Why Fairness Matters & Justice is just something totally different
Growing up in a marginalized community I always knew things would not come easy or even come at all. My inability to speak English until later on in school and being placed in ESL classes was the label that held me back. Or did it?
Well, I’ve learned to believe that it was the reason I did so well in the corporate world. As a kid I felt the world was not going to help me, so I helped myself. I did not take the traditional route to success as many would believe.
I knew college was an option and I struggled to make it through school to attend a four-year university. Knowing if I received a B.A. it would be a miracle. The odds were against me. My family would not help support me. I had no real support system and no one that could mentor me. In fact, it was not part of my family fabric to have a mentor let along a coach to see me through.
Two years into my college career I left and joined the United States Air Force. To me, it was a place I would be provided with food and shelter in exchange for hard work. After all, that is what my family thought me. Hard work was at the cornerstone of our family philosophy.
Traveling the world via USAF thanks to the American taxpayers I learned that in fact, I was not the only one at a disadvantage, so was the rest of the world. No real shot at gaining momentum when it comes to accumulation of wealth because the “systems” necessary to get ahead are not necessarily embedded in marginalized communities or marginalized countries.
Nevertheless, I understood why so many people seek the American Dream. Through my travels, I could see that many wanted a shot at the bare basics. This is what I got in the USAF (the bare basics and a lot of courage). Because of it, I had the opportunity to see life for what it is.
A spiritual experience lived in a human body. Yes, we still struggle with unfairness and inequality in the USA specially women and women of color and LGTB but that is not the reason why we don’t get ahead. In my opinion, we don’t get ahead because we stop trying and we don’t look for other ways to make sense of life specially our work life. Someone always helped me eventually because they saw I never quit.
In the newest research by https://womenintheworkplace.com they find that women don’t’ get selected to management roles and are not helped or “sponsored” by others in the workplace. I find this to be true in my own experience. Nevertheless, I had to find “other” ways to make my dreams come true or keep trying until someone sponsored me. I had to keep learning and keep looking for alternative ways to understand the world. For a long time, I understood that the “systems” in a place were not designed for me or by me. They were never designed to help people that looked like me or thought like me. So, I did what my family thought me I worked hard at whatever came my way.
After reading this research and the real numbers on inequality and fairness I know I’m not alone. I’m not in a country that tells me to fend for myself anymore but rather in a country that recognizes my community and wants to mend for what has been traditionally acceptable. In a unique and wonderful way, America is beginning to recognize that marginalized communities are also part of the fabric of America. For this, I am grateful and know we have much work to do. Fairness in the workplace can be put in place but still, it does not mean we as women still get a shot at leadership roles. When applying for a job I filled out the same application as men did. This was “fair” to me. I was usually passed over for a man and in some instances, I believed it to be unfair because I was more qualified nevertheless it was a “fair process’. Now justice would have demanded I get the job. I was better equipped and more qualified than my male counterpart but for that to happen we need a “just” and obligatory “system’ or “corporate fabric” that demands “justice” for all women. I believe we are slowly getting there. When we do this and create a “just system” this too will be part of the American story and we will have conquered one great feat and live the true ideals of American culture.
Until then, I still believe that my ESL classes, my Latino last name and my world travel in the USAF helped me overcome the now “factual” biases that have always existed. Now let’s get to work and start sponsoring women of color, LGTB, and women in general. More power to us~