? the Latin x community in tech to be able to grow promoted, right? and create opportunities for us to succeed in higher numbers than it is today. Today, we want to talk about three different things. We want to talk about things like, the idea is to we have gotten feedback and saying like, " What can we do to help our people, Latin X community in tech?" And one of the things that everybody struggles with is the bias, the cultural bias in hiring, right? And so like, what do you think, who wants to tell me a story? Who wants to tell me? What is the problem here, Right?
Alexandra Perez: I mean, I think there are many problems I can expect from like my personal experience. I think one of the most challenging things. For me, moving from Venezuela to the US was realizing that as soon as I got into an interview under crowd, I realized that I was a woman, and English was not my first language. The tone of the call immediately changed. And it was a great learning experience for me, because it makes me realize, I don't want to work on a company that, reacts this way, right? Like if the recruiter is reacting this way. That means that the biases are, spread out across the company. But it's also very hard to experience that, when you know, you're like doing your best to practice for this interview, you put so much effort and Some companies don't realize like, " Hey, I am not doing my part in making the candidates feel comfortable or welcome." So, yeah.
Elias Torres: How do we fix that?
Alexandra Perez: How do we fix that? I mean, I think crosstalk
Elias Torres: How do we help, as that we are experiencing that maybe when we go into a meeting, what advice can we give people?
Alexandra Perez: I think something particularly on my phone right now that I have put a lot of effort in my team and I'm very lucky that I have a team that is super receptive to his feedback and wants to better, is basically coaching everyone right? We, candidates come from very different backgrounds. They may feel comfortable or uncomfortable with certain behaviors, and we need to be aware of those behaviors and try to change them, right? That's how you can drive change, and if its somewhere that change is coming from the top and the message is across a company, that's normal, right?
Elias Torres: You think it's easier?
Alexandra Perez: I mean, it's definitely a lot of effort.
Elias Torres: This is really hard.
Alexandra Perez: Yes.
Elias Torres: This is a problem that one unconscious bias training, one hour of training is not going to solve how people grew up, and what prejudice they might have towards someone that is different than them.
Alexandra Perez: I think it's consistency, something that I talk a lot, and you're like, very conscious of how it's like the way I speak, and the way I expect others to communicate. So I'm constantly sending the same message, I'm constantly providing that feedback. And even when we're in thick, engineering may feel like, it doesn't require us to talk about our feelings. So, you just be mindful of all the words I use. I try to bring a lot of humanity into, what we're doing, right? Because, engineers like building a thing. It's like, full of humans. So being mindful of the words, the way you speak is pretty important.
Tatiana: Yeah. And, I agree with Alle, there's so many things when you talk about cultural and gender bias, and there's so many biases, right? I know, we're talking about being Latin X in tech, but what about being LGBTQ?
Alexandra Perez: A woman.
Tatiana: Being a woman, being African American, having a disability. We're kind of in this interesting role where we're championing not just for us, but so many different people who are not part of the majority, right? And so, my recommendation, or suggestion to you is, prepare yourself as much as you can, because nothing can take away from your strengths. If you have skills that are, if you have data analytics, or if you're great at coding or if you're an amazing designer, you're preparing yourself to be a professional, nothing is going to take away from that, right? So you can go into that interview with confidence and say, I've done this, I felt that, look at my portfolio, that's how you counteract that, because there is a different expectation that we're not up to snuff. But you're going to go out there and shine and be the best you can be by preparing yourself.
Elias Torres: Its so much better than being here by myself, talking to the camera all the time. Thank you for being here. I think, crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: Thank you for having us.
