FA2021 Individual Blog

Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

By: Ximena Castillo

I knew that I was going to learn a lot as part of the T&M Seminar class but I didn’t realize the amount and breadth of topics I would learn about. As a technology and management seminar, I was excited to see the type of presentations that companies would deliver and I can easily say that I was not disappointed. Some companies took this time to explain more about what they do, others dove into their sustainability efforts, and a few went into detail on niche products; I learned something new from every presentation. However, I was happily surprised when a presentation focused on diversity and inclusion. As a double-minority myself, a Hispanic woman in STEM, I really appreciated that this topic was considered important enough to be highlighted.

Personally, I feel privileged to not have grown up really understanding what it meant to be a minority. Since my neighborhood and elementary/middle schools were in a primarily Hispanic community, I really didn’t feel like a minority at the time. However, when we moved and I began to attend a primarily white high school, and now university as well, I began to recognize how being a double-minority in STEM affects myself and others around me. Recognizing this is what helps me when I struggle with imposter syndrome, because it serves as the necessary reminder that yes, I do deserve and am worthy of the seat at the table, despite the fact that many people at the table look, and even think, very differently from me. It is because I hate feeling this way that I am very passionate about diversity and inclusion—making sure everyone’s voice is heard and considered. It is why I joined the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) here on campus as well as why I specifically applied for the Coaching Lead role; I want to make sure that others in my shoes have someone that will remind them not to give up, that they deserve to be where they are. I accepted an internship with Caterpillar for the summer after my freshman year and sadly, I still sometimes wonder “Am I good enough for this role? Why did they choose me?”, and that’s when I have to remind myself that I put in the hard work to earn this job. I don’t want these feelings of doubt and frustration to continue and an important step forward are all the diversity and inclusion efforts/policies put in place in the corporate world.

It truly was inspiring to hear from Synchrony’s panel and the great way that their company culture portrayed their diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion is necessary everywhere but it is so important especially within technology and management and I think their presentation did a great job conveying that. Many of the panelists shared how different their paths were from what is considered the “norm” and how that was perfectly okay. They expressed gratitude for mentors and the importance of networking. But what I found most empowering was their continued message of believing in yourself and going for your dreams, not letting imposter syndrome get the better of you. Society needs to embrace diversity because without new perspectives there is no innovation. When companies acknowledge and take into account different voices they ensure that their product can be useful to more demographics, which is a win-win for everyone in the end. I like to believe that most people are not exclusive on purpose, but that sometimes it is hard to remember that not everyone has had your same experiences so it is important to keep an open mind and actively try to think of how to make ideas and products more inclusive. This is how we evolve and better innovate. This is the future that technology and management must take in order to positively impact society and help everyone.

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