The LGBTQ community is diverse and broad, bringing unique value to the workforce through its fabric of differentiated experiences. This often includes heightened levels of empathy and grit as well as a deeper understanding of social dynamics and cohesion building. However, Bain’s recent study found that more than 70 percent of LGBTQ employees do not feel fully included at work. This puts employers at risk of missing out on the full value of these diverse skills and perspectives.
“Many companies are awakening to the business benefits of welcoming LGBTQ employees, including an ability to attract and retain talent,” said Brenen Blair, expert associate partner in Bain & Company’s Houston office and a leader in its Organization and DEI practices. “But inclusion is about much more than ‘welcoming everyone.’ Being LGBTQ brings a distinct feeling of ‘otherness’ and comes with a life backdrop that often translates into differentiated perspectives and abilities in the workplace. Our research identified some of the most important steps employers can take to build more inclusive work environments for their LGBTQ employees and truly reap the benefits of this diversity.”
Because the category “LGBTQ” is so broad — and many organizations lack accurate data about the specific contours of their LGBTQ populations — it may seem daunting for employers to understand how to create greater inclusion for members of this group. For example, Bain’s research shows that while the top enablers for inclusion among the LGBTQ community consistently fall into areas of growth and career development — coaching, talent development programs and growth mindsets — notable differences exist between LGBTQ employees in North America and Europe as well as by gender.
LGBTQ men in North America place greater importance on the overall diversity, equity and inclusion mission and goals of an organization than LGBTQ men in Europe, who put a greater focus on open and honest communication. Bain’s research showed similar differences between LGBTQ women in North America, who place greater importance on the perceived empathy of others than women in Europe, who value growth opportunities and transparent feedback more strongly.
Leaders looking to ensure all queer talent feels included should focus on the following areas:
· Get the basics right. Create an environment where “coming out” is safe and easy. Revisit benefits packages, particularly healthcare and family leave, and ensure they meet the needs of all identities, genders, orientations and family setups. Build allyship programs that both educate and “lighten the load.”
· Embrace individuality in talent management. Examine role expectations, performance reviews and accepted language for describing success. Ask whether the organization is set up to encourage and cultivate diversity of thought in its most critical roles.
· Enable tailored career pathways. LGBTQ employees are continually coming out, and identities and passions may change significantly over the course of peoples’ careers. Inclusive organizations create clear pathways for lateral career moves that keep strong talent engaged. For example, part-time, hybrid and remote roles and sabbaticals benefit everyone, but are particularly important for creating equity for queer employees.
· Cultivate true sponsorship. Mentor programs for underrepresented groups are common, but true sponsorship opens doors, creates advocates and helps employees navigate their organization.
“To be truly inclusive, we must recognize the diversity of our people and celebrate their unique qualities,” said Andrea Arroyo, a senior manager in Bain & Company’s London office. “For example, my sponsor at work pointed out that my sensitivity — a trait I originally thought of as a flaw in the workplace — helped to make me highly attuned to both clients and teammates who were uncomfortable or even struggling. It turns out, being fully myself has helped me to be more effective in serving my clients and made me a better team member.”
The growing U.S. Latino population needs a larger pool of educators and advocates who represent their unique cultural and linguistic identities while sensitizing others in the school system and beyond. In honor of Women’s History Month, ProgressReport is uplifting the voices of some of the Latina educational leaders who are currently making history by paving the way for the next generation of changemakers. UnidosUS celebrates the accomplishments of three Latinas representing excellence at all levels of the education system – Miriam Calderon, Maria Armstrong, and Melody Gonzales – they share their journeys and insights with Progress Report.
Early Childhood Education
Miriam Calderon, pictured above, chief policy officer for ZERO TO THREE, the nation’s largest early childhood advocacy organization, has spent two decades advocating for young children, especially Latinos and dual language learners, to have a better early start in their education. She served as UnidosUS’s associate director of education policy, early childhood education director of DC Public Schools, senior director of early learning at the Bainum Family Foundation, and as an appointee of the Obama and the Biden Administrations, as well as former Oregon Governor Kate Brown, all leading efforts to reinforce and grow early education programs. Today, her career is fully aligned with trending education policy conversations.
At the onset of the pandemic, she was tasked with helping to provide emergency grants to early childhood centers across the state of Oregon, which boasts the fastest-growing Latino population in the country. That work reinforced what she already knew: this country’s early childhood education system had always lacked an appropriate infrastructure and the pandemic simply revealed and exacerbated that reality.
“Our systems for communicating with providers in real-time were threadbare – to know if providers were open, if they had spaces where we could refer families. It was challenging to get providers and programs PPE; to give grants to providers to offset their higher costs of operating during the pandemic,” she says, noting that this marked the first time many providers had the opportunity to receive public funding. “It took literally seeing the sector come close to collapse for there to be a shift in understanding that ECE is an essential service.”
The pandemic also helped to reveal historic bias and discrimination against those who provide ECE services.
“We’ve understood for decades that babies are born learning, ” she says. “If it was just about educating policymakers and the public about this – we have done that repeatedly as a field. The lack of progress is about who does this work – women of color, immigrant women, low-income women.”
