What Diversity and Inclusion mean to me

CLA / Other SiVaGuNeDo
May 25, 2018 15 Comments

Growing up in a multi-cultural home in East San José during the 60’s, I had no idea what diversity meant. My parents raised me to be color-blind, and to treat others with empathy, respect and kindness.

In September of 1972 I started middle school in another neighborhood. When I invited Mike (one of my classmates) over to my house, I’ll never forget his reaction when we turned onto my street: “man, you’re poor!” We stayed friends, and when I visited his home (up on the hill), it was clear that he lived a completely different life. His father was an airline pilot, and I guess a pilot is paid more than a mailman.

About my dad: smart, wise, and loved like the day is long. The man I’ll just never be: unselfish, kind, fair. He graduated high school at the top of his class (Joliet Township High School, class of 1940, in Illinois). My grandparents needed my dad to work and bring home money for the family to make ends meet. I’m sure my dad thought he would continue his education later. Well, Pearl Harbor happened – he served honorably in Europe and came home to start a family.

My mom: strong, fun, and loving. Fifth grade education while working the fields. She continued working in the canneries in San José. Rough stuff – that’s why I never describe what I do as “working hard.” She taught me life lessons, “never complain about going to work – many people do not have jobs.”

What does all this have to do with Diversity and Inclusion? It turns out the world is not as color-blind as my parents; nor is the world as empathetic or loving.

By the time I finished graduate school at San José State University, I had more of an awareness of my background. It was empowering and inspiring to participate in Latino Commencement. The keynote speaker that afternoon spoke of the responsibility taken on by each of us to reach out and help another. Not to rest on our laurels.

I’ve taken that call-to-action literally and live each day trying my best to help others avoid the mistakes I have made during my career. People of color are often referred to as “at-risk.” When I have tried to make a difference, I have sometimes run into resistance (e.g., “why should Latinos receive special treatment?”).

I believe there is a difference between special treatment and equitable opportunities to close the gap. When it comes to education, Latino learners often begin kindergarten so far behind the others, they do not catch up by the end of high school. Why? Lack of nutritional food options, no WiFi, no laptops, neither parent having a college education, the need to work to help the family survive. The hurdles go on and on.

With early intervention like a culturally-relevant curriculum, programs including First 5, and role models – sponsors who take the time to give something back to others - we can begin to close the opportunity gap. Sponsor are able to teach others to learn from their mistakes. We should all be mindful of the optics of a person of color wearing a suit and tie (a woman leading a meeting in the boardroom). This sponsorship will provide the lessons that are not taught in our schools – navigating political firestorms, finding the most rewarding career choices, and making a difference to others.

The meaning of Diversity and Inclusion to me is creating an environment where differences are encouraged, recognized, and celebrated to foster an organization’s growth. Through this, I believe the world will become the place my parents imagined.

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TOP 15 Comments
  • Uber DAmZP3
    You and your latino friends grew up in US, a privileged place, and grew up in luxury comparing to who grew up in India.
    Now you want SPECIAL TREATMENT because you and you friends were poorer than a PILOT'S CHILD???
    That's funny.
    May 25, 2018 0
  • Airbnb Campor
    “Latino learners often begin kindergarten so far behind the others, they do not catch up by the end of high school. Why? Lack of nutritional food options, no WiFi, no laptops, neither parent having a college education, the need to work to help the family survive.”

    These are problems due to socioeconomic status, not due to race. In raw numbers there are many more white students that fit the above description in the US.

    I wouldn’t be opposed if these programs targeted people based on economic background. Targeting based on race seems wrong unless there is really something unique to the race.
    May 25, 2018 3
    • Facebook sum41pwd
      Does a national history of discrimination based on race count? I don’t think there is anything unique about race either, it would make sense for other countries to focus on programs around caste or ethnicity, but the USA definitely has a long history of systemic race based discrimination.
      May 25, 2018
    • Airbnb Campor
      Historical discrimination is irrelevant to children that haven’t been personally subject to it. The only systematic race-based discrimination involved in our school systems currently is *in favor* of underrepresented minorities, and doesn’t come into play until the college level.
      May 25, 2018
    • Facebook sum41pwd
      Lol ok
      May 25, 2018
  • New / Eng ++
    Diversity and Inclusion are implemented with Racism and Discrimination. There might be something wrong with it, but I can't put my finger on it
    May 25, 2018 3
    • CareerBuilder JonDoe1
      source?
      May 25, 2018
    • New / Eng ++
      Read the Original Post. OP participated in racist gathering based on Exclusion. And now they is spreading propaganda everywhere they can, starting with/including blind.
      May 25, 2018
    • CareerBuilder JonDoe1
      That isn't what racism is.
      May 26, 2018
  • Microsoft oh snap
    Many us come from humble backgrounds. And I dare to say that you are privileged to have grown up and be educated in the US. Open your eyes to what today’s living & education conditions are in so many parts of the world. For many of us it was much worse. We are your colleagues who are just labeled as having benefited from white privilege. 🙄 I feel like throwing up every time I hear that.

    You got in. It means you’re just as capable as everyone else. Stop playing the victim olympics and just do your best. I guarantee you no one will hold you back because you were poor or because you’re Latino. The only thing that’s hurting us all as a company and as professional community is racist policies.
    May 25, 2018 0
  • LinkedIn BlahAndBla
    Diversity and inclusion should be more bottom up than top down. Say we should focus on Latino kids/girl child in school than asking whether there are enough Latino/Women VPs at google (and similar companies).

    People cry foul that it is preferential treatment because at higher levels (like for boardroom or VP or even say POTUS) we try to force fit the diversity ratio. Note they should be inclusive to all but not force fit. That is because these positions are top .1% and hence not easily available to the masses of population of the race that is perceived to be relatively well on average (most whites don’t easily get top .1 percentile positions). They have to strive for it.
    May 25, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Znxnxjkc
    it means to me to help privileged people from an underprivileged group to take advantage from everyone else. They use tragic stories to attract support, but it is not the same people who are benefited in the policy coming out of it.

    It is like Middle East dictators showing you bombed village to turn you against US government. And you support them when they bomb another village themselves.

    political collective thinking are all false. Just like nuclear weapons. People stay with it because first they are benefitted and second others don’t want to give up their nukes. You think it is a good thing to have it, and you think others pursuing/practicing it is a crime.

    So at least, don’t pretend anyone has moral high ground especially when you use it far often than anyone else.
    May 25, 2018 0
  • Cisco FITUMI
    OP - great post. 👍🏻
    May 25, 2018 0
  • Apple Okidoki
    Hey OP, thank you for this post.
    May 25, 2018 0
  • Amazon ALme34
    Amazing!
    May 25, 2018 0

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