I grew up in a family where diversity and inclusion were very important. My family helped me understand that people come from all walks of life and everyone should feel welcome, and that we should consider others’ perspectives and be empathetic to their feelings and needs. So it’s something that I’ve always actively looked for in the organizations I’ve wanted to be part of.
For example, when I look at an organization and see that they have female role models that I could work with, I feel inspired because it shows that there is a path for people like me. There are women breaking the glass ceiling and women breaking so many societal boundaries and making their voices heard, and it’s all truly inspiring. For me, when we come together, we can accomplish more than we are individually.
Sense of belonging
I’m currently a consultant at Bain’s Boston office and one of the things that really stood out to me when I recruited was how many inspiring female leaders there were. I had the pleasure of meeting some of them and it was amazing to hear their stories and how they managed to succeed in their careers, while finding things they love to do outside of work to have a balanced lifestyle. These women have been pillar mentors in helping me figure out where I should take my career, what I should consider and how I can improve.
Earlier in my career, I worked in an organization that didn’t have as many female role models. In fact, most people are graduates of the same two universities and have a lot more experience in the field. As a result, I struggled a bit. I thought, am I doing the right thing? Who should I contact for advice? I felt my journey was so different from what other people at work had gone through and often they didn’t understand my challenges because of those differences.
In society at large, the reality is that you’re not going to belong everywhere. Feeling like you don’t belong can be very difficult, especially before you find the people you belong to.
No matter how hard an organization tries to foster a sense of community and make everyone feel like a part of it, you’re not going to get along with everyone. I was very lucky to always feel like I belonged, even though not all the places I worked were very diverse. It’s partly because I’m happy to be the first point of representation, like the first female or Asian person in a group.
But this process can be difficult and it can be very uncomfortable, especially at first. Not everyone is open to talking about things like gender and race and all that makes us different, but also incredibly unique. I’ve sometimes thought, am I stepping too far out of the mold people expect me to be in? But no, these are fundamental elements of my identity that I cannot compromise on.