That means acknowledging their fundamental human rights while recognizing their role in raising an increasingly diverse generation headed for a competitive global workforce.
“It’s about valuing our youngest citizens,” she adds. “We spend more public funds on children as they get older and the least during the first 1000 days.”
As the general public gains greater awareness of these concerns, advocates like herself feel more emboldened in their approach to policymakers.
“We are finally asking for what it will truly take to build a sector that eliminates race, income, and zip code as a predictor of the ECE experience for a child and families that is fair to the workforce, that will capitalize on the importance of this developmental period, and that can deliver the ECE experiences that families want and need for their young children, especially families that have historically lacked access.”
That boldness is getting advocates closer to the goal. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan proposed investing a historic $390 billion in federal funds for childcare and pre-K, and only one dissenting vote from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) within the Democratic Caucus kept it from passing. Childcare and education were not included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the compromise bill that followed and ultimately got signed into law.
The near victory only fuels Calderon to keep pushing through her work at ZERO TO THREE, which, in partnership with organizations like UnidosUS, has successfully advocated for increases in Migrant Head Start and getting language access provisions for families in the major federal ECE programs.
“We still have a long way to go,” she says, noting that a lack of support for linguistically and culturally relevant ECE programs is rooted in anti-immigrant, pro-English policies. But today, she explains it’s impossible to ignore that one out of every three children is growing up in homes where languages other than English are spoken.
Then comes the question of better support and compensation for ECE teachers.
“If we aren’t compensating (ECE teachers) well and investing in their access to professional learning, credentials, and degrees, we won’t maintain a workforce that reflects the diversity of our children and families,” she explains.
ZERO TO THREE and UnidosUS are keen to keep this discussion centered on the knowledge and experience ECE workers have always brought to the table. For example, they caution against mandating bachelor’s degrees without first investing in the incumbent workforce.
“It’s not about being for or against the requirement. It’s about the barriers that have historically existed for women of color, immigrant women, low-income women to higher education and professional preparation opportunities,” she says. “It’s about not having degrees without the compensation that must go along with it. It’s about honoring the contributions of the workforce that has been doing this work and having options available for them in terms of how they want to advance in their careers.”
She is also a strong advocate for reminding the public that care and education go hand in hand.
“During COVID, I noticed that a lot of the talk about school-age children was about ‘learning loss’ – what children were missing in terms of academics,” she says. “The discussion around childcare was that adults couldn’t work – not that children missed out on important developmental and learning experiences.”
Her advice to Latina ECE workers?
“Continue to demand what you need— we won’t realize bold changes in ECE without your advocacy, without your voice to shape the policy.”
Maria Armstrong, executive director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), knows K-12 students need all the support they can get in catching up since the pandemic. She’s spent decades trying to help underserved communities. It began at the age of seven when she gathered kids in the neighborhood to teach them reading and math, or at least that was the role she imagined for herself. It paid off. She went on to serve as an assistant superintendent and superintendent in school districts around California; an adjunct professor at that state’s Azusa Pacific University and National University; and a consultant for the Puerto Rico Department of Education.
“Pandemic-era legislation leaders are in the thick of grappling with the aftermath and exposure of having the education curtain pulled open for all to see,” she says, adding that it is “moving us as a country toward acknowledgment of the past and present conditions to address our future.”
Because the United States is such a young country whose overall educational system once stood at the forefront of modernity, it’s easy for the country to get caught up in that narrative, she explains.
“For too long we have considered ourselves as better than anyone else on the planet, a very monolithic view from a country who prides itself as a melting pot of sorts,” she says.
That view of American exceptionalism probably comes from the fact that overall the country has rallied through many times of war and disaster. So how can it tap into its trait of resiliency and rally today with all students falling behind in their schooling and a greater number of those students coming from communities that were historically underserved in the first place?
“Our challenge is that we are not so young anymore, and it shouldn’t take an act of war or disaster to unite us on the conditions and issues of humanity, particularly that of education,” she says.
Not so young and not so naive. The current U.S. administration is aware that the country’s youthful confidence could pose a direct risk to the nation’s economy and security. For example, during his “Raise the Bar. Lead the World” tour, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona remarked that the quality and innovation of the U.S. education system is falling behind many countries and that it must do more in areas such as multilingual support if it wants to remain competitive.
“We need to raise the bar,” Cardona said in a January 24th speech to kick off his tour. “As much as it is about recovery, it’s also about setting higher standards for academic success in reading and mathematics. It’s unacceptable that in the most recent PISA test, an assessment which is done internationally, our students scored 36th place out of 79 countries in math.”
That’s a goal Armstrong is helping ALAS to lead on behalf of the country’s Latino students and educators. It starts with paying close attention to the issues ALAS’s affiliates are bringing to the discussion table.
“Our strength is only as great as the people we serve and that not only considers how we operate but provides direction in services and programs,” she says, noting that the ALAS’s board of directors boasts educational professionals who have either worked in K-12 leadership or are currently in the higher education space and know what students need to get there. Meanwhile, at the affiliate level, many of the leaders are full-time educators showing their commitment to underserved students by serving ALAS long after their workdays are done.
And their dedication fuels Armstrong’s leadership long after she retired from leading schools herself.
