When you’re depriving someone of management and executive level positions purely because of their race or because of how they identify or because of their skin color, you’re denying them generational wealth. You’re denying them being able to care for their children and grandchildren. You’re denying them being able to take care of themselves as they age and being vulnerable in your seventies and eighties is really frightening.
I am Consuelo Crosby – born with both sides of my brain fighting for attention.. structural engineer & creative, mother & mentor, center of any spontaneous fiesta if I’ve had my morning latte… I give it all to being a 1st generation Peruvian badass chica!
So grateful you’re here today, wanting to shed that armor, relax into your truth, your value… pick up your salsa step, tune out what’s getting to you and be lifted from goddesses in generations past that taught us to live life large and out loud… cuz we’re not blending in…
LIFE LNXX… knowledge you didn’t even know you had TO BE THE BADASS CHICA YOU WERE BORN TO BE!
I really love and appreciate being here each week with you. It definitely feels like I have a standing weekly date with a fun and intelligent crowd of game changers. It’d be so much more fun, face to face. I’d love to see you out in a crowd. Especially since we have a worldwide audience! Shout out to all the continents. So appreciate you joining in and making this planet more connected.
We’re going to be diving into the workplace today because this was a hot topic in the discussions from last week. But first, I want to remind you about signing up for the newsletter on our website at lifelnxx.com – that’s LN Double X – because this next one I will be sending you from San Miguel de Allende in Mexico! We’re gonna give you some pictures of what it looks like, some in-person experience being there. And if you are wondering where that is, then all the more reason to sign up and getting as close as you can to being there until you feel safe to add traveling back to your routine again.
So, take a look. Sign up.
HOME OFFICE EXPERIENCE
But, let’s get back to the workplace now and it’s really powerful to have this open discussion on how you would design the workplace around your own wants and needs. Granted, the conditions right now are a little unknown, very vague, but perhaps this disruption is just what is needed to reframe a system that was never designed for women from the beginning.
I would guess, just a far fetch, that no one replicated their office experience at home when the shut down happened. You actually got the benefit of a solo office, granted it might’ve been the end of your bed or your closet or the kitchen table, but the solo office was something of a norm for every professional in the past.
You filled it with the things that made you more comfortable and happy, like plants and breaks away from the monitor. I’m guessing there weren’t too many video games or bathrooms that were so far away that you just pray you make it on time as you try to casually run.
I’m sure many of your home offices are epic and inspiring and so are your routines you developed during the day. There would be such a diversity of what your spaces at work would look like if you brought all these ideas back. Even the naps. That was actually a thing in the nineties. Companies realized you needed a power nap and they actually even brought in masseuses that would give neck rubs to help you out during the day. Again, early tech days.
Besides the sweat pants and standing screens, what did you realize was missing at your corporate workplace now that you have developed your own? And what would you introduce?
Would there be quiet areas with a natural light to ease your mind and make you feel like you belong? You might have bright, bold colors that represent the world in art or textiles and music, too, not just on your earphones, but out in public space . I would love to post some pics of your home offices, things that you feel would be great to introduce back into the workplace.
Now for those of you who had the ability to go someplace and work virtually and you have these epic views, that might be a little difficult to swallow right now. But, it’s still lovely. Still want to hear it, still want to see it.
DIVERSITY IN THE OFFICE
Since you’ve included so much of the world in your new home offices, whether it was from the decor or the music, or literally where you are working from right now, how about having a more diverse and inclusive office literal office that would help create an environment that doesn’t feel or act like the one that you left behind and might be returning back to?
If we recognize that the beauty of the world isn’t just for our entertainment, not just for our music, not just for sports, we should expect the same influx of the world at work, as our peers. One that looks like the city streets we walk on or the beaches and parks we gather in. One that isn’t overrun with homogeny so that when a woman or LatinX, it should be LatínX, or Black professional walks in, the crowd doesn’t wonder what they are doing there or worse, assume they are there to assist them. Each time that happens, it takes our energy to recover from the audacity of the act, or even the look, even if we don’t take it personally. It does get In our heads for a moment and that needs more energy to get it out. That’s wasted energy that we could be using for creating something else.
