International Women’s Day — and every day — is powered by the collective efforts of all in supporting, inspiring, and empowering women worldwide. That’s why at parallel18 we strive to become allies for ourselves, our peers, and our founders. In light of #IWD2021 here’s how our team #ChooseToChallenge gender bias and inequality across our different departments to better serve our community of diverse business-people.
Eduardo Padial, Operations Director
I try to be an ally to my female coworkers just by being there to listen, making questions to further understand a perspective that I’ve probably never come across, and adapt thoughts and actions that can go a long way to progress towards an equitable community.
Johann Padilla, Operations Manager
Being an ally is recognizing that there are certain privileges established in society and we have to work together to eradicate them. My commitment is to always listen, be open to learning new perspectives, and have the necessary conversation to bridge the gap of male vs female.
Bettina Maestre, Startup Executive
Throughout my professional experience, I have seen how easy it is for women in the workplace to fall into the “I’ll stay silent so I don’t seem too emotional” to my male co-worker’s syndrome. Therefore, it has been very important to me that I have open and honest conversations with my female co-workers on how we should address our peers and male coworkers to disprove that myth.
Laura Delgado, Startup Executive
One of the ways in which I support the feminized individuals in my professional spheres is by consistently challenging my own internalized biases and inviting others to do so as well. Publicly acknowledging their achievements and great quality work goes a long way, too!
Alejandro Martínez, Operations Intern
I believe that being an ally implies understanding and being open to the point of view of others. Even though I have only been part of the P18 team for a week, in my daily activities I always try to emphasize with those around me and consider matters from their different realities, and, if I need to be educated or corrected on an issue I am more than open to receiving feedback.
Business Development Team
Cristina Tamayo, Business Development Manager
When I think of my fellow female colleagues, especially those younger than me, I want to help them feel confident and strong enough to speak up and have their voices heard. Earlier in my career, I would feel insecure about what I could bring to the table and with time I realized it was all in my head. If I would have had the courage to speak up earlier, I would have had a bigger impact. I don’t want my fellow female colleagues to do the same. I try every day to encourage them and to tell them that their opinion, input, feedback is valid and so important. It can turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. And it’s doing us, our organization, our community, fellow and younger generations a great disservice to not hear it.
Sylmarie Díaz, Business Development Associate
This question has been uncomfortable but revealing, from my point of view I am a person who will give a hand to whoever asks for it or whoever needs it. I have always seen life with simplicity despite how complex I know it is because at the end of the day I see human beings. I offer the same treatment that I receive, I request the same respect that I offer and I expect the same honesty and sincerity that I profess. But even if that is considered laudable or not, or if it makes me naive, the social reality is different.
Through this exercise, I’ve been able to understand that even as a woman and even if I have experienced certain situations based on my gender, I still have a lot to learn about this issue. I will actively work to better understand this matter, it’s never too late to learn, the inexcusable thing is to never try to find the best version of you. The one that goes beyond your individuality, the one that changes the lives of other people.
Marketing and Communications Team
Wanda Fraguada, Marketing Manager
This is something I have struggled with throughout the years. When I was growing up, feminism was more about female development in the workplace or rejecting stereotypes, but not so much about being allies and helping each other grow. As I began my professional life, I was exposed to people who led by example and educated me on how important it is to foster the ally mentality. Today, I try to show my female peers at P18 the importance of building each other up, fighting imposter syndrome, asking for help, and stop apologizing for their emotions. I’m also very vocal with our male co-workers since sometimes they can be blind to their own bias (because they are not women) and help them see how they can improve. With our founders, I always call them out when I feel their imposter syndrome is rearing its ugly head and I try to make sure that our community activities are women and family-friendly. Last, but not least, one of my main duties at parallel18 is the call for applications, so I make sure that we intentionally make calls to female founders of all experiences to know and apply to our program.
Menchu Agüeros, Outreach Manager
When it comes to my coworkers, and those that are women, I’m always ready to serve and provide help in all areas, especially in communicating. I like to be a helping hand. Be the liaison that solves all kinds of problems and doing everything in my power so that the project has a voice that can benefit others.
Natalia Cuadrado, Content Specialist
Every day I try to approach situations from an empathic standpoint and being a communicator myself, I understand how I can only do that by assessing the way I express myself. The way we speak is a construction that mirrors the world around us. Therefore, I try to pay particular attention to the adjectives I use to describe people, situations, and feelings in regards to my female peers and myself. Why? Because, as a Latina, I grew up in a conservative and patriarchal society that still praises men for what they do not condone in women. Thankfully, through introspection, social media, and the right education, I’ve deconstructed the sexist notions society taught us by default. Notions that, to this day, I still have to challenge in my head as I come to terms with womanhood and alliance in the workplace and in my everyday life. For me, it all starts with the way I speak about myself, as a woman, and how I communicate with and speak about my female coworkers, whom I admire and respect.
Samuel Betancourt, Lead Creative Designer
I’ve listened to their struggles and have tried my best to understand their point of view and put myself in their shoes. I’m an ally by respecting them for who they are and not by how they look. By minimizing the importance of gender when it comes to quality performance and if need be, reminding them of so because after all, amazing work has no gender. Has this team not been proof enough of that?
Valerie Ulanga, Community Coordinator
At the beginning of my journey in parallel18, I had a serious situation with a male postage carrier. At first, I was shocked and didn’t tell my supervisor because I thought no one would believe me, but I was wrong. Since the start, my supervisor and co-workers were very supportive. Having that strong network (at first it was all female) was essential for me during a vulnerable time.
I’ll be forever grateful to be surrounded by such amazing and powerful female peers. I think if I didn’t have that “safety net” I wouldn’t be able to open up about what happened. Sadly, we’re still living situations that only happen to women because others perceive us as weak sexual objects that are not smart or brave enough to voice our concerns. I’m grateful that within this organization that has NEVER been an issue.
Lucas Arzola, Managing Partner
Historically venture capital has had low participation from underrepresented groups including women, both among investors and entrepreneurs funded. I have been an ally by promoting minority and gender inclusion in everything we do regarding investment, from our own hiring practices to our strategy for building a portfolio of companies through our P18Ventures investment funds. Half of the world is female, it only makes sense that we eventually live in a world where good business ideas and investment dollars are equally represented.
Hector Jirau, Investment Fund Manager
Considering the socioeconomic implications and the privileged society as imposed on us, men, it is imperative that we work together to advance gender equality, supporting our peers, and position ourselves under the same norms, so that every day we may find ourselves a step closer to fill the gap inequality.
Adriana Pérez, Investment Analyst
Through my day-to-day, I’m an ally by actively and thoughtfully connecting with women in other industries to learn and grow from each other’s experiences.
Celebrating #IWD2021 is a start, but there’s much work to get done. As we commit to being a program where underrepresented entrepreneurs, including female founders, can find a space to scale and strengthen their innovations, we also commit to having important conversations on gender and inclusion within our team. That’s one of the many ways we hope to move forward in creating a diverse and inclusive business community in Puerto Rico and beyond. How do you, #ChooseToChallenge today?