Elias Torres: yeah, I feel like one of the things that Latinos, Latinas, we share, right? Is this, this immigrant journey, right? It might not be first generation it might be second, but it's like, we have that mentality that we expect hardship. We come here, I came here I wasn't expecting even a welcoming. They want to give me a master's program, they're going to give me an apartment and a house in a car, here's your car keys. I didn't have anything. So when I came here, I expected that right? And so I think that that mentality is sometimes I call it the rebel nature in us, is to what we have to lean on and keep fighting to overcome that stuff. Right? Preparation, keep trying, don't give up and I think that is a very interesting time in America, because people are concerned, right? People are finally starting to bring those stats, those diversity stats into it. And there's another solution but that's the place where we can start, right? If a company has a goal, then we work on this numbers, starts from the leadership and then we can use that to our advantage to get a shot. To get our foot in the door and prove to people that we can do the same as anybody else. But I think that another thing you just brought in is like a segue into the second one, which is how do you break through? How about if you find a mentor? What if you find crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: There is something that I quote, from I forget who I'm sorry, but that basically says something like, " They were cities, getting people into, inviting people into a party, but making people feeling close and belong is making sure that everyone can dance." And I think, definitely, that's like, for me, personally, that was one of the biggest challenges. I'm super grateful, on the Korean opportunity that I had, I joined Hook line as a senior software engineer, and I have been able to grow so much. And it's thanks to the support. I have my manager, helping me with coaching and all of these different themes. But at the same time, it's hard to find mentors that are coming with the same background or with similar backgrounds. I can understand kind of like not only what I want to be as a technical in engineering but also, over expectations of my life like, I have family and for the Latino community its pretty common that you take care of your family, you support your mother, your brothers. And there are all of these different expectations that some people that different community from us may not be aware of. Even the way we that I speak as a leader is often very different to what is expected of leadership. So I think something that I learned is not to change myself, because of that expectation of what a successful leader is supposed to be, and be comfortable and helping others be comfortable with who I am. But it's like hard, it's a lot of work, or it's like a lot of emotional labor that you have to make to conflict change, or people's minds.
Elias Torres: Huge concern, right? And I'm always like, how should I talk? How should I say, how should I present this my talk look like the one on the TED conference. And so, I hired a speaking coach and David too said, You're not speaking the way you speak normally when you're preparing in the room, just be normal, be yourself. We just have to be comfortable and be who we are and our culture. We were having a discussion we have a Facebook Live in the room, where should we not be Latinos and be out go walk around and do the Facebook live and I was like, " Its the only way we can be."
Tatiana: Yeah, ourselves.
Elias Torres: ourselves.
Tatiana: yeah. So going back to the whole mentor conversation, and one thing that I will distinguish is, we've heard of mentors, and that's great. And there's also sponsors, okay, so let's talk about that, too. Because as you're trying to advance your career, a mentor is someone that's guiding you that's really providing a lot of career feedback and advice and say, " You should talk this way." Or, " You should present things that way," right? Or" Your data analytics skills aren't great, maybe you should do some training." A sponsor is someone higher up within your organization that really has the authority to provide you opportunities where you can shine, and where you can show your skill set. So you know, it depends on which company you're in. Some companies are very large, so it is hard to get those opportunities but the mentors you can find pretty much anywhere you can find mentors, if you're a member and Latinas in tech. We have a mentorship program that we just began, it's very small or crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: Hopefully it grows inaudible
Tatiana: Yeah, hopefully it grows, or if you're part of a professional membership Association, whether it's like women code or something else, where you find a like minded individual who really takes upon his or herself to show you the ropes. So I mean, it's kind of like a friendship, right? You start this friendship with someone who's invested in you and I feel like mentorship opportunities sometimes flip, right? You may have someone who's more junior to you, and you take them on, and you show them the ropes. And then they're doing the same as they grow with someone younger than them. So it's a nice little cycle that you see that builds on itself.
Elias Torres: Fantastic. Those two things, because, one is that there are plenty of mentors out there. There's plenty of people that want to help. We need to take action and go find them. All right? Second, if you cannot find mentors, go be a mentor. You can help someone. There's something that you've done, that somebody else has not yet done that needs help with, right? So be a mentor, but I like the clarification of something that you think that everybody knows what a sponsor is?