My industry of structural engineering is still old school, still brick and mortar like the other pre-digital era professions and clients expect to see us, literally. We still compete for projects in teams and eventually, in person. But, the modern companies, the digital based companies, they are hiding in plain site. Just like the products they make, whether it’s B2B platforms, or social media, or consumer sites. You really don’t know who is working at the company, if the company looks like the public spaces here with diversity, what the company stands for and what information they are taking from you. It’s just like social media, it’s really easy to say anything behind a screen but saying it face to face takes commitment.
I would love to meet some of these people with snarky remarks just to give them a once-over. Let’s make that all real.
Companies have claimed they are “trying” to hire but that the pipeline isn’t filled with people of color or Black professionals. This statement may have been the problem 20 years ago, but a lot has been done to increase exposure of the STEM fields to overlooked communities and so naturally there is a boom in potential, potential professional hires. Think about this in depth for a sec because this is a very important role you have to fill aside from your professional expertise, do your companies look like your local community and if your local community doesn’t look diverse then that speaks to a whole other issue.
LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERSHIP
Much has changed but a lot has stayed the same and the persistent call for transparency in companies will be the standing order but we know this isn’t enough because like the screen, it allows the companies to hide in plain site. Companies like Microsoft have begun filing reports on their Diversity and Inclusion as a form of transparency and claims for improvements. In this year’s report, Microsoft stated that out of their 103,000 employees, less then 3% of manager and executive levels were Black. Less than 3%.
So for every 35 people, there is one Black person in leadership. I know this ratio. I spoke about it in Episode 2, Shred your Self Doubt. This ratio doesn’t ever let you feel like you are in charge or that you are in a leadership position because the other 34 people are wondering how you got your position, what did you do to get ahead, it couldn’t be because of your intelligence and hard work, it must be because you – Fill in the blank here.
If the leadership positions are only for the Diversity and Inclusion Branch of the company, then there is a whole lot of “You just don’t get it” going on here.
IF YOU HAVEN’T CHANGED, NEITHER WILL THE WORKPLACE
The thing is, it isn’t necessarily up to just the companies to effectively retain a full representation of society. Their part is to hire a cross section of humanity, but it is up to us to further engage each other at work and create a welcoming environment that benefits each of us at a common level. Creating an inclusive atmosphere at work and in life takes each of us to step up and step out of our comfort zones.
Yep, time to leave your comfort zone, your cocoon, your little fishbowl, your pedestal, and try joining a group where you’re the weakest link one, where you rely on others to teach you what to do, and sometimes be totally left alone to figure it out on your own. It’s time to walk into that wilderness to realize just how big it is and how little you really are and just how little you are in charge of it all.
Am I giving you a panic attack?
It actually works both ways when you realize the world is so large and you are so small. It’s a good assessment of how much you try to control your life because instead of feeling panicky and anxious about, “oh my gosh, I can not control this huge big wilderness”; you could be thinking, “Oh wow. The world is huge. The wilderness is intense and I’m just this little speck of a person, a little piece of dust”. So whatever problems that you have in this little piece of dust, they are that much smaller compared to the opportunities of this whole big wide wilderness, but still that doesn’t negate the fact that you feel like a speck of dust in this huge, crazy wilderness.
But still, time to leave your comfort zone. These comfort zones we developed in our early life experiences. Most of us have not stopped and reevaluated our trajectory of who we befriended and why. And I get it, the first 30 some years of your life are just fricking ridiculous. You spend 21 years on this huge learning curve in order to launch away from you parents. Some of you wanted to get away from your parents a lot sooner. But you are also trying to figure out just who you are and what you stand for. You get your feeling hurt, your heart hurt… there are disappointments and wins, fails and redirects. Maybe you had friends to lean on and maybe you didn’t, you may have felt all alone with these feelings. Maybe they healed and maybe they just got buried.