“People often ask me how I manage to attend every state event. My response is simple. Whenever invited, the least I can do is show support because it is through them that I gain my juice, my stamina, and the reason why I came out of the superintendency retirement,” she says.
But improving math and reading scores across all socio-economic groups needs to happen in a culturally relevant way, and it’s intimately tied to understanding the most uncomfortable parts of American history. Those are the parts where students identified as Black, Brown, immigrant, LGBTQ, female, and/or having disabilities were born into a system that historically sought to hold them back, and in many places still does.
To address this, ALAS is joining a long list of organizations working to protect and promote the teaching of truthful history and ethnic studies with the addition of an AP Latino American Course. And in 2020, ALAS partnered with the legacy youth-focused publishing company Scholastic Books to create the Rising Voices: Elevating Latino Stories Collection so that all students see themselves represented in children’s stories.
When asked about advice she has for other K-12 educators and advocates, she said: “I would rather provide encouragement than advice.”
She described that encouragement can come in the form of a reminder or an acknowledgment that advocates of educational equity aren’t in this battle alone. That networking can help to provide the brainstorming, support, and sense of connectedness they need to keep going.
“Our youth, our children, are counting on the adults in and out of the boardroom and classroom to do right by them,” she says. “Find your sister circle, and don’t give up.”
By day, higher education advocate Melody Gonzales serves as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. By night, she helps other professionals work on advancing their own careers by providing services as an executive leadership coach. On both fronts, she is actively encouraging Latinas to study hard and dream big.
“We need your voices and lived experiences in the education sector and in the federal government as a career staffer, presidential appointees, and policymakers,” she tells her fellow Latinas. “Start with a strong, growth mindset. Identify what negative thoughts or imposter syndrome tendencies might come into play that could hold you back and identify those positive thoughts/mantras and facts that ground you in the fact that you are capable and worthy.”
She also encourages Latinas interested in pursuing careers in education and education policy to always engage in social networking, as she rarely got her many career opportunities through online job applications alone.
In her own career, the early networking came organically as a news reporter in her native San Diego and as the manager of the neighboring Chula Vista Convention and Visitors Bureau. After attending Georgetown University for a master’s degree in public policy and a certificate of executive leadership coaching, as well as several other leadership certificates through Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Center for Creative Leadership, she found herself in a series of high-powered policy and advocacy roles.
Those included Latino engagement efforts for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and the founding of her own National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 39 national Latino nonprofits focused on encouraging Latinas to run for office and advising on campaigns related to economic empowerment, immigration, health, education, and voting rights.
Read the complete article originally posted on UnidosUs here.
Years ago, I facilitated a promotion committee made up of shop-floor employees who used performance evaluation data to rank all the eligible employees for a machine operator opening.
Even though Mike (not his real name) was the top candidate, many in the room still had doubts.
“He looks good on paper,” one person said, “but I don’t think he has what it takes.”
Others agreed. Early on, Mike had struggled in his current position. He wasn’t quick to learn. He sometimes needed to be shown multiple times. He wasn’t a “natural.”
I pushed back. It wasn’t fair to bypass him based on feelings rather than objective reasoning.
For a while, it looked like I was wrong. Once promoted, he was slow to pick up basic skills. Worryingly, he made a few of the same mistakes several times.
But once he did know how to do something? He really knew how to do it. Within a few years he was an outstanding machine operator whose skills surpassed those of his doubters. He even went on to earn several different machinist licenses, and later opened his own machine shop.
Mike wasn’t a natural. Nor was he talented.
But that didn’t matter.
Because Mike was exceptionally skilled.
The Difference Between Talent and Skill
Talent and skill are often used interchangeably since the outcome — performing a particular task, hopefully at a high level — is the same. The difference lies in how you acquired that ability, and how quickly.
Think of talent as natural aptitude. My best friend growing up was a natural athlete; he could, to an irritating degree to less talented me, pick up any new sport in no time. (Within the first ten minutes of playing tennis he was already hitting topspin forehands.)
In simple terms, talents are things you have.
Skills, on the other hand, are things you learn. I had to be taught to put topspin on a ball. I had to practice. I had to acquire that skill. It didn’t come quickly.
Again, that’s where the line between talent and skill can blur. We both ended up at roughly the same place in terms of skill, but talent allowed my friend to get there much quicker.
The rate of acquisition is one way to distinguish talent from skill. Mike took longer to learn; he wasn’t as talented as most.
But that didn’t keep him from acquiring exceptional skills.
And Why It Matters
Even so, for years most people couldn’t see past Mike’s initial lack of talent. Since he had started slowly, they underestimated him. First impressions lingered. He was rarely asked to help repair other operator’s equipment. He wasn’t chosen to train new employees, even though he would have been an excellent trainer. (The last person you want to teach you to do something is a person for whom that skill came easily.)
In the eyes of most, he was forever tarred by a “lack of talent” brush.
The opposite also happens. People who pick things up quickly are often assumed to be rated highly for that skill even if others eventually eclipse their skill. “Naturals” were usually chosen to train new employees, with predictably poor results. They couldn’t understand why trainees were slow to learn. They couldn’t explain the steps they performed instinctively.
And they were usually the ones people assumed “have what it takes” to deserve promotions.