Alexandra Perez: I don't think so.
Elias Torres: It's not. I think it's something that that is more recent, or at least we're defining it could be more tactical now right? Which is a sponsor, if that person is like an X fantastic, right? Because understand if that person is from your same country, if he immigrated, if he knows you're great, but if not, go find a sponsor. Go to someone that you can make an alliance with, right? That when you're in a meeting, and you're presenting an idea and you feel like every time you present something, it gets shut down. You get somebody to say help me, right? Helped me present my idea, support my idea
Tatiana: or at least give me an opportunity. crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: I think the inaudible are my sponsorship is critical because anyone can be a sponsor. So at least to have, underrepresented communities. They can be a sponsor too right? They have the power to change kind of like to create more equity for everyone.
Elias Torres: In enterprise sales, this thing I'm drinking soda here, there's this thing called the economic buyer, right? And this is the champion so those are terms that you use as you're navigating the sales process with the company. The champion has to have, not just likes you and supports you, they have to have power. Right? Any authority. So I do think that we do have to get some tighter definition of sponsorship and saying, " Find someone that has some power."
Alexandra Perez: Influence crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: Power is extremely important, resources can make decisions, can be decided on projects on future initiatives, can put you there, can give you a shot at it. Because that should be a strict definition because you want to be able to find people like that to help you. And it's an important thing that we got to use, instead of trying to do it all by ourselves. I just hear Latin X just say, " I'll figure this out on my own. I'm gonna make the mistakes, I get," crosstalk
Tatiana: And it takes years. crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: you don't have to run brain bender well crosstalk
Elias Torres: It takes too long. And we got to use the network, right?
Tatiana: And we ourselves can be sponsors, right? If we're in a position of authority within our own companies, I'm very lucky because in my phone, we have career managers, and you're supposed to touch base with them once a month. And you talk about your goals, you talk about, what you're doing, your projects and how you're doing and where are the challenges? Not everybody has that, and so it's like find someone where you can really discuss with, " Okay, these are some things that I'm stuck in. What are some suggestions?"
Elias Torres: I think it's very actionable. I think everybody should really pay attention to these things, right? That we go to companies and we're talking about the dance being invited, which we're asking about being able to dance right? Feeling comfortable dancing, I'm not a good dancer, believe or not. So it's a tough analogy. For me, I don't want to be on the floor but I wish. I think that what we're saying is that, I see people, tech leavers, we join companies and then we end up leaving quietly. Because, we don't feel included, we don't feel invited. And so we can't just be there. We worked so hard to get that job to overcome that interview, when nobody wanted to talk to us, the tone changed when they heard us, when they saw us, right? And now you're saying we got the job and then we leave. Because we didn't ask, we didn't feel comfortable. And what we're saying here is you have to, in the end, if you're going to leave and then give me some feedback at the end of you left, why don't you start talking speaking right away? It's like we need to have instructions. Go find a mentor in the organization. Go find a career manager, go find a sponsor, go look for those people. Ask people and then if somebody says no, then go to the next one and ask, and then you got to find somebody that says, "I'll help you out."
Alexandra Perez: yeah. I think that's what a community and kind of like, why I feel so strongly our Latina sometimes comes in crosstalk
Elias Torres: Are you jumping into the third question?
Tatiana: Exactly crosstalk good segue. It's so important because there are many companies are figuring out how to make things work. Maybe smaller startup but then we have all of these large groups like Latinas in tech area, that can provide support, that can help you that can help you feel as you are like part of something bigger. And I think everyone should join them everyone should be, not only a passive member of the community, but an active member of the community. Bring your questions, bring your ideas, bring your challenges, because that's how the community gets richer.
