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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Diversity > Latino Advice Columnists Got it All Wrong

Latino Advice Columnists Got it All Wrong

LatinaLista — Today, a question was posed to three Latino advice columnists.

The question:

I’ve always heard of the glass ceiling for nonwhite, nonmale workers, but is there such a thing as a “token ceiling”? I’m a Latina professional who’s competent, loyal and ambitious, but guess what? My boss is competent, loyal and ambitious, and she’s the only Latino manager in the building. 

Don’t get me wrong,  she is a great boss and I have a good relationship with her. But I’m starting to notice that room for advancement to upper management here is limited to a “one at a time” policy for minorities and women. I know I should be pursuing my options, regardless. How can I tell if this is really the case and not just my perception – without going to my boss or making an official human-resources inquiry?

How the three advice partners answered this pregunta (question) was clear they didn’t get it.

Their responses ranged from: Regardless of the demographics of your current managers, promotion takes time.

and

It’s as if instead of helping each other out, we Latinos arrive at success and then slam the door shut to keep other hermanos (brothers and sisters) out.

to

You need to stop noticing and start getting noticed. Imagine a world where you have equal ability and equal potential and you are a hard-working, valued employee.

Competency, loyalty and ambition will always get you further than worrying about race, sex or religion. So adopt the attitude that makes things happen because of who you are and what you do.

Though encouraging as these answers are, they don’t address a very real situation that occurs in too many companies today, and one which the writer saw very clearly: To satisfy, real or imagined, diversity goals, companies feel that representation of one racial minority satisfies the quota.

It’s not a matter of playing the victim or even being kept down by our fellow Latinos. It’s a situation that is so embedded in corporate America that it’s passed off with easy excuses like “not enough qualified candidates of color” or “nobody of color qualified applies.”

It’s called institutional racism.

Institutional racism is so subtle that people who claim it will almost always be accused of looking for it so as to bolster attention to themselves.

Yet, depending on the company, no matter how much a person of color holds advanced degrees, works their butt off or contributes ideas to the company, they will always be told they just don’t quite qualify for the coveted position — if they’re told at all.

How does someone even know there’s institutional racism practiced at a particular company?

Well, when management is overwhelmingly represented by one ethnicity when the workforce of the company is diverse, is usually a pretty good indication.

Institutionalized racism doesn’t just occur in corporate America. It’s found in the management at media companies and in higher education as well.

If I was one of the consejeros, I would have told the letter writer, that she is probably right in noticing how the company is satisfied with one person of color being in management, and her turn to advance probably won’t happen until her friend either leaves the company or is transferred to some other department.

In the meantime, she can prepare herself for a management position by taking some business management classes and contributing ideas on how to improve efficiency and create innovation at the company.

Also, it’s a great opportunity to take an initiative and suggest to management that a mentoring program be inaugurated so those who want to move up can learn the ropes from seasoned professionals.

If all this fails to snag a management position at her present company, not all is lost. She just enhanced her resume enough to prove attractive to maybe a company that is more progressive and understands the benefits of having a diverse management team – even if that means having more than one person of the same color.

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