Even though the rate at which you acquire a skill is, in the end, irrelevant. What matters is how well you can perform.
Not how long it took you to become a high performer.
Especially for Promotions
Granted, talent often results in a higher ceiling for aptitude. No matter how hard I tried, had he put in the work my friend could have been better than me at tennis, or really any sport.
Even so, assuming people who pick up things quickly have greater long-term growth potential is often misguided. Plenty of talented people top out fairly quickly, if only because innate talent tends to foster a fixed rather than growth mindset.
Plus, your other employees are less concerned with potential than actual. That’s one reason employees are more likely to be happy if their boss was promoted from within, rather than hired from the outside. A Joblist study showed that nearly 70 percent of respondents prefer to be managed by an internal hire — a seasoned company veteran who climbed the ranks — than an external hire.
They know the skills she has. They know the work she put in to acquire those skills.
Again, because what matters is what someone can do, not how long it took them to learn to do it.
The same is also true for you. Don’t have a “talent” for sales? Sales skills can be learned. Don’t have a “talent” for leading people? Most leadership skills — like giving feedback, building teams, setting expectations, showing consideration for others, seeking input, focusing on meaningful priorities, etc. — can be learned.
Granted, talent and skill are necessary to perform at a high level in some pursuits, like music, or sports or acting … but most pursuits — like starting a small business — only require skills.
And with the willingness to put in the work to acquire those skills.
Of the 12 billionaires I’ve met (yes, I keep count), Mark Cuban seems the most relatable. Partly that’s because he’s entirely self-made.
But also because, like most, he believes success comes down to effort and ability. And because, like most, he hates meetings. And because, as most of us like to think we are, he’s a genuinely good person.
As a result, Cuban’s advice often seems more applicable to the average person hoping to achieve success in their chosen pursuit. He’s done what we hope to do — and as a result, he knows what really matters.
Sales Skills Matter
What would Cuban do if he had to start over again?
“I would get a job as a bartender at night and a sales job during the day,” he says, “and I would start working. Could I become a multimillionaire again? I have no doubt.”
The reason is simple: Everyone needs to be able to explain the logic and benefits of a decision. To convince other people an idea makes sense. To show investors how a business will generate a return. To help employees understand the benefits of a new process.
To motivate and inspire and lead.
Because sales skills are, in essence, communication skills — and communication skills are critical to any business or career.
Which means spending time in a sales role, whether formally or informally, is an investment that will pay off forever.
Constant Learning Matters
What does Cuban feel will drive the next wave of business change? Artificial intelligence.
As Cuban says:
“If you don’t know AI, you’re the equivalent of somebody in 1999 saying, “I’m sure this Internet thing will be OK, but I don’t give a shit.” If you want to be relevant in business, you have to, or you will be a dinosaur very quickly. If you don’t know how to use it and you don’t understand it and you can’t at least have a basic understanding of the different approaches and how the algorithms work, you can be blindsided in ways you couldn’t even possibly imagine.”
That’s not just posturing; Cuban put his mind and money where his mouth is. He frequently recommends books about artificial intelligence, like Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World. And he’s committed millions to expand his AI Bootcamps Program, an organization that teaches artificial-intelligence skills at no cost to high school students in low-income communities across the country.
“The world’s first trillionaires,” Cuban says, “are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of.”
While most of us don’t dream of becoming a trillionaire, no matter what your industry, no matter what your pursuit, things always change. Things always evolve. They key is to know how to change with them. Which you can only do if you’re constantly, actively learning.
Being Nice Matters
Think about the best boss you ever had. Odds are they were demanding. They had high expectations. They may have provided occasional doses of tough love.
But I’m guessing they were also nice. Not soft, not lenient. But even so, nice.
That’s a lesson Cuban had to learn. As he says:
“I went through my own metamorphosis. Early on in my career, I was like bam, bam, bam, bam, bam — I might curse. I might get mad. I got to the point… I wouldn’t have wanted to do business with me when I was in my 20s. I had to change. And I did. And it really paid off. One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice. Nice sells.”
He’s right. When you’re nice, other people are more forgiving of your mistakes. Other people are more tolerant of your lack of experience or skill. Other people are more willing to work with you, help you, encourage you and, if you’re a leader, follow you.
Finding Your Passion Doesn’tMatter
Ask 10 people if they love what they do — ask 10 people if they’ve found their passion — and at least eight will likely say no.
Not to Cuban, who feels “follow your passions” is “one of the great lies of life,” and is the “worst advice you could ever give or get.”
According to Cuban, passion doesn’t come first. For Cuban, passion comes later:
“A lot of people talk about passion, but that’s really not what you need to focus on. When you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it. If you put in enough time, and you get really good, I will give you a little secret: Nobody quits anything they are good at, because it is fun to be good. It is fun to be one of the best. But in order to be one of the best, you have to put in effort.”
So don’t follow your passions. Follow your effort.
That’s why Cuban completed Amazon’s machine learning tutorials. That’s why he spent time building his own neural networks. That’s why, at one point, he kept the book Machine Learning for Dummies in his bathroom.
“The more I understand AI, the more I get excited about it,” Cuban said.
In short, Cuban didn’t discover a passion for artificial intelligence. He developed it.
