If you ask for advice about how to get a job at Google, taking an improv class is probably not something you’d expect to hear.
Yet, Monica Silva Gutierrez, Senior Program Manager at Google, found that improv not only helped transform her into the effective leader she is today but also empowered her to ditch the mentality of what she calls, “second class citizen” syndrome.
“Taking feedback is not easy for a person of color. When I used to get constructive feedback at work, this ‘second class citizen’ syndrome would creep into my mind, telling me I’m not good enough and I’m never going to get a seat at the table,” she shares.
For Monica, the principles of improv helped her to take feedback and run with it, rather than taking it personally.
“Improvisation really helped me learn how to integrate professional feedback and innovate on it, which is very much a part of the culture at Google,” she says.
We sat down with Monica to find out more about how her varied experiences influenced her career trajectory and her journey toward embracing her heritage in her professional life, and the advice she has for other Latinas to find their footing in the tech world.
From Texas Border Town to Change Management Powerhouse
Monica grew up in a border town in Texas and felt the pressure early on to assimilate to American culture for the sake of her success. She had taken the last name of her non-Latinx stepfather, and she has a white-passing appearance, which made assimilating easier.
“I was never really in touch with my ‘latinidad' as we call it because I was always trying to fit in. I have white-presenting features, so I could pretend,” she reflects.
She went on to study political science at St. Mary’s University, a Hispanic-serving school. Being around thousands of young adults just like her opened the door to her Latina identity a little wider.
“I'm glad I went there and had that experience, to be surrounded by people who looked like me and came from similar places,” she says.
After graduation, Monica’s career took her through some pretty interesting — and diverse — experiences. She worked as a Political Assistant on the Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign, at the White House in the Department of Energy, as Director of Events at a meditation ashram (where she learned about improv), and as an executive in the nonprofit sector for democracy and social justice reform organizations.
The common thread throughout these experiences has been Monica’s aptitude for taking a practical approach to managing change.
“Throughout my career, I’ve built teams, grown them to scale, and helped them pivot and change,” she explains.
The Value of Sponsorship
While working in the nonprofit sector, Monica struck up a friendship with a tech founder through her meditation community. This person became an invaluable sponsor who opened doors for her to work at the intersection of nonprofit and tech.
“He took an interest in me and my career, and had access to opportunity, which I didn't have,” she says.
When her sponsor was working as a VP at Google, he tapped her for a Chief of Staff position. Google was focused on building an inclusive culture where everyone belongs, and he was certain that Monica was the best person to navigate these changes. She wasn’t so sure.
She remembers thinking: “I'm not a typical hire. I don't have a CS background. Also, I'm more of a generalist, and Google tends to hire people who are specialists and experts.”
However, after studying up on Google culture and preparing for her interviews with the help of a recruiter and career coach, she got the job. She then spent years successfully guiding the company through a major pivot, utilizing and building on her existing skills to help organizations transform from the inside out.
Hard Conversations, Reclaiming Identity
Monica is proud to work at a place that isn’t afraid to have hard conversations and to act on the conclusions of those conversations.
“Google is on the right side of some really tough values conversations that corporate America is going through. It's curious, and it wants to find ways to solve problems with compassion. Compassion is in Google’s DNA,” she shares.
Having these hard conversations with compassion provided the space for Monica to explore her identity more. Finally, the door to her latinidad was fully opened and she now feels that she has reclaimed her Latina identity.
“There were two versions of me: one at work and one at home,” she remembers. “But Google is a place where I could explore myself more, and I've been given permission to be me. Because Google is willing to have those tough conversations, I was inspired to publicly ‘come out’ as Latina.”
Part of that coming out was changing her married name to a combination of her mother’s and grandmother’s maiden names to honor the Latina matriarchs of her family.
She has also prioritized building community as the co-founder of the employee resource group (ERG) Latinas@Google, as well as uplifting Latina talent whenever she can — she learned through experience the impact a sponsor can have, and it’s a lesson she’s never forgotten.
“Someone else took a chance on me, and I want to do the same for others. I see so much potential and heart in the Latinx community and I want to shine as much light on that as I can,” she says.
3 Tips for Latinas in a Shifting Tech World
Monica thinks that the tech landscape for Latinas still isn't ideal but she's optimistic. On the one hand, excellent talent can go overlooked; on the other hand, the needle is moving toward more equity and inclusion.
“I think there have been many improvements around hiring and retention, as well as Latina talent filling more visible roles. I think leaders are listening and want to know how they can help,” she says.
For Latinas who want to find their footing in the tech landscape during this time of transition, here is Monica’s advice:
- Even if you don’t tick every box, put your hat in the ring. Sometimes you’ll be right for the job, even if you don’t meet every single requirement, so apply anyway. Monica recalls that a junior engineer she sponsored didn’t think she had what it took, but when she applied, she was promoted. “Now her team has grown three times. She's in a new org, under new leadership who recognizes her, her ability, and her impact,” she emphasized.
- Find a community, and collectively articulate your needs to leadership. Monica points out that leadership is listening, and now is the time to clarify needs through ERGs or other collectives. “We have to get really crystal clear about precisely what it is that we want and need,” she explains.
- Don’t be afraid to bring your cultural values into the workplace. Monica says that one value in her culture is taking care of others and that this has given many employees comfort and peace of mind during corporate restructuring. “I'm usually the one in the room that advocates for making sure that people are well taken care of, fully informed, and supported through change. I think that has a lot to do with my culture,” says Monica.
If you’re looking to be on the right side of important corporate tech conversations, Google is hiring!
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
💎Worried about bias in the workplace? Watch the video to the end to find out how to reduce it!
📼Avoiding bias in the workplace requires a lot of effort. Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Ben Lopez, Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA at Workiva, who shares advice on how to create a more fair, equitable environment where everyone feels welcome and has a seat at the table.
📼Acknowledging bias in the workplace is the starting point. Tip #1: Recognize Bias. Take the time to recognize your own bias. Both conscious and unconscious. And look out for bias within teams and among peers. Work together to understand how you can all avoid each of those biases that you may encounter.
📼Avoid sneaky bias in the workplace! Tip #2: Rely on a structured process. Whether it's about interviewing, promotions, or performance reviews, relying on a consistent, fair, and objective process will help guard against bias. Document the process to keep both you and your peers accountable. And when it comes to interviewing, work with your peers and other participants to define clear questions and objectives to cover with each candidate.
Reduce Bias In The Workplace By Knowing Different People - Tip #3: Widen Your Network
Don't always engage with the same people. Widen your internal network, and interact with different teams, and different departments. Get to know those with different life experiences, different academic backgrounds, and different work experiences. Understanding those who are different from us allows us to be more empathetic and create an environment where we all feel a sense of belonging.
📨 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ben Lopez
With a robust background in recruitment, Ben is an agile and well-networked talent acquisition leader. He’s been recruiting high-caliber talent around the globe for 15 years, spanning SaaS software, professional services, oil & gas, and healthcare across four continents. If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Ben Lopez on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.