International Women’s Day is upon us. Today is yet another example of how diversity and equal rights has dominated national news at historic levels for the last 12 months. A heated presidential election has led the public to engage in difficult, honest conversations about prejudices. Communities have united to march in record numbers and demand a higher standard of equality from the government and from large corporations.
It’s about time.
While the tech industry still has a long way to go, we are encouraged by recent commitments made to advance diversity and integration. Recently, HP’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio, sent a letter to his contracted marketing agencies. He demanded that they make immediate efforts to hire women and minorities, stating clearly that “…including women and people of color in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative.”
As a Latina woman, born in Costa Rica, I am proud to be a founding partner of Ideas Collide. We are moving into our 13th year of operation and are growing as fast as we ever have. I confidently echo Mr. Lucio’s message that racial and gender diversity are at the heart of a responsible and intelligent growth strategy. I am immensely blessed every day by the unique and creative perspectives brought to the table by our team of talented individuals.
I recently attended an event in Los Angeles – the Unity and Inclusion in Tech Summit. I had been to similar events before and found a predictably homogenous group of people. But I was delighted to find that this event was different. I was surrounded by people who, like me, came from distinct backgrounds and who had since become advocates for people facing similar challenges in their personal and professional lives. I felt the culture shifting in that moment.
I believe that things are changing. But the change hasn’t occurred on its own. Like HP, we must each take a stand, in every aspect of our lives, to fight for equality. I don’t think it’s enough for our opinions to be hidden behind a veneer of professional caution and political correctness. Now is the time to be bold in demanding fairness.
I was honored to receive the 2016 Athena Award alongside two women who were also born outside the U.S. Being an Athena is one of the greatest honors of my professional life and I believe that it is one of the greatest responsibilities that I’ve ever been given. I am committed to working tirelessly to share the opportunities that I am fortunate enough to have achieved – from opening the Phoenix chapter of Girls in Tech to continued work alongside the Athena Alliance to advance gender parity in the boardroom.
I have always believed in one person’s ability to make a difference. No matter where you are in your career and no matter your background, there are like-minded people who share your goals to create equal opportunity for all. I urge you to take action in your local community. We are all in a position of power. I’ve seen the revolutions occurring and I’ve seen lives changed by your advocacy. Let’s stand together to demand a seat at the table for every hard-working individual.