Oddly enough, according to a 2014 study published in the Academy of Management Journal, that’s how the process often works for entrepreneurs.
While it’s easy to assume that entrepreneurial passion drives entrepreneurial effort, research shows the reverse is also true: Entrepreneurial passion increases with effort. The more work entrepreneurs put into their startups, the more enthusiastic they get about their businesses.
As they gain momentum, gain skill and enjoy small successes — even if those “successes” only involve ticking off items on their seemingly endless to-do lists — their passion grows.
Can passion spark effort? Absolutely.
But effort can also spark passion, which in turn sparks greater effort, and greater passion, until one day you wake up and realize you are doing what you love.
Even if it didn’t start out that way.
Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.
The daughter of two Colombian immigrants, Soraya Benitez was exposed to many natural/homeopathic remedies as a child that were native to her father’s home of Cali, Colombia. Her parents always kept her and her siblings healthy with simple, natural products. Today, she is the Founder and CEO of MommaBear Organics, a Company that makes artisanal, organic lollipops and suckers that aid with common ailments. Hispanic Network Magazine (HNM) spoke with Soraya to find out more about her WBENC-certified organic lollipop company and how certification has helped her journey to success.
HNM: What is MommaBear USA and how did you get started?
Soraya Benitez (SB): MommaBear Organics is a women-led, BIPOC-owned company dedicated to providing functional candies for common ailments. Our herbal lollipopsare organic and free from GMOs, gluten, dairy, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Our lollipopsare artisanal and made in small batches with carefully sourced herbal and organic ingredients proudly hand-crafted in the USA.
Several years ago, when my then toddler was sick with a bad cold, he fought me tirelessly about taking his cough medicine. I was sitting on the couch with my husband and said to him, ‘If only he wanted his medicine as much as he loves his candy!’ I asked my husband if there was anything like that on the market. He proceeded to show me a cough product lollipop for kids. When I looked at the ingredient list, I turned to him and said, ‘NO WAY! It had several ingredients I could not pronounce including FD&C Blue a common food dye linked to asthma and other ailments.
As a caregiver and a mom, I feel strongly that moms want to know what ingredients are in the products they use. Clean living and eating aren’t a fad that’s going away. I believe it’s a way of life for families of this generation. Thus, began the journey of MommaBear Organics.
HNM: How did you learn about small business certifications for women and minorities? Why did you decide to pursue certification and which ones have you received?
SB: When I attended the Fancy Food Show in New York City, I came across a few booths that featured the WBENC logo. After learning from several small businesses about the positive impact it had on their business, we decide to embark on the process.
HNM: What were your trials and tribulations on the road to certification? How has certification helped your business?
SB: It was an incredibly detailed and lengthy process. I had to plead with my bank for a few necessary forms! In the end, I am grateful we applied for certification. We have attended some wonderful networking events and met some amazing women who are true leaders in their respective industries.
HNM: What perks have you embraced from being certified, for example, have you connected with any of the mentors, peer-to-peer resources, financial advice, attended conferences or conventions, etc.?
SB: We attended a recent WBENC cocktail reception in New York City where we met with and heard from some inspiring executives. We were able to connect with someone from Amazon and discussed some of the issues we were facing with this channel. It was incredible to be able to connect with someone live, given we had spent months trying to reach someone to no avail! We will continue to lean on WBENC’s vast array of resources.
HNM: If you could offer one piece of advice for women business owners thinking about certification, what would you say?
SB: Absolutely apply for it! Being a small new business is hard enough and comes with enough trials and tribulations! Being part of a community of smart, like-minded women, along with WBENC’s strong and deep network, will be invaluable to our small and growing business over time.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Soraya Benitez & MommaBear Organics
Recently, a friend shared with me she was meeting a lot of great people by swiping right. I was a bit taken aback because she is, what appears to be, happily married. My response caused her to grin and clarify she was not looking for romance. She was using a new app to find mom-friends. It has similar features to the infamous Tinder dating app, but the purpose is to narrow down the vast number of moms in an area to those who share similar interests.
As she further explained how the app worked and her success, my opinion of this swipe left/swipe right function began to change. With correct intentions, the technology could be helpful.
HOW TO SWIPE FOR NETWORKING SUCCESS
Consider all of the factors that go into choosing a mentor or mentee. It would be great to quickly swipe through professional profiles to find a good match. I would look for things like: integrity, honesty, enthusiasm, skills and experience. I would want someone who was passionate about growing new leaders and committed to investing the time it takes to do so. But just like the popular dating app, a swipe right on a mentor’s professional profile would not mean a match. My profile would also need to reflect good mentee status.
If you were seeking a mentor, here are a few things you would need to get swiped right.
Good mentors and good mentees use their time intentionally. It can be difficult to find coordinating availability, so be accommodating. Make this opportunity a priority and accept the meeting time offered.
Good mentors have a wealth of knowledge, and a good mentee is going to pull out that great information. Think about what you admire in this mentor and ask questions to discover how he/she developed that skill or ability.
Nothing is worse than a person who ‘knows it all’ except a person wanting to be mentored who ‘knows it all.’ If the conversation turns to a topic you feel confident about, pivot the discussion to something else with a new question or ask for feedback about a time you have utilized that specific knowledge.
