Underrepresented in tech, Latinas are using TikTok to help others navigate the industry

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Latinas on tiktok: Maribel Campos, left, works in video partner operations at Apple, Gina Moreno works for Microsoft, and Michelle Villagran is a systems implementation consultant.

By Edwin Flores

When Maribel Campos was 11, she was living in her parents’ trailer home in Sonoma, Calif. She recalled wanting her own iPod, but her parents, who were working multiple jobs to make ends meet, couldn’t afford one.

Campos, now 24, not only owns an iPod, but she also works at Apple TV Plus — a full-circle moment for her, she said.

“Never in a million years would I think that I would be working” on an Apple product or service, Campos, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, said.

Across all races and ethnicities, women remain underrepresented in computing-related jobs in the tech field, holding just 26 percent of the positions. For Hispanic women, this disparity is even worse, as they make up just 2 percent.

Now, Campos, along with other Latinas, are taking to TikTok to help others in their community navigate the tech world — by sharing their experiences, dispelling misconceptions and offering advice.

“I grew up in poverty, I had zero connections. I didn’t study anything relevant to what I’m doing now,” Campos, who has a degree in communications and media studies from Sonoma State University, said in one of her videos. “I’m still working in tech and you can do it too.”

‘There’s nobody else that looks like me here’
Michelle Villagran, 24, a systems implementation consultant for Westlands Management Solutions based in San Francisco, said she often felt discouraged in entry-level positions and internships because she was usually the only Latina.

“I would tell myself, like ‘Dang, I can’t have this job. There’s nobody else that looks like me here,'” said Villagran, who works remotely from Portland, Oregon. “There weren’t other Latinas in these teams, I was always the only one.”

Since many of the Latinas in tech are pursuing different career paths than those of their family and friends, it’s also hard for them to get career advice.

“I’m navigating everything by myself. I can’t reach out to my parents for advice or anything. So it definitely can feel very, very isolating,” Campos said. “There’s no one to hold your hand or tell you what to do next in your career, what next steps are for you, how to do your job. So finding someone that relates to your background and that is willing to help you is super key to being successful there.”

She said she found support through human resource groups, such as Amigos at Apple and outside groups such as Latinas in Tech.

Some also say they experience what is called impostor syndrome, which women are 22 percent more likely to experience in tech workplaces.

“It’s also the age,” said Gina Moreno, 26, a program manager for Microsoft. “You’re young, whereas a lot of people have 20-plus years of experience.”

For Moreno, learning to undo traditional Mexican values and perceptions of being a reserved and humble woman were pivotal in transitioning from college to a full-time professional job, she said.

“I had to learn that being humble is a great value in the Mexican community, but being humble doesn’t mean being modest in your career,” Moreno said. “I also learned that being direct is the way to advance, whereas in Mexican culture, being direct is rude.”

About 66 percent of women in tech say there’s no clear path for career advancement at their companies.

“At the end of the day, we’re all breaking glass ceilings, we’re all carving our own path,” Moreno said.

Striving to be an example
Popular TikTok videos about tech often describe six-figure salaries and other benefits that come with coding positions.

But Villagran, Campos and Moreno show a different side of the industry in their videos, by highlighting the variety of positions in the industry, some of which don’t require coding skills, yet still pay attractive salaries.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

5 Tips to Create or Improve Your Linkedin Profile
LinkedIn
hands typing on laptop

Ready to land your dream job?  You’re in luck because recruiters and employers are looking for candidates in record numbers this year. And one tool they’re using to help them recruit is LinkedIn. Whether you already have a full LinkedIn profile, or you’ve never set one up, follow these five tips to make your profile shine.

Start with the details

This might seem counter-intuitive, but getting the details down first can help you round out the more general parts of your profile, such as the headline and summary. So don’t be afraid to dive right into the “Work Experience” section.

A good format to use for your experience is to start with a one or two sentence summary of each position, followed by bullet points that highlight specifics in terms of accomplishments and results. You might use a slightly edited version of your resume for this.

Get the headline right

Let’s be honest: your LinkedIn headline does a lot of heavy lifting for you. So it’s important that it highlight your industry or career as well as your skills and/or what you can offer to an employer. It doesn’t need to be cute or attention grabbing. But since it’s the one piece of your profile that most people actually will read, you do want to make sure it conveys information about you. Put yourself in the mind of a recruiter for your dream job, and make sure your headline has some keywords that will identify you as a good fit for that position. For example, if you’re looking for a career in something as specific as accounting or database management, you want to make sure that’s obvious from your headline.

