Santalynda Marero, EdD
Coach, Facilitator, Trainer, Author
“ Haz bien, y no mires a quien!” Cuban Proverb
(Do good and Fear no Shame)
A culture of Inclusiveness
My parents, Victoria Irizarry Marrero and Santos Marrero, migrated to the US from Puerto Rico in the 1950s. We were only one of the two Latino families in the town we lived in. I grew up seeing them struggle with the stereotyping and discrimination of the times, and wondering why they could not have the things that others had. But my parents were strong in character and culture, and that helped siphon some of their anger around the lack of acceptance. My father and mother were not schooled in the traditional sense, but they were highly educated. To them, humility, loyalty and collaboration were more important than any learning that formal schooling
would bring. I was the first in my family to get a doctorate. But my father never let that get to my head. “Never ever think you are better than anyone else and never ever let someone think they are better than you.” he always said. Thanks to his influence, my definition of success has expanded to include the success of others as well.
Several years ago, I worked in a hospital system. My role was managing funding for social initiatives. Very often, the top executives of our organization would be present in these meetings.If the cleaning lady ever walked into these meetings to clean the trash, I made it a point to thank her by name. At that time, it was not the status quo to address janitors by name. But I knew that for the cleaning lady, it felt good to be acknowledged in front of the executive team. Eventually the CEO of the company sitting in the meetings noticed the message of inclusiveness I was trying to get across, and he too started acknowledging the cleaning lady and thereby leveling the playing field.
There is yet another incident that comes to mind when I think of inclusiveness.
One of the executives of my organization took a special interest in my work. One day, she called me aside and suggested that I take over the role of leading a particularly highprofile project. She felt my approach and education would help move the project forward faster than under its current leadership. It felt good for my ego to be asked. But I also knew that my colleague leading the project had invested a good deal of her time and energy in the project. I asked myself how it would feel for me to be in her position to be sidestepped in favor of a colleague. I told the executive, that I was thankful for her consideration, but the only way I would consider taking this on was as a coleader of the project. The executive was initially reluctant, but she let me have my way. I then approached my colleague, and praised her for her efforts on the project and then asked if she would feel comfortable if I co-led the project with her. I never told her
about the executive’s suggestion. Happily for me, she was actually excited at the idea. With her experience and my insight, the project turned out to be very successful. But more importantly, she became a very dear friend to me. Even after I moved on from the organization and even after she has retired from work, our friendship continues.
Recently she and I were having tea, when out of the blue she said,
“Santa, you remember the project we worked on all those years ago?”
I nodded yes.
“ I never told you this’ she said slowly, “but I know what you did, and I love you for it”
In pausing to be compassionate and inclusive, not only had I found a work place collaborator, but I had gained a lifelong friend.
I believe compassion starts from self. There are lots of things that we can allow ourselves to worry about, but there are even more things to be grateful for. Before I walk out of my home, I stand in front of the mirror and point to my reflection and pick myself apart.
“ Look at you” I tell my reflection “your hair is graying, your skin is sagging, you have a pimple on your nose that looks ugly” After I have ripped myself apart, I pause and turn the finger onto myself, and say “ But you, you are nothing like that reflection. You are perfect. Your body, mind and spirit are beautiful as they are”. And then, in the knowledge that I am as perfect as I am meant to be, I step out to face my day.
About Santalynda Marrero
A dynamic organizational consultant, executive coach (career and life), facilitator, trainer, author, and thought leader, Dr. Santalynda Marrero draws on her expertise as a counseling psychologist and 30+ years of experience in helping individuals, teams and organizations to propel their careers to the next level. Her belief in story as “data with a soul” that engages mutual regard and leverages talent led her to coauthor the book: The Diversity Calling: Building Community One Story at a Time (2011 Xlibris/Amazon). She is the CEO of SM Consulting and Associates.