It is ok and important to open up and share about yourself, but give your mentor the chance to lead the conversation. If you are doing most of the talking at every meeting, the balance is off.
Willing to take advice
No mentor is perfect, but there is an assumption their role has been given because he/she has been successful in an area. There is no expectation that a mentee must mirror the mentor’s experience, however, if instruction/advice/guidance is continually being disregarded, you will be right on track to find yourself without a mentor.
Willing to be a mentor
A good mentor has a goal to inspire and teach others. It is a reward to see the investment of their time multiplied by their mentee becoming a mentor. Honor your mentor and give yourself the joy of pouring into someone else. Swipe right on your own mentee.
Just about every career in the STEM field requires some form of university-level education. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you own and then some to pursue your dream job.
Whether it’s through federal funding, non-profit organizations or individual donations, there are tons of scholarship and grant opportunities for students wanting to pursue the world of STEM.
Here are just a few of the scholarships that you can apply for:
The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship
Since World War II, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been doing all they can to support the needs of women engineers across the country. One of the ways they do this is through the SWE Scholarship Program, which provides varying fund amounts to those identifying as women and studying in undergraduate or graduate programs in the STEM field. While the specific amount you can receive varies, the program gave away over $1,220,000 in scholarships in 2021 alone. All students, from incoming freshman to graduate students, may apply but freshman must fill out a separate application form.
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Applications usually often in December for upperclassman and the following March for freshman
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts Scholarships
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AAIA) is an organization dedicated to supporting the future generation of people interested in the aerospace field. One of the ways they do this is through their scholarship program, where undergraduates and graduates alike can fill out a single application and be eligible for consideration for up to three scholarships from their program. To apply, you must be at least a sophomore in college and a member of AAIA.
The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically Black land-grant colleges and universities. The program provides full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books and room and board each year for up to four years for selected students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food science, natural resource science or a related academic discipline at one of 19 designated 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. The scholarship may be renewed each year, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Scholars accepted into the program will be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree requirements by the end of the agreement period.
Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)
In a collaboration with American Society for Engineering Education and the Department of Defense, the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program is for students wanting to go into engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, chemistry and cognitive, neural and behavioral sciences. In addition to full tuition coverage, SMART students will receive health insurance, mentoring, internship opportunities and a guaranteed job offer from the Department of Defense. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, be available for summer internships and are expected to accept the job position offered to them upon completing their education.
NOAA Office of Education’s student scholarship programs provide opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience while pursuing research and educational training in NOAA-mission sciences. The Hollings and EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship share a common application and students who are eligible for both programs are encouraged to apply to both. To be eligible, you must be a sophomore at a four-year university program, a junior at a five-year university program or a community college student transferring to a university.
Amount: $9,500 per academic year plus paid summer internship opportunities
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Opens October 2022/Closes January 2023
Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the National Science Foundation (NSF) founded the S-STEM Program, a fund that provides awards to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to fund scholarships and to adapt, implement and study evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that have been shown to be effective in supporting recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways and graduation in STEM. While most of the students who receive this award are studying an area of the STEM field, proposals can be made for funds to be given to students who meet the same qualifications, but are studying a high-demand industry. The amounts distributed depend on the institution.
Social movements have shaped society into what we see today, from labor to civil rights and women’s movements. Thanks to social media, we can collaborate from the comfort of our homes to drive social change, to expose injustice and to advocate for policies that protect vulnerable communities. As generational values, preferences and ideals shift, and GenZ, the most diverse generation in history, prepares to take the lead, all eyes are on how today’s businesses respond through innovation.
Introducing Chelsea C. Williams, the Founder and CEO of Reimagine Talent, who shared her expertise leading workplace & talent development and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) as a speaker at the annual SHRM Inclusion Conference. Williams shed light on the rise of social enterprises that appeal to a generation who desire to blend profit with purpose. “This makes me really excited because I believe a movement is taking place,” said Williams. “The social entrepreneur is not just focused on bringing a product or service to market…they’re not just moved by revenue, a social entrepreneur wants to make an impact…they want to drive social progress, deliver socially conscious goods, and bridge sectors towards progress.”
William’s journey to entrepreneurship was not easy, considering her quest to entrepreneurship consisted of many obstacles without a roadmap. From navigating childhood as the daughter of immigrant parents, to funding her way through Historically Black College & University, Spelman College, to launching her early career on Wall Street as an “only,” Williams has overcome significant odds. During her time on Wall Street, she represented 1% of Black employees. With that reality came its own set of challenges personally and professionally.
“I believe [in] diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging [and] I can intentionally lead that work now because I lived exclusion,” said Williams. “During my early career, I clearly saw the beauty of belonging and toxicity of exclusion — both of which playing significant impacts on the global workforce & workplace.”
Leadership with Impact
Despite representation barriers experienced in her career, Williams still found the confidence to reimagine the future and write up a business plan that would address real issues she encountered in her roles managing & leading human resources. In 2018, she stepped made the decision to leave corporate America, first completing a social impact fellowship at Teach for America and then launching her firm.