To start brainstorming your headline, go back to your Work Experience information. You should find a story somewhere in your summary statements and your bullet points. Once you land on a headline, you might even want to tweak your Work Experience section to make sure it works well with and flows from your headline.

Make the effort with a headshot

This little image is the most-viewed part of your profile—in fact, recruiters and employers see it before they even click through to look at the rest of your profile. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer for your headshot, but if you have access to one, it can make the process easier. If you don’t, have someone take a a photo of you in front of a neutral background, and crop it to show just your head and the top of your shoulders. A good rule of thumb for how to dress is to wear what you would wear to your dream job (even though only the top of your shoulders will be visible). You want to look professional and friendly. Employers are looking for someone who will get along well with colleagues, so smiling or having an approachable look is important.

List all 50 skills

LinkedIn has up to 50 slots for you to list your skills, and they use these skills like keywords to match you to recruiters’ or employers’ searches. So, the more skills or keywords you have listed, the more likely you’ll show up in someone’s search.

Not sure which skills you should list? One place to get ideas is from the LinkedIn profiles of people who have jobs similar to yours, or who work in the same field. CareerOneStop’s Tools & Technology Finder is also a good place to identify the most common tools or software programs for your specific occupation; if you have experience with the tools or technologies you find listed when you look up your occupation there, you should definitely list them.

Ask for recommendations

This last point can be the hardest one for many people, but having even a couple recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can make a difference in whether a recruiter pauses and takes a closer look. Recommendations can be quite short—even two to three sentences—so asking someone to write one for you does not have to be a huge burden to them.

In terms of who you should ask, you can really consider almost anyone you’ve known in a professional setting. That can include people more senior than you, more junior than you, or colleagues at your own level. It can also include current or former colleagues, bosses, or employees.

Source: CareerOneStop

Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City
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Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

By ABC News Radio

Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.

“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.

Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.

“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.

Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.

“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”

Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.

Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.

“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”

For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.

“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.

For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.

A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.

“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”

According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.

“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.

Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.

SIA Scotch Whisky to Support Entrepreneurs of Color in the Food, Beverage and Hospitality Industry with the Return of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund
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SIA Scotch Whisky founder holding a bottle

By Yahoo! Finance

SIA Scotch Whisky, an award-winning spirits brand founded by first-generation Hispanic entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski, is bringing back The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch for the second consecutive year. The groundbreaking initiative provides entrepreneurs of color with access to the capital and mentorship that will help them take action, build stronger companies and have a positive impact on their communities.

This year, the grant program will focus on growing businesses specifically within the brand’s own world – the food, beverage, and hospitality sector [1]. This space has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and its small business owners continue to face massive barriers, such as adapting to consumers’ ever-evolving preferences and spending behaviors, adjusting to increased at-home demand, and facing supply chain disruptions. As a brand built from the ground up, SIA Scotch Whisky truly understands the importance of supporting these often-overlooked small business owners along their entrepreneurial journeys.

“As an entrepreneur from a historically underrepresented and underserved community, gaining access to funding and mentorship during my startup journey was always an uphill battle,” said founder Luna-Ostaseski. “The food, beverage and hospitality space is very competitive, and I know from firsthand experience how game-changing support can be. SIA Scotch Whisky was born out of my perseverance and passion, and to this day our purpose is to inspire other entrepreneurs of color to achieve the unexpected – just like I did. I am so proud of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and its continued commitment to paying it forward.”

However, success is not easy to come by. Entrepreneurs of color tend to face more obstacles when it comes to raising capital and are far more likely to get shut out of financing completely. Despite approximately 18.7% of all U.S. businesses being minority-owned [2], representing over 50% of new businesses started and creating 4.7 million new jobs, this group is still largely excluded in funding – receiving only a 2% share of venture capital annually over the last decade [3].

