We hosted our second annual Latina Leadership Summit within the Expedia Group, hosted by our Inclusion Business Group – Latinx at Expedia & Allies for Development (LEAD) in partnership with L500 Inc. to cap off Hispanic Heritage Month in Austin. It was an event that I will always remember with fondness, warmth, but above all, leaving the day inspired!
I am inspired and motivated to be a part of positively influencing and changing the numbers for Latinas. Today, the number of Latinas in STEM positions is 2%, and in leadership positions it is even lower, at around 1%. As a mother, I feel a great weight on my shoulders to not only open the door for those behind us (my daughter and nieces included), but also to ensure that we provide instruction for entry into STEM roles and leadership! We Latinas have become masters at handling ambiguity, adapting, and thriving in any environment because our mothers, our abuelas, our tias, and so many others have overcome various challenges to bringing many of us to where we are today. It is our responsibility to continue the legacy left by our mothers, abuelas and others by supporting and encouraging one another.
This year, our Latina Leadership Summit hosted several different panels from a great roster of phenomenal women and allies. It is essential that we include our allies in the conversation, because we can only create change and influence if we have their support and receive their sponsorship when we (Latinas) are not in the rooms. We had the fabulous Salwa Yordi as Master of Ceremonies, bringing his passion and energy to keep the day on track. We also had Karla Rendon (DJ Kickit) back for the second year to liven up our day with incredible Latin music.
This was an engaging panel showcasing different leadership styles and revealing common themes. My main takeaways from the discussion were:
- Key traits of a strong leader: respecting others, listening, observing what needs to be done, building trust while growing and mentoring people, and adaptability (the Latina superpower!).
- Define defining moments as a leader: Become a leader and recognize how others benefit from your stories and presence.
- Invite others to collaborate, especially on inclusion. This establishes psychological safety at work and opens the door to innovation. Innovation comes from learning, evolving and making mistakes.
I touched on many of the great ideas and knowledge that Francesca shared during the discussion. My main takeaways from the discussion were:
- Success comes from being true to yourself and aligning your values and purpose with what matters to you.
- Have a growth mindset and keep learning. Be resilient and accept failures or setbacks because they have taught you something.
- Believe in your skills and abilities because you have gotten to where you are today and where you will go. Manifest your destiny and say what you want.
I want to recognize and thank the leaders who conducted the survey in person and virtually. round tables on the themes of Leading with Determination, Leading with Resilience or Leading in Uncertainty. Thanks for: Erika Sanchez, Caroline Barcenas, Monique May, Laura (Lala) Elizondo, Leticia Schmaedecke, Clarissa Price, Venus Piñeyro De Hoyos, Lourdes G. Zuniga, Patricia Manley, Daniela Corrente, Franchesca Sanabria
The last panel of the day covered: Working with allies to advance the careers of Latinas. I liked to see Aline Rodrigues de Almeida moderate the discussion with the panelists: Pascal Collet , Alexandra (ally) Legend Siegel, Jacob Rosales, Gabriela Kane Guardia
I know I would not be where I am without my mentors, allies who have sponsored and coached me throughout my career.
Some of the most important points of the discussion were:
- Allies can influence and encourage other allies to be active and recognize their privilege to help others.
- You can be an ally and sponsor others within your own community, especially those early in their careers.
- There are benefits for both allies and those being coached/mentored/sponsored as it impacts their career path and helps them move up the corporate ladder.
We ended the day with a very energetic and inspiring fireside chat on the theme of The intersection of technology and community moderated by Michael Davis Velasco and presenting our opening speech Claudia Romo-Edelman
Claudia has worked for 25 years with internationally renowned institutions, including the United Nations, UNICEF, the Global Fund and the World Economic Forum. She is the founder of We Are All Human.
Claudia captivated me and the audience with her insights and statistics about our demographics – we are the youngest and growing at a rapid rate. She set the record straight on how we should identify (Hispanic, Latina, Latinx, etc. – whatever we prefer!) while inspiring us to push boundaries and encouraging our community to come together and move forward together. His podcast at La Latina is definitely something I highly recommend with her many books such as Hispanic Stars Rising and Hispanic Star with Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor, Selena Gomez and many others.
The massive success of the event is due to the incredible team at Expedia for their heart and shared mission to provide travel for all and invest in our communities.
I am forever grateful to my LEAD Global Board Aline Rodrigues de Almeida, Claudia Valecillos, Federico Fornara, Luis J Pérez, Luis Rodriguez, Monique Mai, Samantha Rae Lopez who worked tirelessly to plan, facilitate and push boundaries to make this year’s event an even bigger success than last year.
Special recognition to Gretel Perera. Gretel is one of my greatest heroines. His leadership, passion, energy and dynamism are more than inspiring and motivating. Without her, none of this would have been possible. She exemplifies what it takes to move forward and move forward.
To the entire EG community – from our Inclusion and Diversity team, to leadership, facilities, recruiting, volunteer LEAD members, our tech team, photographers and many more. I am excited to work with each of you. It took a lot of work, but we came together like we always do, and it was a day and an experience I will always remember.
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