Elias Torres: What we were planning to talk about was, sometimes I struggle, right? I have people say, "Help me do this." And I'm like, " How do I help?" If I go have coffee with someone and people ask me, " Give me the answers and solve all my problems. I need this job or give me this, how do I get promoted? How do I raise money?" And I'm like, " I don't know." Right? And I think that what we were talking about, when we met first over zoom, we said, " It might not be possible to provide all the answers in one meeting in that moment in time. But belonging and being part of the community allows all of us" crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: To connect
Elias Torres: To connect and to create those opportunities that sooner or later we'll help each other reach a new milestone, right? So that's the thinking about the communities. And you just made me think also, if we don't exist, this communities, we need companies to come to you and say, " How can you help us? Can you give us 10 sponsors? Can you give us 10 mentors for this, people of color in our company that we don't have any?" how do we help foster that? So I think that that's very important.
Tatiana: And we're seeing that change. I mean, we're seeing a lot of companies create employee resource groups, or diversity initiatives, you didn't see that even a couple years ago. So I think that firms and companies works are really understanding how key it is to bring everyone to the table and have inclusivity because you're building better products, you're providing better services, you're representing your customers, especially if you are competing on a global scale. That's going to give you the competitive edge.
Elias Torres: What role can community play in dealing with bias?
Alexandra Perez: That's a great question. I think one of the most important roles is bringing awareness. When, companies reach out to us, we usually share stats, we share information, feedback that we hear from our own community, and we make all of this information available to them which I think is great. I think on our part, where we can help a lot is kind of expanding the candidate poll. So instead of they go into like the same places where they source the candidates, now they have access to our community, and they can bring in all of these new, amazing Latinos into our pipeline.
Tatiana: And I would add, if you're a small firm, right? You have just X number of dollars for your HR budget, right? And so you're trying to fill, y number of slots. And so you're really thinking about how do I stretch my resources, right? So that's why a lot of funds go to the same places. But first, you have to, like she said, raise awareness, think about the issue, and understand that there's people with talent everywhere. And you have to, like she said, diversify your pool. But also, it has to be part of your culture, right? In your firm. Right? You have to understand that you're going to be working with people from all different walks of life, it has to be kind of embedded into the fabric of your culture.
Elias Torres: I think I want to bring up so many things in my mind, we were talking about I think it's something that happens to Latin x a lot is that we feel we're not good enough, that we don't have the right skills, that we don't have the right accent that we don't have the right power or the right network or something like that. Right. So and we're not when I saw this question about what role can community play? The word that came to my mind when I heard community is the network? I, very fortunate, right? I'm in this tech world, of companies like Sequoia have big law firms. I have investors, I know a lot of white co founders of companies, you know what the network gives you? Do you know how many emails I get? My younger son, my younger daughter's graduating, this person is here. This VC from this firm said, this is the lawyer the client portfolio,
Alexandra Perez: you have access to one of these resources.
Elias Torres: Right?
Tatiana: Not outside.
Elias Torres: they're not us
Tatiana: They're not outside in plain to you. crosstalk
Elias Torres: it says, do we have that? I feel and the reason why I say I feel lesser, it's like, I feel like, Latinos don't have that. Right. We don't have that powerful network that is connected we that we,
Alexandra Perez: but I think crosstalk
Tatiana: I'm gonna interrupt you a little bit. We do have the power. And we do have the knowledge. And we have the masses. We're, you know, how many Latinos are there in the United States? crosstalk
Elias Torres: in 2045 we won't be a minority crosstalk
Tatiana: Right, its about what? 70 million? crosstalk So we're not harnessing the power? crosstalk
Elias Torres: Yeah. But that's the power of the community, right? Yeah. The communities, the network. If we have one person in Latinas in tech that works at Google, or the works at Drift, that works at Slack, or Facebook or wherever, and that person is there, and they need to hire people, right? That person comes in refers people from Latinas in tech. That's how you use the community. I'm just saying we got to leverage the network, like people are already leveraging their networks. Yeah, I just don't feel comfortable doing that.