“I early learned that leadership doesn’t have an age, it doesn’t have a look, it doesn’t have a race, it has to do with impact,” stated Williams. “You can have a business that is focused on revenue, but also have a part of your mission statement or part of your strategy that is addressing a social issue. Within the case, entrepreneurs are addressing societal barriers such as the intersection between gainful employment and racism, as two examples, but also tapping into the opportunities that come with entrepreneurship such as financial prosperity and ownership.”
To awaken your inner activist as part of your business strategy takes skill that supersedes the continuous hard versus soft skill debate circulating the workplace. Instead of pinning hard and soft skills in a battle of importance, consider both skills a necessity. “Language is important. Instead of referencing hard skills, let’s say technical, let’s say job function specific skills. Instead of soft skills, let’s say interpersonal skills, leadership skills,” said Williams. “If you’re leading an organization to function or promotion, you better believe that those skills actually become more important than what got you there from the beginning.”
Creating solutions in organizations to fight social issues takes more than diversity; it takes understanding, building and nurturing relationships. “Being open to learning and supporting people, especially those who are different than us, is our ability to lead effectively in 2022 and beyond,” said Williams. “Our mission at Reimagine Talent is to educate the next-gen workforce and empower conscious organizations to build workplaces of belonging.”
Turning a Vision into Action
Despite many years of progression and historical wins, writing the business vision and making it compelling and relevant takes courage. In this case, Williams challenges aspiring social entrepreneurs to turn their vision into a business plan and to consider the economic impact of today’s most pressing challenges. Considering 45.2% of social enterprises only last between one to three years, and 45% earn less than a $250,000 profit, it’s crucial to focus on impact without forgetting the importance of running a scalable business.
“Even with vision for impact, do not lose sight of the fact that you’re still an entrepreneur, and if you’re for profit, you still have to make a profit to grow your team, products and processes; if you’re not moved by profit, you should start a non-profit,” said Williams. “Broadening out to what your vision is for your business, who do you want to serve, answering those questions upfront and really thinking about [the] short and long term is important. In the early days, you want to test out your product or service and make sure you’ve got customers/clients.”
Williams shows the beauty that comes with fully owning our stories and leveraging the roadblocks as a springboard to purpose. Her access and experiences now grant opportunity to future generations. As we reflect on her mission, let’s consider our own and ignite the confidence to become something we may have never seen before.
In order to reach, connect with and sell to your target market, you need to have a firm grasp on who they are. Conducting market research will help you develop a fuller picture of your target customers.
There are two kinds of market research. In primary research, you conduct your own research on customers who match your target demographic. In secondary research, you get information on your target customers from outside sources, such as government statistics or industry surveys.
No matter which type of research you’re conducting, your goal is to gather the following information:
Market size: How many individuals, households or businesses make up your target market? Is the market getting bigger (good news for your startup) or shrinking (not-so-good news)?
Market demographics: If you are targeting consumers, demographics include factors such as whether they are married, their average age, marital status, gender, educational attainment, employment and whether they have children. Businesses have demographics too: Theirs include average number of employees, industry, annual revenues, age of the business, public or private company, product or service sold and what industry they operate in.
Location: Where are most of your customers located? If the region where you plan to open for business lacks enough of your target customers, for instance, you’ll either need to locate elsewhere or adjust your business model.
Income: You’ll want to know the average household income of consumers and the average revenues of businesses.
Purchasing habits: Beyond income, dig into your target market’s spending habits. How much do they typically spend on the types of products or services you plan to sell? How and where do they buy? How frequently do they buy?
Last, but not least, find out what businesses that are competing for the same target market. Learning as much as you can about your competition will give you an idea of their strengths and weaknesses, and how much market share you can potentially capture.
Where do you get all this information? Generally, it’s best to start with secondary research to give you a big-picture look at your target market. Here are some secondary sources:
Industry trade associations generally conduct and maintain current market research.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder has statistics on consumers; the Census Bureau also compiles statistics on U.S. businesses.
If you’re planning to do business globally, visit Export.gov for country-specific market research.
Are you targeting businesses as customers? Visit Hoover’s and ThomasNet.
The Small Business Association (SBA) website links to a wide range of resources for market research on both individuals and businesses.
Once secondary research has given you a general overview of your target market, dig deeper by conducting your own primary research. You’ll need to find a representative sample of your target market, which you can do by mining your own connections, renting email lists or contacting organizations to see if their members are willing to take part. Here are four primary research methods to try:
Surveys: You can conduct phone surveys, surveys by mail or online surveys. SurveyMonkey, Zoho Surveys and QuestionPro are free survey apps that let you create, conduct and analyze the results of your own surveys online.
Interviews: Interviews can be done by phone or in person. They’re often an effective way to capture target customers who don’t spend a lot of time online, but they are more time consuming than online surveys.
Focus Groups: In a focus group, individuals participate in a group discussion about some aspect of your business in exchange for remuneration. You’ll need someone to lead the focus group discussion and someone to record the results. While focus groups can yield good insights, be wary of extrapolating from a small group to your entire customer base.
Test Marketing: Doing a “test run” of your product or service by selling to a limited group of target customers is a good way to work out the kinks in your business model. However, you may need to follow up and ask your test customers questions to determine what influenced the test marketing’s success or failure.
