By Illianna Acosta | LinkedIn Blog | September 16, 2021
During September 15 – October 15, LinkedIn recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month in the US, a time to celebrate the stories and rich cultures of Latino communities, while driving meaningful conversations about Latino + Hispanic professionals in the workplace. As a Latina, raised by a single mother with limited access to educational and financial resources, this topic is incredibly important and personal to me. It serves as an opportunity to not only honor the history and adversity we’ve had to overcome but to also come together and continue driving awareness around the unique experiences that impact our community. This is true especially now as about half of Hispanic adults (49%) say they or someone in their household has experienced job loss, a layoff or a cut in pay due to the impact of the pandemic.
When I first started my professional career, I always wondered why I had to fit myself into a box. Was it my big curly hair, my caramel skin, my New York-Latina accent, was I just not good enough? For years, I would only go to interviews with my hair straightened, and when I got the job, I’d continue to wear my hair in this way so as to appear more “professional” as I thought at the time. I thought once folks got to know me, my big, curly hair wouldn’t matter and I wouldn’t be judged for my differences.
However, I’ve learned over the years that being different was how I’ve been able to overcome adversity, leave an impression, and create change in my workplace. I started to embrace my hair, the color of my skin, my culture, my high-on-life energy that seemed to be too much for some, and all my superpowers that made me uniquely me. All of these characteristics are part of me, and how I have chosen to self identify on LinkedIn.
As we continue to acknowledge and celebrate our differences, it’s also important to create spaces that amplify our voices and address the obstacles Latinos continue to face in the workplace today.