Celebrating Differences: How Race and Ethnicity Shaped My Love of Comms

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One PR pro offers her own story of growing up with a unique heritage—and what it might look like to celebrate the many backgrounds that are represented in a diverse organization.

 

Nicole Rodrigues, Founder & CEO, NRPR Group

As a female business owner of Latin American and Middle Eastern descent, I have always held inclusion and diversity close as fundamental core values. While my family was the only Puerto Rican and/or Syrian group in the neighborhood, the area was extremely diverse, and most of my friends were either Black, white or Mexican. Once I reached middle school, my world expanded as I was exposed to even more cultural backgrounds, and I soon had Filipino, Afghan, Chinese and Japanese friends to add to the tapestry of peers and loved ones who helped shape me into the woman I am today.

I didn’t really know how to differentiate people according to color or culture, because we all fit together, a blend of backgrounds living together—but I did feel a certain pleasure in being one of the few Puerto Ricans in that space. My “difference” felt empowering and special because those around me treated me with dignity, love and respect. It was strange to think life could be any other way for others.

It wasn’t until I entered the workforce that I first noticed a lack of diversity around me, awakening my world view and affecting my actions as an employee (and especially as a boss). Early in my career, I worked at a San Franciscan tech PR firm, where I was the only Hispanic female in an office of 60 people. Despite being a naturally diligent, enthusiastic worker, the uncomfortably non-inclusive corporate culture prevented me from doing my best work and became one of a few reasons for leaving that role.

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