Take the time to do your market research, because understanding your market is key to your startup’s success.
Netflix is partnering with Formation to build a world where people from every walk of life have a seat at the table in tech.
Our program will be completely free of charge for students accepted. It is designed to unlock your engineering potential with personalized training and world-class mentorship from the best engineers across the tech industry.
The below information will be required, and adding why you want to land a New Grad Engineering role at Netflix.
The application requires:
Info about your experience, education, and background
Imagine you step into an elevator, and someone you professionally admire is standing inside. You exchange pleasantries, and she casually says, “So tell me about yourself.” It’s a broad question we’ve all heard, and a great answer can create new opportunities in both your professional and personal life. But you only have 30 seconds to impress your abilities upon this influential person. Are you able to articulate your strengths and accomplishments in that time? And can you naturally integrate an “ask” into the conversation?
Perfecting a response to such a general inquiry can be quite challenging, and it requires some thoughtful preparation. Having a solid answer to this question can help in many settings — in interviews, networking events, etc. — not just elevators.
To help you draft and complete an exceptional elevator pitch, here are three key steps you need to consider:
Step One: Brainstorm Your Skills
Let’s brainstorm your best qualities, skills and past performance highlights that you should mention in your elevator pitch. What comes to mind first? This is not exclusively for professional experience — maybe you are highly organized and efficient in your personal life. Perhaps you volunteer regularly in your community. List everything that you’re proud of or passionate about.
What do you enjoy doing? What are you great at?
What positive feedback have you received from an employer and/or teacher?
What are your greatest accomplishments?
Step Two: Personalize Your Answer
A personalized elevator pitch will make you memorable and relatable. Think about how you can stand out and look special amongst a large candidate pool. What makes you special and worth investing in over another applicant? We can refer to this as your “unique value proposition (UVP).”
Your UVP can be a professional qualification or certification, but it can also be a personal characteristic, such as intellect. Just make sure you quantify your claim with detailed, factual information. For example, if your UVP is that you are highly intelligent, make sure you follow that claim with quantifiable and relevant proof.
To develop your UVP, answer the following questions:
What does a hiring manager desire? Whether applying to an actual position or imagining your dream position, what is that professional position’s objective and/or purpose? Think about why the position exists and how it functions. What is the goal of someone in that position? You can follow an actual job description or imagine what a hiring manager would desire from such a candidate.
What do qualified candidates offer? What type of skills or abilities does a person need in this position? This can be anything from education to professional and life experiences. Think about what the perfect candidate would embody. You can follow the requirements listed in an actual job description or imagine what an ideal candidate would provide.
What unique abilities do you offer? What do you want to mention that is not detailed through your general qualifications and skills but makes you unique? While only listing skills, talents and/or hobbies relevant to the desired position, make sure to include extra details about yourself beyond the requirements contained in the job description.
When answering these questions, your overlapping answers are the best qualities to focus on for your UVP.
Step Three: Define Your Goal or “Ask”
What is the professional goal that you are currently working towards? This is a pivotal part of your elevator pitch. If the person to whom you are speaking is a hiring manager, your boss or someone who can help you attain your professional goals, what would you like to ask of them?
While your goal can be hugely aspirational, your “ask” requires someone else’s assistance, so remember to keep it reasonable. Ask for an informational interview to explore potential opportunities, rather than directly asking for a job, which could be seen as requesting preferential treatment. An elevator pitch is not an opportunity to set an expectation of another person; it’s an opportunity to prove yourself!
What is your short-term professional goal? What is your long-term professional goal? If you need more help defining goals, check out the YALI Network Online Course lesson “Setting and Achieving Goals.”
What is the career objective or your dream job?
What will help you achieve your objective or attain your dream job (e.g., internship, job, advice, reference, mentor)?
Put It All Together
Once complete, go back through these three exercises and highlight or circle the top points you want to emphasize in your elevator pitch. Pick one top point from each step, then place each part together in a smooth and natural dialogue. While having a written script helps draft what you wish to say, you won’t always have a precise script in front of you, so try to keep things conversational and light. Be sure to practice giving your elevator pitch in front of a mirror and with friends, family or colleagues.
Here are a couple of examples of strong elevator pitches. Make sure you tailor yours to speak about your own experiences, strengths, skills and goals!
Example 1: Hi, my name is [insert name]. I’m currently studying education, and I’m interested in securing a job that will allow me to continue teaching and developing lessons. One of my greatest strengths is my ability to make my courses very practical for my students, helping them apply these lessons in their communities. Because my former volunteer work with nonprofit programs was key to my success, it’s important for me to help others develop to their highest potential. Do you know of any education nonprofits where they are looking for someone like me to help others reach their potential?
Example 2: Hi, I’m [insert name]. I’m a Human Resources Manager at [insert company] looking for more experience in the field. I’m looking for advice on further expanding my expertise in this field because my ultimate goal is to help organizations develop more tolerant workplace cultures. My supervisors frequently compliment me for being able to see different sides of the same story and negotiate with different personalities.
So, you gave your elevator pitch? Great work! Don’t forget to exchange contact information with your new professional acquaintance, and always follow up with a thank-you note (if the acquaintance did you a favor).