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch is inspired by Carin Luna-Ostaseski’s entrepreneurial journey and launches in partnership with Hello Alice, a free online platform that connects its community of nearly one million small business owners with the capital, tools and education they need to grow their businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are an economic force in the U.S and recognizing their impact in our communities is of great importance,” said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and President, Hello Alice. “In our most recent survey, 89% of small business owners claim access to capital is limiting their business growth potential. Along with our partner SIA Scotch Whisky, we are excited to continue this groundbreaking grant program to help support this underserved community and provide the resources, tools and additional exposure that these businesses need to succeed.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch will award $10,000 grants to 11 qualifying entrepreneurs who self-identify as people of color, for a total of $110,000. To apply, visit https://hialice.co/siascotchfund now through Sept. 26, 2022. To be eligible, business owners must be 25 years of age or older (as of November 1, 2022) and a legal U.S. resident. Businesses must be owned 51%+ by person(s) of color, a for-profit business producing less than $5M in annual gross revenue, not be an alcohol beverage wholesale or retail license holder or a business which makes/distributes/imports alcohol, and must operate and/or conduct business in at least one of the following states: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, RI and/or TX. For complete eligibility criteria and important restrictions, visit the application site and terms & conditions. The final grant recipients will be announced on Nov. 1, 2022, kicking off National Entrepreneur Month.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund is a continuation of SIA Scotch Whisky’s nearly decade-long commitment to donating a portion of sales to organizations that help support underrepresented entrepreneurs – the dreamers, movers and shakers who are shaping the future. When getting into the entrepreneurial spirit or when sipping on actual spirits, SIA encourages consumers of legal drinking age to drink responsibly.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.

Meet Afro-Latina Scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel
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Dr. Jessica Esquivel

By Erica Nahmad, Be Latina

It’s undeniable that representation matters and the idea of what a scientist could or should look like is changing, largely thanks to pioneers like Afro-Latina scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel, who is breaking barriers for women in STEM one step at a time.

Dr. Esquivel isn’t just extraordinary because of what she is capable of as an Afro-Latina astrophysicist — she’s also extraordinary in her vulnerability and relatability. She’s on a mission to break barriers in science and to show the humanity behind scientists.

Dr. Esquivel makes science accessible to everyone, no matter what you look like or where you come from. As one of the only Afro-Latina scientists in her field, and one of the only women who looked like her to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, Dr. Esquivel knows a thing or two about the importance of representation, especially in STEM fields and science labs.

Women make up only 28% of the science, technology, engineering, and math workforce in the U.S. Those disparities are even more severe when you start to look at minority populations.

“When you start looking at the intersections of race and gender and then even sexuality, those numbers drop significantly,” Esquivel told CBS Chicago. “There are only about 100 to 150 black women with their Ph.D. in physics in the country!”

Fighting against the isolation of uniqueness
Dr. Jessica Esquivel recalls being a nontraditional student and being “the only” when she entered graduate school for physics — the only woman in her class, the only Black, the only Mexican, the only lesbian — and all of that made her feel very isolated.

“On top of such rigorous material, the isolation and otherness that happens due to being the only or one of few is an added burden marginalized people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, have to deal with,” Dr. Esquivel told BeLatina in an email interview. On top of feeling like an outsider, isolation was also consuming. “Being away from family at a predominately white institution, where the number of microaggressions was constant, really affected my mental health and, in turn, my coursework and research, so it was important to surround myself with mentors who supported me and believed in my ability to be a scientist.”

While she anticipated that the physics curriculum would be incredibly challenging, she was definitely not prepared for how hard the rest of the experience would be and how it would impact her as a student and a scientist.

The challenges she faced professionally and personally made her realize early on just how crucial representation is in academia and all fields, but especially in STEM. “It was really impactful for me to learn that there were other Black women who had made it out of the grad school metaphorical trenches. It’s absolutely important to create inclusive spaces where marginalized people, including Black, Latina, and genderqueer people, can thrive,” she said.

“The secrets of our universe don’t discriminate, these secrets can and should be unraveled by all those who wish to embark on that journey, and my aim is to clear as many barriers and leave these physics spaces better than I entered them.”

When inclusion and equal opportunities are the ultimate goal
Dr. Jessica Esquivel isn’t just dedicating her time and energy to studying complex scientific concepts — think quantum entanglement, space-time fabric, the building blocks of the universe… some seriously abstract physics concepts straight out of a sci-fi movie, as she explains. On top of her research, she put in so much extra work to show people, especially younger generations of women of color, that the physics and STEM world is not some old white man’s club where this prestigious knowledge is only available to them. Dr. Esquivel is an expert in her field; she knows things that no one else currently knows and has the ability and the power to transfer that knowledge to others and pass it down to others. There is a place for everyone, including people who look like her, in the STEM world, and she’s on a mission to inspire others while working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM space.

