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3DS Spotlight on our Associate Director of Program Operations, Sophia Javaheri. We asked to hear her perspective regarding Latinx Heritage Month and how we could use our platform to be supportive. We stand with Sophia to celebrate diversity year round. Thanks Sophia for taking the time to share your thoughts! We love having you on our team and we’re excited to grow alongside you.

How did you get involved in the entrepreneurship space?

 

While my first job in the space was largely administrative, I found I was able to get involved in the world of entrepreneurship on a level I didn’t think possible. I networked within the community, helped plan events and entrepreneurship webinars/conferences, I was reading the latest literature on the state of DEI in Tech and Entrepreneurship and I was overall entrenched in this world. Since then I’ve moved on but have only gone deeper into entrepreneurship and providing entrepreneurship education. 

 

I think the beauty of the entrepreneurial mindset is that it sees potential in all backgrounds and experiences. I firmly believe that is why I was able to land that first job despite having little to no experience in traditional “business” landscapes.

What we should know about Latinx Heritage?

The most important thing to know is something that Latinx and other BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ people have been saying for years, “we are not a monolith!” Latinx cultures vary so wildly not only in geography but in cultural traditions, language, food, ideas around family, love, and respect. Even two people from Mexico can have vastly different experiences and viewpoints. 

Another thing non-Latinx people should know is that being a first generation American does not erase one’s Latinx heritage. Many first generation Americans, including myself, take deep pride in having one or more Latinx parents. Being an American on paper doesn’t mean that your background and cultural upbringing is erased. 

Thoughts on Latinx Diversity and Leadership in the Workplace

 

I think first and foremost, companies need to adopt practices that eliminate or greatly reduce name bias in the hiring process. As far as retention and advancement, it all boils down to leadership. You can have a greatly diverse workplace with unlimited benefits but if your organization’s power structure looks like a pyramid that gets darker and more diverse on the lower levels, then you will run into problems no matter what.

 

Organizations can “perform” allyship all they want, but if BIPOC people aren’t being elevated to the top levels of the pyramid then it sends a clear message to your employees. That message being “You can work hard, perform excellence, and still may never reach the top here.” Being aware of those implicit messages is the first step. 

 

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