Then, after all that, you’re thrown into the free fall of adulting, where the organizations you join expect you to know everything because they don’t have the time to teach you or mentor you. This includes everything from finding your first job, to paying bills, getting a more of transportation. And some of us have a lot of help doing this, everything from advice to financial assistance but a lot of us have been on our own since we were 17 or younger, not from being alone as in no family, but having no one to lean on who has past experience. It’s the disruption in the life link.
And it goes on from here, right, it doesn’t get easier. Now you are heads down focused on learning your professional industry and if anything, actually pulling away from your friends of at least 15 years because you beginning to have less in common as you enter your actual adult life. Perhaps you have to travel a lot for work, or families were started, or many have moved to a distant location.
But this change is actually a good thing! This is when you have time to re-evaluate your trajectory and what you want for the next 20 years and with this can be the expansion of your curiosity, your interests and from that will come an expansion of your friend circles that probably won’t look the same as the one you are leaving behind. Not because you are determined to add diversity into our life, but because you have matured, come into yourself and value all the differences the world has to offer rather than be uncertain about it. The idea of experiencing life from a different view makes you excited even if you go through an awkward unknown before it is part of your comfort zone again.
Even at 30, we are growing out of adolescence and developing our mature self. This is where maturity comes into play as we shed our skin that we have outgrown and plan a larger more diverse experience and begin a new learning curve of what life feels like when you are not the majority. This is where each of us comes into play to nurture a diverse workplace with kindness and empathy; not in the “mansplaining” technique of showing how it’s done but in respect of expertise and intelligence that is in everyone. We can have immediate impact on change in the workplace by introducing change within ourselves to embrace the unknown and learn from each other.
BEING ONE OF FEW IN THE OFFICE
For a lot of us though, the comfort zone never comes in our workplaces, or industries. We have a lot to be grateful for the women held their ground, their picnic blanket, when entering male dominated fields in the past. They persevered in a really harsh environment while still encouraging other women to join in, which in turn has invited a more diverse population.
Still, it is exhausting to maintain your true self in a population that outnumbers you 95 to 1. That’s the numbers we are talking about here. Everything is different at that point.
The pure lack of numbers is most defeating though because it couples with the tendency of society to lack empathy. If people in general are not concerned or compassionate for the plight of others, then we rely only on our similar community for understanding. But then, if we are at work for half of our waking hours and have none of our community with us we may become a zombie to get through the day without any emotional support. Well, then work becomes an intellectual task rather than a human experience. And, if only the brain is making decisions at work, then there is no heart involved and therefore, no empathy. Then we are creating product that purely is for profit because it’s only coming from the brain rather than with empathy to take care of people as a whole.
This spills out of our workplace and into our family and friend circles, too, which is often the very people we rely on for support. This is the double-edged sword of being one of the only few in a profession and enduring all the challenges only to go home or out with your friends and have them just give you this blank stare when you try to offload your day. If you are one of the few, then it’s really hard to find others who can sympathize with you at work and then it’s equally difficult to find an empathetic person outside of work who can understand the challenges you’re going through, intellectually and emotionally at work.
I wish there were more women in our structural engineering field or even construction industry as a whole so that we could gather with this camaraderie for understanding and support. It was really difficult for us women in the 80’s to persevere in the male dominated professions we entered. The fact that we were hired to begin with should have been proof of our value and intelligence. Instead, it was an anomaly and only the beginning of the hazing that would take place to see if we had what it took.
Now, I say “we” not because there were more than one of us in any one field, but “we” as in one in engineering, one in law, one in medicine and then, yeah, one in tech.
I do have a ton of stories about fending for myself both in the office and on the construction site. And just like a lot of women, my age, the things we experienced in the eighties are really coming to light now for no other reason than they need to be told. But now is the first time that there have been enough women and people of color to hear it and to hold it and to say, “yes, this happened, we hear you. We’re experiencing it still. What do we do about it?”
Because for as much as we want you to know, we didn’t want you to be afraid. We needed you to keep coming forward, to keep entering these industries without the fear that they were as bad as they were. We needed your help and in turn, we want to help improve this still.
