WOCA 2023: Ensuring No Woman of Color Is Left Behind

For many women of color, multiple levels of intersectionality impact their experiences in the workplace. During Fair360’s 2023 Women of Color and Their Allies (WOCA) event held on September 21, panelists discussed how organizations can support a variety of identities and ensure support for women of color.  

Working Against Biases

Fostering inclusion and belonging is crucial for a woman of color to thrive. As a female from South America, Eliana Nunez, VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at The Cigna Group (No. 14 on the Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), experienced firsthand how biases can impact one’s success. 

“Early in my career, I realized that being a foreigner brought with it biases in the workplace. Those biases actually created situations where I felt isolated, devalued. There were comments made,” Nunez said. “My passion has always come through as who I’ve been. And that passion also started becoming a derailer.” 

Nunez presented the steps she takes when she feels her career is derailing. First, pause and reflect on the situation at hand. Then, assess what happened and the options to move forward. Third, develop an action plan, then consult a trusted advisor. Lastly, leverage every available resource to reach success.

Developing Supportive Networks for Women of Color

Male allies also play a crucial role in supporting women of color. Francisco Martinez-Garcia, Chief Inclusion Officer at Moody’s Corporation (No. 21 on the Top 50 Companies for Diversity) list, said opportunities must be given to individuals that might not be presented naturally.  

“The important part is it doesn’t matter where you sit in the organization. You always have a voice,” he said. “You just need to make sure that you’re aware that you have that voice and that you use it.”  

Steve Wallish, Assistant Vice President of Advanced Analytics at AT&T (a Hall of Fame company), also discussed the company’s talent strategy. 

“It was very focused on networking; it was very focused on a diverse cohort of employees. So you could actually understand some people’s stories and hear from them but also focus on real company problems,” Wallish said. “Rather than focus on development, it was more of, let’s create a network, let’s create relationships, let’s create understanding.” 

Nunez said there’s much work to be done, and sustainable systemic change has yet to happen. She reminded attendees to own their careers.

“You can still thrive even with all these barriers and challenges,” she said. “You have to create your path forward and make sure you are not left behind.” 

Watch all our 2023 Women of Color and Their Allies event sessions here