Punto Final: By Raquel Tamez Chief Inclusion & Engagement Officer at Charles River Associates

Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders

By Raquel Tamez
Chief Inclusion & Engagement Officer at 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.

 

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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