“Many of us who are underrepresented in STEM have taken on the responsibility of spearheading institutional change toward more just, equitable, and inclusive working environments as a form of survival,” she explains. “I’m putting in more work on top of the research I do because I recognize that I do better research if I feel supported and if I feel like I can bring my whole self to my job. My hope is that one day Black and brown women and gender-queer folks interested in science can pursue just that and not have to fight for their right to be a scientist or defend that they are worthy of doing science.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Sandra Velasquez, the CEO and Founder of Nopalera, Creates Body Care as a Celebration of Her Latina Culture
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Nopalera soap ad

By Nashia Baker, Martha Stewert

Going back to the summer of 2019, Sandra Velasquez, the CEO and founder of Nopalera, a luxury, clean body care brand, visited with family in San Diego, Calif. while in between jobs. During this time at her childhood home, she started her now-business purely based on the beauty of her surroundings. The entrepreneur had an itch to learn how to create new things in her spare time, soap being her main focus. Most of the recipes she referenced called for aloe vera, though—which she didn’t have on hand.

“Here in Southern California, we have plenty of nopales, which is what in English, people call the prickly pear cactus, but we Latinos call it the nopal,” says Velasquez. “My parents, like most of the neighbors around here, have a nopalera, which is a cactus plant, in their front yard, so that is what I started to use instead of the aloe.”

Creating this cactus-infused soap proved to be her “a-ha” moment to start a brand of her own. The plant is sustainable with nourishing properties, and she pulled from her previous experiences as a musician and a sales professional to blend her passion for celebratory, cultural storytelling and authentic self-care to bring her product to market. “I could create this brand, a high-end Latina brand, that could really disrupt the Eurocentric values in this country that we see in the beauty industry, that normalize higher price tags for brands with French and Italian names,” she says.

Designing and Collaborating
Everything that goes into the Nopalera brand, whether it be the design to the naming of every product, is intentional on Velasquez’s part. “You know, you’re wearing the shoes that you’re wearing, because of how they look with your outfits, right? We buy things based on how they make us feel,” she says. “I knew that the branding was going to be critical.”

She started her brand by putting any necessary payments (like enrollment for formulation school) on her credit card. She then paid a designer she knew from a previous job to create the storytelling-centric packaging and researched to find a packer to lend a hand and get her products made.

“It was just a lot of just falling down rabbit holes on the internet, asking everyone I knew, reading industry articles, following the right publications, finding people’s names there, and then going and finding those people directly,” Velasquez says, noting that she would attend trade shows and panels—and still connects with women of color professionals personally. “It’s because I made a concerted effort, consistently, to keep finding people; you’re not going to find anything unless you go and literally put yourself in the rooms.”

Culturally Inspired Brand
Most importantly, Velasquez credits her love for her culture as being the heart of Nopalera as a whole. “My family has impacted me and my business because they really instilled strong cultural pride in me, which I’m very grateful for,” the CEO says. She expresses how her parents taught her about the pride in being Mexican growing up and to never assimilate in her life. “That cultural pride is what I have carried through in my brand,” Velasquez adds. “Bath and body products are the goods that we sell, but the perspective and the mission behind it is about elevating our culture and changing the perception of Latino goods in this marketplace.”

Cultivating an Audience
After completing the branding, Velasquez worked to grow her audience. “I started to advertise on Facebook and Instagram early on, even pre-launch,” she says. She invested in herself during this process by taking a social media ad class. From there, she says that she began running targeted ads in areas such as California, Texas, and Arizona with large Latino populations and building an email list so she knew who to send brand messages to when Nopalera made its official debut.

“That’s one of the best pieces of advice I can give to people; don’t go and create in the shadows, and then all of a sudden appear and expect for people to notice,” she says. “Building your email list in advance is so important, if you can, if you’ve already started [your business], just start building it now.” This helped her get the Nopalera brand name out there from day one, and she says people still find her business today through her email list. She’s also continued putting out targeted ads, as over 600 boutiques that have applied to become her stockist found the brand through the advertisements.

Click here to read the full article on Martha Stewert.

