Corporate Culture: How should Latinos adapt?
HACR's Leadership Pipeline Program offered this talk on navigating a culture that is sometimes very different from our own.
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“Being Hispanic is often being subjected to constant dismissal. If we don't advocate for ourselves, if we don't raise our voices, no one is going to do it for us,” said Ana Salas Siegel, executive vice president and general counsel of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, the special guest at this talk entitled “Navigating Corporate Culture.”
Understanding that becoming the new member of a corporate team opens the doors to a culture that at first may seem strange to Latinos and that surely requires a special adaptation period, Salas also highlighted the importance of bringing our whole set of values to the meeting rooms.
Salas, who in her position is responsible for managing the daily operations of the legal department and supervising all legal and commercial matters that affect the group, said that she would have liked to have had organizations like the ones she currently leads when she was young, which drive women to excel and empower themselves.
Salas also strongly recommends having a professional coach and investing in ourselves to stand out professionally.
“Hiring an executive coach is important because as you advance in corporate positions you receive less feedback, which is why it is important to approach someone who helps us advance. It is by investing in ourselves and attending seminars like this, where we can create new connections, that we can continue to grow. Likewise, I recommend actively speaking with the bosses, with those who supervise your work, so that they offer constant feedback and expose the blind spots of our careers,” Salas highlighted.
Emphasizing how Latinos have to always prove their worth, especially women, Salas underscores the value of having role models, people who look like you, who show that things can be done and who show you the way.
“There are still a lot of people in corporate America who look down on diversity. In my experience, I have learned that culture is a strength and not a barrier, it gives us tools that become 'superpowers' that should be celebrated," said Salas.
Salas, like other speakers who attended this HACR event, invites Hispanic professionals to highlight their strengths and celebrate their differences.
"In other places, knowing an additional language gives you advantages, but in the United States speaking Spanish often marginalizes you, it is not something that is celebrated as it should be," noted Salas.
Likewise, Salas, who has always felt comfortable being herself in her workplace, knows that this is not the general rule, so she calls for authenticity to be strengthened and to be applauded when showing up.
"When someone is treated differently because of their origin, it is important to make it known that this is not right, in a diplomatic way so as not to be perceived as a trouble maker," Salas stated.
To conclude, Salas, who pointed out that you never stop proving yourself as a professional, highlighted the importance of knowing how to listen and accept feedback:
Feedback, even if it is difficult to hear or receive, is a gift. Many times you learn more from negative reviews than from positive ones. Receive it calmly and without overreacting, especially women, who carry that negative stigma.
Salas’ Credentials and Acknowledgments
Salas holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
She is also a member of the American Bar Association, as well as the Florida and D.C. bar associations. She also has a Certificate in International Business Management from Georgetown University, a UK Bar Certificate from the University of Oxford, and an Online Certificate in Business, International Relations and Political Economy from the London School of Economics.
She has been recognized with a 2021 OnCon Top 50 Corporate Counsel Award; named Lawyer of the Year by the Media and Entertainment Lawyers Association in 2020; Powerful and Influential Latina in Entertainment by Imagen Foundation in 2017, 2018 and 2019; Most Powerful Woman by Cablefax in 2018, 2019 and 2020; and Most Influential Minority for Cablefax in 2018, 2019 and 2020. She also received the Distinguished General Counsel Global Recognition by Directors Roundtable in 2018.