You’re going to hear one of the worst ones I went through in the next episode, because it really highlights the fact that there were no cell phones, no PCs. Sexual harassment, wasn’t even illegal then. There were no HR departments in the engineering companies. There was absolutely no one to turn to when things went sideways, not even another woman in your office that you could confide in.
I remained the only woman and there weren’t any others to mentor within the industry so I reached back down to the universities and high schools to introduce our field so more women might be inclined to join in.
DIVERSITY IS STILL TENUOUS
This is why trying to increase women, Black, Brown and Indigenous professionals in our modern companies is so tenuous and also why Black and LatinX leadership in companies remains at 3%. We are only now trying to influence business organizations that are considered “modern” and yet are already 50 years old, like Microsoft and Apple. Can you believe that? 50 years old. Current day companies, even more modern companies, like Google and Facebook are already 20 years old.
So, even though there is this planned effort to increase employee diversity, is there planned effort in diverse retention and mentoring so that the employees thrive and move into leadership positions, not just within their own target group but in the company as a whole? Because we know that the world still struggles by qualifying the success of women, blacks and people of color. We know, especially after the Olympics, where international women excelled, there were still a lot of tirades about how it wasn’t done right or good enough. The eternal Peanut Gallery is still out there and it takes a really deep buffer of supportive people to keep that chatter out of the minds of the badass chicas.
So, as we try to figure out returning to the office, take a moment to think beyond your immediate expectations. Take a look around your physical space and your virtual space to see if your cohorts have returned in full and assess just how much diversity exists now. We know the pandemic took 56% of women out of the workforce. Many professional women had to sacrifice their careers so that they could care for their children, which makes you realize that nothing has really changed from the Good Ole Boys Club. Black and LatinX populations were hit hardest during the pandemic, from mortality and illness to job loss and assistance with family care. And if you don’t think that refers to your office peers, then you are forgetting how linked we are generation to generation.
What will be your part to increase the diversity at your office now that you are expanding your mindset as your mature self? Where can you start up conversation about what you do and get others interested a career move? Any moment we are out in public should be a chance to engage with someone and learn more about their life experience and how we can help each other get a strong grip on our own dream climb.
LEADERSHIP POSITIONS CREATE GENERATIONAL WEALTH
Take the time to engage with others and share your wants and needs and your connections. Remember the diversity expansion and support at the workplace isn’t about checking boxes and hitting percentages and saying, “yay, we’re done”. Look what we did. I mean, it’s a great starting point. Absolutely. But it should have always been there to begin with.
Let’s not forget that, because when you’re depriving someone of management and executive level positions, purely because of their race or because of how they identify or because of their fricking skin color, you’re denying them generational wealth. You’re denying them being able to care for their children and grandchildren. You’re denying them being able to take care of themselves as they age and being vulnerable in your seventies and eighties is really frightening.
You are not here, just living in the moment you are living for generations to come because you come from generations and even the smallest act could prove to be the game changer for someone in their entire legacy. This is how much impact you can have on the world. You as the individual, not in solving problems, but in purely opening yourself up and realizing people beyond your own expectations.
You can tell people, “Hey, I know somebody”. “Hey, I have somebody who can do that for you”. “Hey, I can watch your child. You go take a break”. “Hey, I have no idea what engineering’s all about because I knew I couldn’t handle it, but why don’t you try and explain it to me now, because I’m a lot more mature and I can get it”.
Now, any of those little things are enough to get to the person who just needs to feel understood and that somebody cares. That is so much power to hold within one person. Let it out, ladies. Let that out.
Come on ladies, step up, step out. It’s time to change the world. One office at a time, starting with that epic home office, you know what to do.
I really appreciate the time you take to rate and review the podcast. Get the backstory and what you’ve heard here today, and reach out to us at TheLnxx.com. That’s L N double X, because it’s about time, it’’s about us. Stay in the groove on our social media @LifeLinks and get ready to make your move, ladies.