I Am Not a Minority! I Am a Human Being!

Hire Me for Experience, not to Fill a Quota

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Laura Martinez Laura Martinez
A week ago, a former colleague told me his new employer, a "huge" multinational bank, was desperately looking to hire an Executive Vice President of Human Resources. "You're perfect for the gig!" he assured me. "They'll hire you in a second!"

I really like this guy but I wasn't sure of what he was talking about. Other than being fond of humans (well, some) and having a desire to have lots of resources in a bank, I couldn't really see why someone with my background, would be "perfect" for the gig, especially one with such a pompous title.

"They need to hire minorities. You're not only Hispanic, but you are a woman," he informed me.

I was half thankful, half puzzled at the proposal. He even said the bank was "extremely interested" in my background and would set up an interview as soon as possible. No word of my absolute lack of experience working in a financial institution -- human resources or not, having devoted all my life to the humble trade of writing stories for newspapers and magazines.

The interview, of course, never happened. But the incident made me realize that the bank in question was not interested in me as a professional; it was interested in me as a female Hispanic. And while both attributes might describe partly who I am, I thought it plain wrong to use them as "check marks" to get ahead of other, more qualified individuals who just happen not to be black, Hispanic, women, handicapped or somehow "challenged" in one way or another.

Before moving to the U.S. in 1999, I had lived and worked in Mexico, Singapore, Chile and Argentina, and never before I felt I had to wave a minority flag to get hired, noticed or to get ahead. (Trust me, you cannot be more a minority than a Mexican living among Singaporeans!) For the most part, I have always pitched my professional experience as an attribute far more useful than my heritage or gender.

I know corporations are pressed to fill up diversity-hiring quotas as a way to patch up years of gender and color discrimination, but I refuse to play along. And unlike some of my fellow Hispanics, who have jumped on the trillion-dollar opportunity wagon to present themselves as "professional Hispanics," dusting off the Rodriguez' and Gonzalez' from their armoires, I'd rather remain a plain professional, who by accident of nature, also happens to be Mexican . . . and a woman.

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Read more from Laura daily at Mi Blog Es Tu Blog.
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