Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders
By Raquel Tamez
Chief Inclusion & Engagement Officer, Charles River Associates
Back in May, I had the honor of attending the VEX Robotics
Live Remote World Championships. As part of this amazing
event—the largest online robot championship ever,
according to Guinness World Records—I was inducted into VEX’s
STEM Hall of Fame. I also received the organization’s STEM Hero
Award. The same one that was given last year to my good friend and
mentor, former Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylva Acevedo.
To say I was humbled would be an understatement. There I was,
surrounded by budding scientists and engineers from around the world
(albeit virtually), and all I kept thinking was… How did I get here?
As I mentioned during my speech, I’m not a scientist, an engineer or a
mathematician. I’m a lawyer by training. When I joined the Society of Hispanic
Professional Engineers (SHPE) as its new CEO in 2017, it wasn’t just my first CEO
role; it was my first real foray into STEM.
During my four years at SHPE, our mission—empowering the Hispanic
community to achieve its fullest potential in STEM—became more than just a
noble cause. It became a calling. A very personal one. I’m incredibly proud of
what my team and I accomplished: record membership; increased attendance
at all events; more meaningful partnerships; enhanced engagement across all
programs; holding our first-ever Virtual National Convention (which drew nearly
10,000 participants)—the list goes on.
In that time, the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) became an
increasingly important focus for me. One of my primary objectives as CEO was
to demonstrate to some of the biggest companies in the world why pursuing
DE&I—tapping into the incredible STEM talent that exists in our Hispanic
community—doesn’t just make for good PR; it helps spur innovation, reduce
organizational risk and ultimately boosts the bottom line.
When the opportunity came to join global consulting firm Charles River
Associates as its first-ever Chief Inclusion and Engagement Officer, I knew it was
one I couldn’t pass up. Here was a chance to bring about the kind of tangible,
foundational change that I’ve long advocated for—at a company where
thinking outside the box and being disruptive and innovative aren’t merely
encouraged; but expected. The support and encouragement I’ve received so far
has been incredible.
Once again, I find myself embarking on a new and exciting journey. Like
every great journey, this one began with a few fateful first steps. In just the past
month, we’ve created a new rainbow-themed logo for Pride Month (a first for CRA
in its 50-year history); launched a Pride Spotlight series aimed at highlighting
CRA team members within the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve also begun the process
of revolutionizing our recruiting, interviewing and hiring practices; mapping out
comprehensive DE&I training; evolving our ERG framework; and streamlining our
CSR efforts. And there are many more initiatives on the horizon.
Suffice it to say, these past few months—offboarding with SHPE and
onboarding with CRA—have been an absolute whirlwind. In the midst of it all,
like the calm eye of a hurricane, the honors I received at the VEX World
Championships gave me a chance to reflect on my own journey as a Latina in
STEM. It’s a day I’ll never forget.
My work advocating for Hispanics (and my fellow Latinas especially) is far
from over. If anything, it’s just beginning. Instead of increasing DE&I in STEM,
however, my efforts are now focused on increasing diversity in the field of
economics and transforming the field of professional services—to make them
more inclusive of *all* people of color. By amplifying the cause of DE&I at CRA,
my aim is to show our clients and stakeholders around the world the incredible
untapped potential that exists in traditional marginalized communities.
While each of us must blaze our own unique path, the destination—a world
where diverse talent, in all its many forms, is a driving force in every industry—
is one we should all be moving towards. One ambitious, determined step at a
time – *together*. Por que juntos, si se puede.
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Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 2017, Raquel Tamez served as CEO of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), an organization
committed to empowering Hispanics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and one of the
largest Hispanic-serving organizations in the country. During her four years at SHPE, Tamez strengthened SHPE’s
relationships with its corporate, academic, government, and nonprofit partners. Prior to joining SHPE, she served
as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of SourceAmerica.
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