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Equality

Advocating for Latinx Talent in the Workplace

During National Hispanic Heritage Month — and every month — take the time to recognize our community, our history, and the work that still needs to be done to reach true equality.

four colleagues seated next to each other, looking towards the left: latinx in tech
[Office of Equality/Salesforce]

Throughout my career, I have often been either the only or one of few — whether as a woman or Latina — especially on executive teams. At the same time, I’ve also had incredible sponsors and mentors who have supported my career. This is why I’m dedicated to using my voice and platform to create access, change the experience, and design systems for those who historically haven’t been in the room.

During National Hispanic Heritage Month — and every month — we are intentional about taking the time to recognize our community, our history, and the work that still needs to be done to reach true equality. Personally, I use this time to remember and honor Latinx heroes who have inspired me — like civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and so many others.

On October 21, we also recognize Latina Equal Pay Day which signifies the average day when Latina pay catches up to that of white, non-Hispanic men from the previous year. This is an important time for us as leaders and companies to recommit to the work needed to drive change. This means reimagining our systems, elevating underheard voices, and building a true culture of belonging.

Let’s continue to celebrate the Latinx talent that is all around us and be intentional about advocating for Latinx employees in the workplace. Here are three ways we can all do this in our companies:

1. Create access with mentorship and sponsorship

I believe when you get to the top, you leave the ladder down for other people to follow you. That’s what was done for me, and it has played a huge role in the path I’ve taken and the successes I’ve had. Keeping that in mind, I not only leave the ladder down, I’m fully prepared to pull people up the ladder with me.

It’s important to understand the difference between the mentor and the sponsor. The mentor is going to talk with you, but the sponsor is going to talk about you. The sponsor is somebody that’s willing to put their badge on the table to say ‘she should be promoted.’

Guillermo Diaz, Jr., CEO of Kloudspot

Mentorship and sponsorship have been pivotal from day one of my first job. Having people who were more senior than me, invest in me and provide feedback along the way has been such an important part of my growth and development. Mentors guide you, but sponsors actually put their own reputation on the line to connect you to opportunity.

At our 2019 Racial Equality summit, Representation Matters, Guillermo Diaz, Jr., who is now CEO at Kloudspot, said, “It’s important to understand the difference between the mentor and the sponsor. The mentor is going to talk with you, but the sponsor is going to talk about you. The sponsor is somebody that’s willing to put their badge on the table to say ‘she should be promoted.’” I couldn’t agree more.

2. Remember, representation matters

In July, at our annual Racial Equality Summit, I had the opportunity to speak with Grammy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Anthony Ramos. During that conversation, he said, “What if all lines of work resembled what the world looks like?”

We all have a responsibility to ensure our companies reflect the world around us at every level. Part of this is ensuring our hiring processes are inclusive and widen access for everyone. For example, at Salesforce we shifted our mindset and behaviors by implementing bias training for all recruiters and interviewers, launching a diversity recruiting team, and creating more equity in our referral process. We are already seeing the impact on our hiring and representation of Latinx talent. There is still a lot of work to be done, industry-wide and here. But the first step is having these conversations and making plans for change.

Having a diverse representation of the communities you’re a part of will result in diverse perspectives, so listening to and amplifying the voices of Latinx employees in the workplace is vital. And, the world is changing — in America and abroad. It’s important we continue to reflect on our customers, partners, and the world around us.

3. Create an inclusive workplace

According to a study by Coqual, more than 76% of Latinx talent repress parts of their personas in the workplace. While we focus on hiring underrepresented talent, we also have to focus on experience. In an effort to show up for employees in and out of the workplace, we created a Racial Equality and Justice Taskforce, where we focus on uplifting our underrepresented communities through four pillars —  purchasing, policy, philanthropy, and people. As part of our people pillar, we launched new initiatives including the Warmline — an employee advocacy program to support and empower Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and women employees. We also announced training for our most senior leads to help understand and interrupt microaggressions in the workplace.

Addressing pay equality is another important part of building an inclusive workplace. As we approach Latina Equal Pay Day, we recognize that while we know the gender pay gap persists — it is even more severe for women of color. That’s why, throughout the year, we also raise awareness around Black Women’s Equal Pay Day in August and Native Women’s Equal Pay Day in September, in addition to Equal Pay Day in April. At Salesforce, we have invested over $16 million toward closing the gap and we assess by both race and gender. Learn more about our process and how we have deepened our commitment to pay fairness.

Advocating for the Latinx community doesn’t stop at the workplace. If you have a Latinx employee resource group, this is a great way to learn about issues impacting the community and ways to get involved. You can also advocate for policies that advance the community and support Latinx businesses. Our community is here and we are building the future.

Watch this video from our annual Racial Equality Summit Representation Matters.


Lori Castillo Martinez is senior vice president, Global Employee Relations & Equality at Salesforce. She is a results-driven and experienced leader with proven success in spearheading transformative, data-driven enterprise-wide strategies and initiatives. Lori has made a tangible difference in the culture in her roles at Salesforce, McKesson, as well as in prior roles in the tech sector (VeriSign, VMware, and Intel).

More by Lori

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