HR Goal: Becoming a Published Author
The month of October marks a great accomplishment: the launch of a new book "Latinas Rising Up in HR" by Priscilla Guasso. This book is a collection of twenty stories of inspirational HR professional Latina women who share the challenges and obstacles they overcame to succeed in their roles in the Human Resources field. The stories shine light to the question of “Why aren’t there more Latinas in executive leadership?”. If the objective or the title of the book doesn't get you excited, check out the recording of our Virtual Book Launch from October 17th (pssst: my section starts at 23:40) for inspiration:
Why is this book important to me? Because I am one of the lucky twenty women included in this anthology, officially making me a published co-author!
Someone asked what drove me to consider writing a story for a book publication, and as innocent as that question is, it was the same one I asked myself at the beginning when this project started. When I got my foot in the door, it felt lonely sharing my experiences navigating the HR world due to confidentiality reasons as well as a lack of representation in the management roles I looked up to. I constantly battle the voice in my head that tells me I'm not qualified to share an opinion, to offer advice, or to submit my story for consideration for a book. It has taken years to ignore that self-doubt, to not let Imposter Syndrome get the best of my fears, and to challenge myself in new opportunities. So when I came across a post on The Latinista social page that requested submissions from HR professional Latina women who would be interested in sharing their story in a book, I submitted my entry with the intention of facing a fear, not thinking I would be one of the lucky few who was selected.
Let me tell you something about facing fears: it's not the act that scares us, rather the potential negative effects of the action. In this mindset it is difficult to find the positive impacts of an opportunity. When I received the email in April 2020 (during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic) telling me I was selected to be a contributing author, I froze about the potential impact this opportunity could have on me. Who would want to read my story, what could someone possibly take away from it? What if I discover I'm not as talented as I think I am? I reflected on the worst "what if's" before I could say yes to the opportunity.
One morning I opened my annual planner to the "intentions" page I completed at the beginning of the year, and read the third goal I set for myself: Start my HR blog.
It's then that it all connected. This book opportunity would not only help me overcome the fear of writing, it would also help me define who I was writing for. I replied to the email accepting the invite to the virtual meeting that would introduce me to the other nineteen authors who had accepted their invitations. Little did I know a new community would open up to me, the tribe I've been searching for, all during the pandemic!
Writing a chapter for a book required me to reflect on pivotal memories that led me to the path I am on and to address the challenges I face today. The biggest challenge I've had to maneuver is defining the boundaries between the personal and the professional. Many of the seasoned HR leaders I've interacted with have warned me to not share my personal life in the workplace setting, that as HR professionals we are not there to make friends. I understand where that concern comes from, the need to appear professional and neutral at all times. But HR professionals are human. We are a crucial investment within the organization to strategize how to effectively prepare, develop, and lead our employees. How can someone with this level of responsibility be expected to maintain trusting relationships with employees if they can't share their personal identity in the workplace?
HR leaders have to navigate creative ways to motivate and inspire other managers, supervisors, and team members, but change can only come when trust has been established in these settings. How do you build trust? It starts when you acknowledge an employee by their name, by taking time to chat with them casually (not always about work), to congratulate them on their small wins, and establishing boundaries in your communication. This can take months, even years to establish, it doesn't happen in one week. These actions help break the stereotype that HR is not an approachable department, that they're only there to deliver the bad news. Creating trusting relationships helps others truly see you as a resource instead of an informational center about policies.
Participating in this book helped me understand that the challenges I've faced are not a one-off instance. They are happening at all levels of an organization, even amongst other Latina HR professionals. Finding a safe space to address our challenges as women leaders is essential to survive and thrive in the workplace. With out knowing I needed this niche of a community, I now have a support group of Latina HR women who cheer me on when I share my highlights, who invite me to the (virtual) space we need to talk about our frustrations, and who are encouraging me to continue on this path of HR leadership by sharing their experiences, which you can read more about in the book.
If you are an aspiring or experienced HR professional, an ally to uplifting women leadership, or know of a young woman of color who is looking for a direction on her career path, connect them to the Latinas Rising Up In HR community in social media, and purchase a copy of the book from the website. A portion of the book sales go towards funding two scholarships to support a Latina Student & Latina Rising Professional (more details to follow in the coming months). I am also here as a resource, I'm just an email away.
The HR Anthropologist