Latina Entrepreneur Melina Fuenmayor Builds a Successful Seven-Figure Business in Under Two Years
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Melina Fuenmayor in a blue dress

By Digital Journal

Melina Fuenmayor started her business with just $3000. Now it’s one of the largest signing service companies in Florida.

Melina Fuenmayor, a Venezuelan Immigrant, and a successful businesswoman, is inspiring Latina entrepreneurs across the US with her incredible story of struggle and triumph. Taking charge of the life she wanted to achieve, Fuenmayor is now living the American Dream. She’s one of Florida’s most successful Latina business owners, running a seven-figure notary signing company, The Closing Signing Service.

Fuenmayor came to the US in 2017 armed with nothing but the desire to build a good life for her family. As a woman immigrant, things haven’t been easy. She had to work four jobs just to make ends meet and provide for her family. She started working as an Administrative Assistant and then a Paralegal at a law firm. At one point, she also had to work as a babysitter.

Despite the language barrier and the challenges she faced, Fuenmayor is fueled with determination. While working at the law firm, she pursued studies in Notary Public and became a Certified Notary Signing Agent. After seeing the potential in the notary signing industry, Fuenmayor invested $3000 to establish a business. While it started as a side-hustle, she soon found herself quitting her jobs one by one. Four months later, she took a leap of faith and quit her last job to dedicate her focus to running the business full-time. Her gamble paid off.

In just three months, she was doing hundreds of monthly closings, becoming the first Notary Signing Agent in Florida to hit 10k a month. Her expertise is in loan signing. She guides borrowers through the signing process, ensuring the entire loan package is signed, initialed, dated, and notarized without any errors. Fuenmayor established herself as a leader in her field and became widely recognized as a referent.

In August 2020, during the pandemic, she launched The Closing Signing Service to meet the rapidly growing demands for her expertise. Title Companies and Real Estate Attorneys rely on her and her team to find and hire mobile notaries to close real estate transactions. They oversee the entire operation, from hiring the right notaries to ensuring all documents are signed, notarized, scanned, and dropped off on time. The company offers its services nationwide, facilitating successful and seamless closings.

In under two years, The Closing Signing Service completed thousands of closings for hundreds of clients and has amassed a significant client base across the country.

Despite her accomplishments, Fuenmayor is not one to rest on her laurels. Aside from running her company, she’s also focusing her efforts on sharing her expertise and insights as a Notary Signing Agent and a Signing Service Owner. She has a training program called Notary Business Guidance dedicated to helping aspiring business owners succeed in the notary service industry.

Click here to read the full article on Digital Journal.

3 Strategies Female Founders of Color Can Use to Secure Funding
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Select business owners will receive a

By Xintian Tina Wang, Inc.com

Black and Latina women founders received only 0.43 percent of the $166 billion in VC funding dished out to startups in 2020. That’s according to ProjectDiane, a biennial report on the state of Black women and Latina founders by the organization DigitalUndivided.

Two women who are beating the odds are Kelly Ifill, the founder and CEO of Guava, a neo-bank and community platform designed to serve Black entrepreneurs and small-business owners, and Evelyn Rusli, an angel investor and the co-founder and president of baby food brand Yumi. The two sat down with All the Hats editor Teneshia Carr to talk about the best strategies for overcoming the hurdles to getting funding as a female founder of color. Here are three that stand out.

1. Be prepared to hear ‘no’ and keep pitching.
Rusli says she receives probably hundreds of rejections when pitching to investors, but encourages founders to stay positive nevertheless. “I think you have to pitch a lot of investors in the beginning, where not everyone is going to say yes. In fact, you’re going to get many nos,” says Rusli. “For every no out there, there is a yes. If you believe so strongly in your vision and that’s why you took the leap, then you just have to continue to knock on those doors and try to find the angles.”

Ifill agrees and suggests that pitching is a numbers game — by pitching more, you’ll come to understand what resonates with investors best. “Some investors will give you feedback, so you can scrap from your pitch what’s not working and what you need to double click on,” she says.

2. Find a compelling story.
Practice telling your pitch story to get it right and tight. Investors are humans, and they respond to stories that have humane aspects.

“We don’t pay attention to the storytelling aspect of the pitches enough,” says Ifill. “Try to tell stories of the lived experience of people that you’re trying to change or an industry problem that you’re trying to solve. I find that’s [led to] the most successful moments that I have had with investors.”

