On May 30th the United Latinx Fund got a jumpstart on pride month with Orgullo 2018: Leadership, Inclusion, Advancement—the latest installment of its signature Salón Series. Held at Casa 0101 in the Boyle Heights, the evening focused on the future of jobs in LA and featured a panel discussion that was moderated by Vivian Romero, the first LGBTQ mayor and councilwoman of the city of Montebello. On the panel were five influential business leaders: Javier Angulo, Senior Director of Community Relations for Walmart; Nancy Mejia, a writer for Vida, a Starz network drama set in Boyle Heights; Tony Moraga, who oversees social impact programs for BBVA, a multinational banking group; Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of TransLatin@ Coalition, a national advocacy group; and Ana Sheila Victorino, a project manager and entrepreneur in the tech sector.
Using their own backgrounds and experiences as examples, the panelists talked about breaking into corporate America, making a mark in their industries, and the need to join forces to celebrate and uplift the Latinx community.
“The goal is for us to come together through our shared strengths, not our shared oppressions,” said Moraga, who previously ran San Franciso’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce and described his job at BBVA as an intersection of entrepreneurship and community.
Mejia, who talked about the dearth of Latinx mentors in Hollywood, said that a personal goal is to see greater representation across the industry. “I no longer want to create characters who are struggling with their identity,” she said, defining success as “when we can see ourselves in different genres, not just the immigrant stories.”
Victorino discussed some of the paradoxes of the tech industry, which she described as boasting progressive work places where people are encouraged to be themselves and dress as they want to, but where diversity is still woefully lacking. “It continues to be a mostly male, mostly straight, mostly white or Asian industry. For example at Symantec where I was a project manager I believe in my office of over 800 I might have been the only Latina and the only queer woman that had any technical role.”
Angulo stressed that for companies like Walmart, improving diversity and investing in their workforce are keys to continued success: “We’re spending a lot of resources to make sure even the entry level retail workers are able to keep pace with technology. In the past two years alone we’ve invested 2.7 billion dollars in academies, in virtual reality education, but also in higher wages and benefits because we need to be competitive.”
Salcedo pointed out that the trans community is the most marginalized in the corporate world. “It’s also important that we recognize when we talk about LGBTQ communities often trans people are not included,” she said. “The T really is not part of that. Companies who do have power can do better in terms of hiring people.” Salcedo pointed to the 2016 United States Transgender Survey, which showed that trans people are among the poorest in our society because companies are reluctant to hire them. “Trans people in comparison to the gay and lesbian community, we are about 40 years behind, legislatively, academically, economically, you name it. If we are going to be inclusive when we say LGBTQ, we need to hold those companies accountable.”
The evening was also a networking mixer and a fundraiser for the United Latinx Fund. Interim Executive Director Richard Corral said the event served ULF’s goal of providing much needed spaces for Latinx: “We wanted to use the organization as a platform to uplift the community, and to connect our leadership with the community, which we are doing today with all of you, so that you can learn and benefit from each other’s knowledge, and to begin to network, connect, and build relationships to further benefit our community.”
To see the full panel discussion including the compelling personal stories of the panelists as well as their views on a variety of other issues, visit the United Latinx Fund facebook page.