Alexandra Perez: I think that's something that when like, I thought all Latinos in tech and I felt the need of power Latinos in tech, in part is because of what you just said, for people that grew up here, especially, when they get a good economic background, they have a network they have so much easy access to, and then we are right now in a privileged position, right in our roles. We have all of this knowledge, all of these experiences. We can all come together and leverage to create that network, right for all Latinos,
Elias Torres: lets create that network.
Alexandra Perez: That's why I think like being an active member of the community is important because everyone has power, everyone has influence on their own life. So if they bring it to a community like we're stronger, just by doing that.
Elias Torres: And another thing I had asked another question where we get into another right now that said, How can we use metrics right to find bias? And I think that's, that's what I was trying to say earlier, that as companies feel more compelled to publish their stats, right? We can use those, right? If I'm, here, we're saying drift is not just about we care about diversity is that we have a number, we have a number of URLs where we want to keep moving that percentage, and I don't even don't like percentages, I like to convert percentages into absolute numbers. Instead of saying we want to move from, 1. 35, to 1. 7, just whatever the number is, you say, " we need to hire five people this quarter." And then I just look at that number. And I say, "have we hired those five people? Where are we in fire?" How do we hire one zero two three four five six seven right? And so metrics that is, we got to get companies, we got to get people to say, we have a goal, and then attach a KPI, a key performance indicator, attach a number to it, and then we can talk about it, how do we drive towards that number, that'll help us then just talking about it.
Tatiana: if you can't measure it, you can't solve it. It's going to be very amorphous. And so, having metrics will help you get to that goal more quickly.
Elias Torres: Because I have noticed that there seems to be an unconscious bias conflict between us born us raised Latin x and adult immigrant Latin x. How can we help bridge the gap between immigrant and first generation Latin x in the industry?
Tatiana: Wow, amazing question.
Elias Torres: Were you born here?
Tatiana: I was born here. But I was raised in Venezuela. So Spanish is my first language.
Elias Torres: foreign language You think you see that? Are we is there some bias between? I'm first generation immigrant too, so what do you think?
Alexandra Perez: I think there's some bias, crosstalk
Elias Torres: what's the bias say it, what is it?
Alexandra Perez: I think, for example, there are cases where I have seen some people, they don't like to speak Spanish as much as they call or they don't feel as comfortable bringing their whole selves, which is not necessarily their fault, right. What would you say?
Tatiana: So there's lots let's unpack crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: I think that is yes, it is not just one thing.
Tatiana: It's not just one thing, because you're talking about, kids like me, who were raised somewhere else and come here young enough to then grow up into the US system. And so we're, US base Latinos, right? But you feel comfortable speaking English and kind of navigating in these worlds, because you went to school here, right? You kind of grew up here
Alexandra Perez: You understand the system.
Tatiana: Exactly you understand the system. But the people who come later in life, right, they've adopted their own system, and now they're trying to adapt to this, it's harder to change behaviors and change. That would describe my mom. Okay? My mom came, in the late 70s, to study English. But then, it was very different for her. She was used to everything how, the social system was in Venezuela, which is very different from here. And it was very, very hard because we didn't have Facebook, we didn't have these social networks as we do now. Right. Well, there's also that age ism, and that age difference and generational difference.
Elias Torres: What is the conflict? You think? How can we help it?
Alexandra Perez: I think part of the conflict is being lateen x is a one word that tries to sum up so many different cultures, different ways of seeing life. And it's great that we, have fun like this work in common, which has been Latin x. But at the same time, we all need to be mindful that, coming from Israel is extremely different that I don't know than being from Puerto Rico, Dominican. And when you're doing more open and accepting our own differences, and like being able to like recognize and celebrate and which I think sometimes we try to just be one community that is like, we are all the same, and that's not true.
Tatiana: We may speak the same language, but culturally they're different. And I think it's also how you navigate society, right? So Like my mom's generation, they're very proud people, they were, trailblazers, first to go to school, and my mom was forced to go to school in her family. And so coming here, I don't want to help, right? I'm gonna do it by myself. And it's like, no, we're telling you that you need to connect with the community, so that we can provide you the resources, so you can get to your goals faster, that's how you're going to do it.
