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  • Writer's pictureSonia Pings Rodriguez

(under bad conditions for inadequate pay)

The Great Resignation has been making the news, splashing across our phone and computer screens, quietly discussed by our HR departments, infiltrating our every day conversations. Even if you don't know it by that name, you've heard of or felt the effects of workplaces across every industry being understaffed. You've experienced "labor shortage" problems. Potentially even at your own company. Here's the thing though: there is no labor shortage.

There are plenty of people willing and able to work, but they want something that a lot of companies don't want to provide: good working conditions, fair pay, and basic human dignity. The entire world has been living in a state of trauma since 2020. The pandemic has taken loved ones, caused increased anxiety and depression, stripped us of our sense of normalcy and security. Now more than ever, people are realizing they need to protect their physical and mental health. This shift in mentality is allowing people to prioritize themselves and now grind culture is suffering.

Early on in the pandemic (and to a lesser degree, even now) work from home blurred our concepts of work and home. Contrary to the ever popular belief pre-covid that people would slack off if allowed to work from home, employees actually began clocking more hours. The lack of commute and opportunity for things to do combined with the need for interpersonal connections drove many to working longer than their scheduled 40 hour work week. In the "essential businesses" this increase in work was not always in hours but often effort. With workplaces reducing staff, the staff left were forced to increase their productivity to offset the loss of coworkers. They worked in uncertainty without much done to protect them from the virus or the angry masses. These shifts skewed the idea of work-life balance and started a flood of people on the path to burnout.

As a result, companies became filled with employees that were exhausted to a point of emptiness and desperation. The notion of continuing to give 150% to jobs that treated them as disposable became abhorrent. People began to realize the toxicity of their workplaces. They flocked to social media and were met with a pattern of workplaces that only practiced performative diversity efforts, weren't equipped to handle neurodivergence, underpaid their employees, understaffed their teams, used favoritism, set unrealistic expectations, did little to ensure safety, etc. So, employees began to turn elsewhere. They began to demand raises. They took jobs with competitors. They resigned, with or without other prospects, because that decision was better for them.

So what can corporate America do to ensure their top talent stays with them? How do they retain their employees during this period? The answer is to listen to your employees. Not just hear their complaints or concerns, but to actually actively listen and engage. Pay people what they are worth, not what you think the bare minimum someone will fall for is. Curb the practice of overworking. Hire more people before your teams start to implode from the stress. Create flexible work opportunities and practices for people who don't thrive in the typical 9-5 Monday-Friday environment. Start conversations about equity and belonging. Realize that your employees are humans and humans are not disposable and replaceable. They are vital.

  • Writer's pictureSonia Pings Rodriguez

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

What will I say to my daughter

Who will feel even more of a fraud than me?

Because daddy is white and mamá might as well be.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know my culture.

I’m just a pretender.

Skin like the moon so I never could really call myself brown.

Spanish I learned mostly in school instead of from life.

Trips to my grandfather’s country where I never visited his home,

Just hotels on white sand shores.

Private school education and how I avoided my people

Because for sure they would see that I was just faking.

A good passing accent that’s probably just overcompensation.

The knowledge that I know I lack

Always just out of reach.

How can my daughter feel connected to a motherland

That her mother doesn’t know?

It’s so easy to fall into the same pattern of assimilation

My family built out of necessity

And it’s so hard to shake the feeling that I need it too.

Proudly Latina but without the look or language or understanding?

I am a shell of a person.

There’s no substance to me.

My words are hollow.

But I have to learn or at least learn to hide it,

Because my daughter does not deserve my damage.

A response to this amazing article:

Bottom line: if something is completely ineffective the work is not getting done.

This is article perfectly explains WHY I felt the need to start DEI Zillennial. I have seen, heard, and experienced how the DEI industry is currently lacking. And I know that it's unpopular to call out an industry whose intentions are good, because shouldn't I just be happy with what I have? My grandpa grew up in Mexico, definitely spoke better Spanish than English, and was a blue collar worker all his life. I am fortunate enough to have parents that were able to provide a better life for me, pay for my education, and push me into something more. I am a white collar worker in the financial industry. I know I am luckier than most people, especially other Latina women. But no, I do not have to be happy with this life.

Gratitude for those before me does not negate the passion and protective instinct I have for those who will come after me. So yes, I am thankful for the DEI work that started this movement, that paved the way for a conversation, that shone a light on inequity and bias. But I am also driven to further this conversation, to create real and long lasting change, to leave a footprint. I started my work on the DEI Committee in our office doing research into the current practices, models, advice, etc. and what I found was work out of the 90s. Now in and of itself, that's not a bad thing. I'm a 90s baby and I love that. However, we have moved on from those times in virtually every aspect. I don't see anyone clinging to dial up and bricks for cell phones. So why are we still using the same practices for DEI 30 years down the road? Why are we comfortable not seeing results from our efforts?

It's time that we look beyond performative DEI and follow metrics, hear feedback, admit mistakes and better ourselves. I am not fighting for myself (at least not completely); I am fighting for the kids I went to school with who heard the phrases "think about when you came to this country" and "you people" from educators. I am fighting for other women who have been told "apart from your name you wouldn't know you're 'Spanish'" during a job interview. I am fighting for coworkers that endured statements about how "the company is prioritizing technology" over DEI efforts. I am asking to put real people and their opinions ahead of outdated ineffective methodology.

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