3. Leverage your network to find the right investor
LinkedIn can be your go-to platform to get to know people in your industry. Rusli urges being unafraid to cold call people you don’t know. “People reach out less than you think they do in general. If an investor finds your subject line interesting, they might just respond.”

Click here to read the full article on Inc.com.

Arizona Afro-Latina is raising awareness of her culture as leader for female empowerment
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Franchela Ulises founded the organization

By , NJ

Where are you from?

It’s a question that Franchela Ulises hears often in Arizona when she speaks in Spanish. In her native language.

She is used to the question. But she’ll never get used to the strange looks from others when she’s in public. She’s seen that look at the grocery store or at the park when she’s with her kids and they’re all talking in Spanish.

Sometimes she laughs it off. Other times, she lets her frustration flow.

Franchela was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her parents are from the Dominican Republic.

In the country of her parents, Franchela doesn’t attract attention. Here in Arizona, in a desert state on the border with Mexico, a Black woman who speaks Spanish is watched with curiosity and sometimes reveals the prejudice toward people who share her heritage.

Facing discrimination. Not feeling recognized, included or accepted as an Afro-Latina. It’s exhausting, she says.

Franchela channeled her frustration into creating “Mujeres of all Shades.” The organization helps women of all races and cultural and ethnic backgrounds champion their own style, their own identities, their own expressions of beauty and brilliance.

She’s cultivating a collective of women who are changing the fashion industry to be more inclusive of what women want and how they want to be seen and heard.

Together, they fight for confidence and self-esteem and against stereotypes about beauty, race and gender. For Franchela, it is a movement.

She has three daughters. She wants them to see more Afro-Latinas represented on television and other media.

On a cool day in downtown Phoenix, Franchela is posing for photos and speaking in Spanish and English. She explains what life is like for Afro-Latinas in Arizona.

She fixes her hair and adjusts her jacket with splashes of vibrant colors from lime green to indigo blue. She crosses her legs and sets aside her Gucci bag.

Looking at the camera with the confidence of a Hollywood star on stage, a model on the runway or mama with three babies, she smiles and says: “I’m Afro-Latina.”

She releases a mischievous laugh adding, “I’m a little bit of everything.”

Franchela is 30 years old. She tries to explain how she defines herself, shows her identities in simple, straightforward ways that still seem so complicated in the eyes of people who do not know her cultural mix and her roots.

Click here to read the full article on NJ.

SkyPoint FCU Closes $7 Million Investment from the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program
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woman typing on a calculator

SkyPoint Federal Credit Union (SkyPoint), a premier, member-owned financial institution, has recently closed on a $7 million investment as part of the U.S. Treasury’s new Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP). This investment increased SkyPoint’s net worth which will allow for growth and expansion of their lending portfolio.

The ECIP initiative is designed to provide access to capital for communities, businesses, and individuals traditionally excluded from the financial system, particularly those that have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. SkyPoint will use the funds to provide financial products for small and minority-owned businesses and consumers in low-income and underserved communities. The credit union already has a long history with members in this demographic.

“We’re very proud to be selected for this program that looks to address some of the long-standing inequities in our financial system,” said Jim Norris, CEO of SkyPoint. “SkyPoint has always been focused on helping underserved communities, and this investment will give us a solid foundation to expand our services and help more people.”

SkyPoint is evaluating ways to broaden its portfolio of lending programs to communities most impacted by the COVID pandemic. The credit union is also planning to add business accounts and lending programs this year that will complement its financial service offerings for consumers.

“We know with higher prices for almost everything, families can be worried about making big investments like a car or a home. And entrepreneurs may be nervous about starting or expanding their businesses,” explained Norris. “As part of the ECIP, we’re well-positioned to give families and companies access to the capital they need, especially groups that historically were not able to easily receive funding.”

Over the long term, the funds will also help SkyPoint grow and continue its role of helping foster financial opportunities and inclusion in low-income and traditionally underserved communities.