Elias Torres: I was speaking with them, I it is very powerful individual, and I was telling, sharing with this person about my background and my passion. And really, sometimes people are like, " Why? Why are Asians? Or why not Indians and underrepresented minorities or people of color, right? And why can I do that group" Its really hard, right with having a word and having the label. But one thing that this person brought up is that Latin x is actually a special culture, right? And that we are cultured, that we're coming here, and we were very adaptable, right? And we're integrating we integrate, we're much more open. So I think in this same way, this conflict, I don't know if the conflict, right, I don't have the specifics. But it's like, whatever bias we have, I think we need to be unified. We need to be helping each other. And we should welcome all of our cultures, like whenever I'm traveling anywhere in Latin America. I feel I tweeted about this the other day, as I said, " I just feel so comfortable at home." Even though I've been more time in the US than I have in Nicaragua, right? It's like, I feel great, right. And it doesn't matter. Sometimes I'm in Puerto Rico, sometimes in Santo Domingo, sometimes in thenar, Mexico
Alexandra Perez: you feel I feel at home.
Elias Torres: I feel at home. And so I think that if we're having those conflicts, we should express them, right? Or we should sometimes don't get frustrated about some of that bias. Right? And really focus on the goal, right? Which is the goals, we got to help us create a network, a community, find the mentors get access to overcome the bigger cultural bias that is that we don't have access to be at that dance. Right?
Tatiana: And we also have to stop being judgmental. I feel like that's also very generational. I think. The younger generations, we put that away, crosstalk
Elias Torres: Foreign language
Tatiana: Not at all, crosstalk
Elias Torres: life where we live Foreign language Everything. crosstalk not true. Okay. But the question from when he says, How do we deal with false allies? When they say they're helping us? Was it? Maybe not? Oh he put it there, I don't know.
Alexandra Perez: Thank you for that great question.
Elias Torres: That we have allies that want to help us, but they're false. How do we do that? Have you ever dealt with that? Tell me story.
Tatiana: Well, what's interesting is that I read this wonderful article and I forgot who the author was right now but basically talks about how a lot of companies have put in place chief diversity officers and all of these DNI efforts and metrics but when it comes time to actually doing what they need to do, they don't and so I feel like that's part of the bigger conversation is like you're just doing this to make it look pretty for marketing purposes, but you're not really moving the needle. And so crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: I think that's like one s matrix come into play like you can say you can hire this many like move the needle, and have more representation by the so much, but then what really matters is how long are these employees sustain at your company? How much are they growing? Are they really having opportunities to make meaningful contributions? Or do you just have them there
Elias Torres: entry level?
Alexandra Perez: Yeah. How are they being paid? How you know compensation wise, are we fair to everyone? So anything like if there were more transparency out that then you can really say like, Okay, this company is putting their money where their mouth is basically right that you want to make sure that you are accountable for the things that you are saying. Not just like saying them and then it sounds pretty everyone likes your, inspirational tweet, and then nothing really happens. Right?
Tatiana: And time will tell. We will see who is really doing the work and who's not because the people will leave and sorry I'm being realistic here but go ahead
Alexandra Perez: I think we get one out Get back to a question though. Luckily, I don't think I have, I don't know. I have to like think if I had a file for Sally. But I think like, if you're in a kind of like a one on one relationship, I think at some point, it will be good to hear your feedback, right? Like to come up to this person again, just say you like to leave some days. But actually, like when I asked you for help on this, you didn't come through? And what happened? I mean, you never know, this person. But helping start a conversation even when it's hard. I think it's important.
Elias Torres: So I just met you today. We were having like a prep meeting and then you said, " How are we going to fix cultural bias?" and you're like, " We cannot create a matrix. And we're gonna have scores"
Tatiana: I'm just saying that crosstalk
Elias Torres: And it's like in the process, we'll sort everything out. By the end of the prep, you're like, " Let's just bring a sledge hammer, and just break through the wall." And now you said, we were talking about false allies. And the first thing you come up with, " let's talk about this chief diversity." crosstalk you went there. No, but I think it's important, right?
