We Can All Band Together to Drive Change

When you think of the word “equality,” what do you feel? A sense of hope? Progress? Pride? Or perhaps, frustration and uncertainty? I am a proud half-black, half-Mexican, gay woman who was raised in a predominately Latino community in Los Angeles. When I think of the word “equality,” I feel all of the above, but I also feel an ever-present drive to do whatever I can to open possibilities for those who come from underrepresented backgrounds. And what does that require? My own professional and personal experiences have made me a firm believer in the power of education, the power of representation, and the power that advocates have in leveling the playing field and opening the realm of possibilities for everyone.

THE POWER OF EDUCATION – I can honestly say that attending college changed my life. For those who are privileged enough to attend, college opens your mind to new possibilities, exposes you to diverse cultures and perspectives, and offers greater lanes of opportunity no matter your background. To help others experience the same, I started a small company that helped students apply to college. Many of my students came from extremely diverse backgrounds and have since gone on to become business leaders, lawyers, and even amazing artists. Whether college changed their stars the way it did mine, attending college opened new opportunities for them to make their own mark on the world.

THE POWER OF REPRESENTATION – Recently, a friend’s niece came up to me and said, “You’re the one who went to Yale and makes Barbies!” After quickly explaining to her that I don’t actually make Barbie (I wish), but that I do lead Diversity & Inclusion at Mattel, she and I briefly talked about the robotics team that she’s on at school, the same elementary school that her uncle and I attended. Seeing the look on her face, and feeling the connection of having been in her shoes decades before, reminded me just how much representation matters, especially as the first step in envisioning one’s own future possibilities.

THE POWER OF ADVOCATES – Education and representation are important, but to see greater strides in diversity and inclusion across academia and in business, we need all hands on deck. From business leaders to volunteers for local community initiatives, we can all band together to drive change, no matter how large or small. And, as the Lorax said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”