About SkyPoint Federal Credit Union (SkyPoint)

SkyPoint is one of the premier financial institutions serving Montgomery County, MD; Frederick County, MD; Arlington County, VA; Alexandria and Falls Church, VA; and the District of Columbia. SkyPoint is a Community Development Financial Institution and a designated Juntos Avanzamos credit union. To learn more, visit www.skypointfcu.com

This 31-year-old quit her $150,000-a-year tech job to start an equal pay app: Here’s how she got started
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Christen Nino De Guzman, founder of Clara for CreatorsPhoto: Christen Nino De Guzman

By Christen Nino De Guzman, CNBC

I’ve always enjoyed working with content creators. At 31, I’ve helped launch creator programs at some of the biggest tech companies, including Instagram and Pinterest.

But it was frustrating to see the pay inequality that content creators constantly faced. So earlier this year, I decided to quit my $150,000-per-year job at TikTok to start a “Glassdoor-like” app called Clara for Creators.

Since launching, it has helped more than 7,000 influencers and content creators share and compare pay rates and review their experiences working with brands.

The pay gap in influencer marketing

Nowadays, there are very few barriers to becoming a content creator. With the popularity of TikTok, for example, you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment; anyone can try to build an audience and monetize their platform with videos they shoot on a smartphone.

As a result, more and more creators have entered the business. The problem? They have little knowledge about how much money they could — or should — be making.

Content creator deals are tricky. How much you’re paid depends on the type of content you’re offering a brand and on what platform — an Instagram post versus a YouTube video, for example. Other factors include the size of your following, engagement metrics and success rates with previous partnerships.

To make matters even more complicated, brands often ask an influencer for their rate instead of offering everyone a base pay with room to negotiate.

Many creators end up selling themselves short, especially women and people of color. I once saw a man get paid 10 times what a woman creator was paid for the same campaign — just because he asked for more. I’ve also seen Latinx creators with triple the following of white creators be paid half as much.

How I started my mission-based business

I knew a major problem that creators faced was that they couldn’t Google how much money they could charge for marketing a product or service on their platform. That lightbulb moment — and how much I cared about the creators I worked with — inspired me to build Clara.

I wanted creators to be able to share reviews of brands they had worked with, along with how much they were paid for different types of content based on their number of followers.

In March 2021, I sent a bunch of cold messages to potential investors on LinkedIn. In July, after weeks of non-stop outreach that turned into more than 10 pitch meetings, I received a small investment from an individual investor. I used that money to contract a team of developers, who I worked alongside to build and test the app.

Clara finally launched for iOS in January this year. Within a month, without spending any money on advertisements, more than 7,000 creators signed up to share their rates on Clara, including top TikTok creators like Devon Rodriguez and Nancy Bullard, who each have 24.4 million and 2.9 million social media followers, respectively.

On January 14, I quit my job at TikTok as a creator program manager to work on Clara full-time. While I am taking a massive pay cut by leaving my 9-to-5, I’m living off money I make as a content creator and my savings.

Right now, I’m focused on raising capital to grow the platform. I’m also spreading the word about equal pay and how important resources like Clara are. l post career advice and other resources on my TikTok account, where I currently have 348,000 followers.

Get paid fairly: Know your rights and do your research

There are many things you can do to work towards greater pay equity for yourself and others in your industry.

When discussing pay with your coworkers, it’s important to know your rights. Some corporations may try to scare you from it by saying that salary talk is against company policy. But under the National Labor Relations Act, many employees have the right to talk about their wages with their coworkers.

I’ve had six full-time jobs, and fear used to keep me from talking about money. But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a colleague, I found out I was being underpaid. I then used that knowledge to look for new roles where I’d be paid more fairly.

These conversations don’t have to be awkward, especially if you’ve established a safe and comfortable relationship. Rather than flat-out asking “How much are you making?,” approach the discussion in a “let’s help each other” way. You might be surprised by the number of people who are willing to talk about it.

Keep in mind that while you have the right to communicate about your wages, your employer may have lawful policies against using their equipment — like work laptops — to have the discussion. Protect yourself by understanding your company’s policy before sending a rallying Slack message.

And always do your research before accepting a contract. Sites like Glassdoor, Levels and Clara offer this data for free.

You can also search sites like TikTok and YouTube to get deep insights about pay. There are many creators who, like me, are open about what they’ve been paid at previous companies — down to stock offerings and sign-on bonuses, and who share information about company cultures overall.

I also created a spreadsheet for people to share their titles and salaries alongside important demographic information I’ve seen left out on other databases, like gender, age and diverse identity fields. So far, it has over 62,000 entries.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

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