Tatiana: I was talking about, so this article, and maybe we can share it later, was great, because crosstalk we should share it. I think it has wide implications, right? I'm not saying that every company, there's, some companies that have chief diversity officers that have done an amazing job in creating strategies and implementing the strategies, right? But we're starting now. So long term, longitudinal effects, we'll get to see, right? But what I'm saying is that there are some that are using it, and they're not using it completely. So it's kind of like structured to fail.
Elias Torres: We have to have the false allies is important, right? It's like, only a small percentage of companies will have a chief diversity officer. And sometimes it needs to pass the smell test right? It's a problem. It's a serious problem when we have executive sponsors of BRGs. When we have crosstalk
Tatiana: That are never available. crosstalk They're never available
Elias Torres: Is that person in there? We have our ERG for Latin x at Drift is called Cam bio and they asked me to be the executive sponsor I have to do about when in other companies, they don't even have an executive in the leadership, crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: They don't even have buying crosstalk
Elias Torres: But they don't have a person that understands that group. And it's like I seen it in many large companies. Right? So are those real allies or false allies? Right? Do they really mean what they said? I mean, sometimes I have people supporting and so people say like, " Do we stop hiring white people at this company?" That's like a serious statement. Right? Are they allies are not? I think that's what the question was trying to get to
Tatiana: Right? Yeah. And I think you just have to make people accountable. If you say, you promised this. And, here's your employee, and they, worked really hard to complete the project or, or get X number of clients, and you didn't come through, that's going to show
Elias Torres: Yeah, we have a great, " How do you handle working in a culture that fosters people with the bias? Those people who have no idea what our stories are, but they feel entitled to judges? How do you deal with being so different from those above you?"
Alexandra Perez: Well, I guess, I'm not in an environment like that right now. But I think part of making sure people understand your stories, you're talking about your story, right? you're sharing your background, and you're feeling comfortable with who you are, which is not an easy task. It sounds easy, but it's actually not. And then finding allies at work, creating those connections. It is start small, right? You create a couple of friends and that keeps growing. And then soon enough, you have support at your work. There are places that are toxic enough, where maybe you shouldn't be in those places. And then you can leverage communities like Latinas in tech or tech area to find our opportunities, right like that. Say, if I want to connect more like being able to say I need help right now. And where can I go next to move forward?
Elias Torres: Or go where the companies that want to hire. That we're inviting Climate, Drift. We're inviting you in this community to come and join us. where we want to guarantee you an invitation. We want to invite you to join companies like that, to avoid that. Right? Go where we want it. Let's go there first, right? And then we'll figure out how to do that tell your story. And then also, we have to focus on our results, right? Let's deliver, right, let's get clarity on, what is our mission? What do they hire us for? What do they need us to? What is the job to be done? And then smash those coals.
Tatiana: Exactly. And that's what I wanted to say. crosstalk people who are crosstalk No, I agree with what you're saying crosstalk I'm interrupting you so much.
Alexandra Perez: inaudible
Tatiana: But what I was going to say is crosstalk I know Latinas. What I was going to say is, some people are going to judge you no matter what. Even if you share your story, they have no way to understand. They have no way to even fathom what you went through, right? And so it's kind of like a deer and a highlights so I think how we counteract that is exactly what you said. You just got to be excellent. Hit it out of the park. crosstalk people are going to be like. " wow" because there's some people they judge you, they underestimate what you can do, and when you go in there into that client meeting and you provide three pieces of advice that nobody could have even analyzed and everyone is like, " Wow, that's right, we didn't think about this or that. They're going to see you in a different light.
