Latinos Often Lack Access to Career Networking Opportunities. This Platform Aims to Change That

Photo by laflor / E+

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While it’s an unfair fact of life, landing a job can come down to your professional connections. But for Latinos – who find themselves underrepresented across many industries – this poses a challenge. But what if you could easily scroll through a list of Latino contacts in your same industry who could give you guidance and serve as mentors? BeVisible – a platform that basically serves as a Rolodex of Latino professionals – does just that.

Started by Andrea Guendelman and Silvia Travesani, BeVisible is a career network for several communities, with an emphasis on the Latino community. Much like LinkedIn and Indeed, BeVisible features job listings, many of which members of the Latino community are particularly well suited for, as well as the aforementioned directory of Latino contacts and tips on how to navigate your career and even finances. “We fuse the freshest ideas in social networking with content from the nation’s most influential Latinxs,” the site’s About Us section reads. “BeVisible blends online journalism with the ability of our community members to share content, ask questions, and build professional profiles. BeVisible allows Latinxs to connect to peers, mentors, and resources – including recruiters from top universities and companies.”

Guendelman knows what it feels like to lack a supportive professional community. Born in Oakland but raised in Chile, she struggled to find a job after graduating top of her class at University of Chile Law School. She returned to the United States and attended Harvard Law School, which resulted in a plethora of opportunities, despite having no personal connections.

“The days of diversity as window dressing and inclusion as lip service are over.”

But attending an Ivy League isn’t a possibility for everyone, so a platform like BeVisible can help us get a foot in the door. The website has more than 15,000 registered users – who can be searched for by name, company, industry, and location – in fields, such as software development and engineering to business and media. Now, Guendelman is hoping to bring some of this assistance to marginalized communities in real life. On May 17, she’s launching BeWorkSF, a one-of-a-kind multicultural networking event for Latinx professionals. Her team describes the conference as an “unprecedented” event where the worlds of technology, art, music and professionalism collide to create a vibrant and entertaining immersive experience.

Talented professionals and companies will connect in a space that genuinely embraces inclusion, diversity, and belonging by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Guendelman wants women, the LGBTQ community, non-gender binary individuals, people of color, and all individuals to reach their full potential. She knows first-hand no one person can accomplish success without a support system.

BeWokeSF will take place at the Pearl in San Francisco and feature numerous corporate executives, thought leaders, hiring managers and employee resource groups. The mission of the conference is to “dissolve professional and personal barriers to success.”

“In the wake of the #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and an upsurge of recognition for non-binary gender identities, this event comes at a crucial national moment,” Guendelman says, according to a press release. “By bringing together leaders from across the diversity field, we will explore what employers and millennials are looking for in the workplace, forge a culture of radical transparency when it comes to talking about gender and race diversity and equal pay, and break down barriers that hinder opportunities for underrepresented groups.”

Some of the workshop and discussion topics include The Authentic Leader: Tapping Into Your Identity and Personal Story to Rise to the Top, Calladitas No More in the Time’s Up/Me Too World, and Women in Tech.

“The days of diversity as window dressing and inclusion as lip service are over,” says Tom Chavez, CEO and co-founder of Krux, a Salesforce Company, in a written statement. “To drive new opportunities for the under-represented and the under-estimated, we need creative thinking and great execution. BeWokeSF will bring us together to catalyze action and create the roadmap.”

Guendelman said that roadmap can lead to authentic institutional change. “This is a recruiting event, but it doesn’t look like a recruiting event,” she tells Remezcla. “Only the most progressive companies are sponsoring this event. They are in contact with youth and they understand the way they operate.”

She describes today’s young working professionals as an urban multicultural group that doesn’t like to feel intimidated or like it can’t be authentic in the workplace. “(Their mindset is) this is who we are. This is our culture. This is our music. These are our role models,’” Guendelman adds. “We are going to show up like this and if you want to meet us, meet us here, where we are.”

Eventually, BeWoke, which started as a campus-wide event at a Colorado university, seeks to expand into various cities throughout the United States.

Tickets for BeWoke range from $35 to $125. Learn more here.

Update, May 11, 2018 at 10:35 a.m.: This post has been updated to correct Andrea Guendelman’s name. A previous version accidentally called her Adriana Guendelman.