Elias Torres: I think one of the areas, I was going to make a joke but now I'm not. I think for example what makes us different sometimes, is that privilege is something that hurts us. Right? Because we don't have it, we didn't grow up with it, in the way that people that were born here that are white, that have grown with it. It is the truth and this is what needs to be said. And so what happens is that when we're working at the companies, right? It's like, what is different about us? I think that the fact that the lack of privilege that we have is an advantage. I sometimes associate the privilege with a negative connotation I have. Which is, you were born and you expected to get something. You didn't expect to work harder, right? You thought you were going to get a promotion in three months. I think that if we come and we show just like we did in those jobs of picking the fruit and making the construction, and running the restaurants and cleaning the dishes and cleaning the offices. That same energy, the same passion that we have. If we bring that to the tech world then people will see oh, she works way harder, cares more about it and is not complaining. We should use the lack of privilege as an advantage.
Alexandra Perez: I think definitely that lack of privilege helps you grow on other skills which is extremely valuable. Which is being resourceful.
Elias Torres: scrappy we call it.
Alexandra Perez: yeah, often times I know, I really don't know how to do this or I don't have access to it so my mind immediately goes to like, " okay, I don't have the access to it right now but I'm going to get it. And I think having that drive is definitely something that comes from the fact that you don't have that privilege. Right? You don't take things for granted.
Elias Torres: we make each other as Latinas, with the memes with the, this is what it looks like, in Cuba, this is what it looks like in Venezuela and stuff like that but that is actually part of our secret source. Those things make the difference we bring that because we're competing global. We're competing with china, we're competing with Europe, we're competing with India and its like we have to use, and bring in that to the United States is something that will help the United States be more successful.
Tatiana: and I'll add one more quick thing there. You're right. Humility, being scrappy I think that we're no strangers to hard work.
Elias Torres: But what does it look like in times when you hear Latin X. Did we bridge the inequality? Did the gap between Latin x and traditional wealth? crosstalk
Tatiana: I'm excited, I think that we are Foreign language I have to say crosstalk
Elias Torres: sledge hammer crosstalk
Tatiana: bring out the sledge hammer crosstalk
Elias Torres: Forget the matrix.
Tatiana: Yeah, crosstalk
Alexandra Perez: No matrix here
Tatiana: Yeah, no matrix. And we're building this foundation where other people can build off from and I think that it's going to be great. We have to understand our own greatness and power and we've got to go out there and vote. We have to go out there and vote with our money as well, think about what companies are doing great work both with that money too.
Elias Torres: we have the power with your feet where you go. Right?
Tatiana: Where you go, what you use, what you eat, where you buy from so I think I'm very hopeful and I think it's going to be great. And its up to you.
Elias Torres: It's going to be better
Alexandra Perez: i think in 10, 20 years if we're having this conversion right now and the more we talk about this in 20 years. We will have different challenges but hopefully we have all kinds of challenges. We are in the inaudible we are dancing and I don't know, maybe when I get better at dancing, you know what I mean?
Elias Torres: Thank you for the feedback and I will sign up for it fast.
Alexandra Perez: So I really think. Its all up to us of course, right, its not going to happen magically we need to take ownership of our life, careers and be aware
Alexandra Paredes (Engineering Manager at Stripe), and Tatiana Carett (Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton) may have grown up 10 minutes down the road from each other in Caracas, Venezuela; but they didn't know each other until they both joined the Latinas in Tech community in New York City. Both Ale and Tatiana believe community is crucial to the success of Latinx in tech, so in this episode, Elias goes deep into what it actually means to be a community, and to create a sense of community in the workplace.
- Cultural bias in hiring (3:53)
- The difference between mentors and sponsors, and how to find both (12:04)
- Why community is so important to Latinx in tech (19:00)
- How to measure diversity in your company (25:56)
- Bridging the gap between immigrants and first-generation Latinx in tech (27:19)
- What it means to be an ally (33:35)
- How to confront bias in the workplace (39:09)
- Leveraging Latinx characteristics to be an advantage in tech (42:17)