Ever since she was a child, Beatriz Garcia has always felt drawn to helping people.
“I was that kid who would sign up to volunteer and help teachers. It was my way to connect with others since I was really shy. I’ve always been interested in understanding people, talking to people, and learning from them,” Beatriz told mornings with moni.
Beatriz grew up in the Westside of Los Angeles as the oldest of four children with a huge extended family. Her immigrant parents are from a small town in Michoacán, Mexico, and her dad is one of 16 children and her mom is one of nine. “I am really close to both my immediate family and all my tías, tíos, primas, and primos,” says Beatriz.
Strong family values and helping others were instilled in Beatriz at an early age. Beatriz often grew up witnessing her parents helping other people in their hometown by always welcoming others needing a place to stay, or paying it forward by cooking a warm meal.
These acts of kindness displayed by her parents never left Beatriz. It was something that she carried on with her through her childhood and adult years in social justice advocacy and her career in nonprofits.
But growing up, Beatriz felt as though she lived two different lives before becoming awakened to injustices happening in her community and beyond.
“I grew up in a mostly Latinx community, near government subsidized housing, and attended a Title 1 school. The inequalities and injustices were all around me. I didn’t understand nor had language to express what I felt,” said Beatriz.
When she was in the fourth grade, Beatriz recalls helping out her sister’s class when the school received an alert that it had to be placed on lockdown because something had happened across the street from the school.
“They asked us to lay on the floor with the lights off and while laying next to my sister, I heard one of the teacher’s aide say to another adult, ‘What do you expect with the projects being across the street?’”
For Beatriz, it was one of those moments where she couldn’t quite comprehend the specifics of what was said, but she knew it was something hurtful and unjust.
“The projects were the place where my friends lived, where my brother played baseball, where I heard the music I loved play out of windows, where the paleteros came from after school, and where people who looked like me lived,” said Beatriz.
There were many times growing up when Beatriz felt like she led two different identities: The fun-loving Beatriz at home with a love for Mexican music, food, television and traditions. And then, there was another life she carried on at school as an ESL student, often feeling as though she was inferior and didn’t belong due to the language barrier.
“Growing up in two worlds led me to not feel like I knew who I was for a long time…In my heart I was Mexican and was being told I was American. And so began what many first-generation individuals experience feeling as if you belong and live in two worlds.”
Beatriz felt this experience of being treated as an “outsider” hit harder in high school after attending Palisades High School, a charter school in a predominantly white neighborhood, explained Beatriz.
“Like many parents, mine wanted to give me the best opportunities for my education and so I traveled from Culver City to Palisades by bus. It was the first time where I experienced self-segregation during nutrition and lunch, majority white classrooms, and white culture,” said Beatriz.
It was in high school when Beatriz became more aware of injustices and inequalities facing marginalized communities and people of color. She added that her desire to support and volunteer for her community was in direct response to some of the injustices and inequalities she witnessed and experienced firsthand as a Latina woman.
For Beatriz, the journey to self-discovery has been honoring and reconciling these two worlds in pursuit of her authentic self.
“I believe I’ve always had this fire in me, perhaps it was dim to start because I was shy…but as my confidence grew and my understanding of how I can interrupt and disrupt injustice, it now burns bright.”
Stepping into her Power as a #GirlBoss
Beatriz says she stumbled across a career in nonprofits by accident. In college, she was unsure of what she wanted to pursue as a career and didn’t know that the nonprofit sector was an option.
What she did know was that she had an interest in supporting, serving, and volunteering for the community. She eventually joined the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, which became a pivotal stepping stone and catalyst to her nonprofit career.
After graduating college, Beatriz became a manager at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers–a role she is grateful to have had for eight years before becoming a transformational coach.
“I feel like most things in my life, it was a calling that I spent many years ignoring because of my own limiting thoughts.”
When she started out as a manager, she admits she had no idea what she was doing. She also didn’t receive any training to learn how to manage people. So in her free time, she began reading books, articles, watching videos, and attending webinars to educate herself on management tools.
“My imposter syndrome was so triggered and that feeling stayed with me a long time. And because I was such an overachiever I was committed to being the best manager ever.”
Through the organization, Beatriz was able to move up from assistant to manager. She was able to discover her passion for creating and envisioning teams, departments and solutions. Most importantly, she became an advocate for supporting women of color in their own careers.
She also became responsible for creating a majority of the positions for the organizations based on organizational needs.
“I have had a total of eight titles and I’ve created five of them. I credit this to being the oldest in my household. If I don’t see a path and there is a need for one…I will pave it for myself and others.”
Beatriz is all about supporting other women and rooting for them as they move up the ladder in their careers. “I never wanted to be the only one moving up and growing at an organization. This is where my dedication to supporting women of color was born.”
Today, Beatriz is a transformational coach that is passionate about using her career experience in nonprofit management to help elevate and support other women. She knows, firsthand, what it’s like to not have this type of support earlier on in one’s career.
“I believe in people and when they sit across from me and tell me they don’t see themselves earning more, being promoted, giving that presentation, being the lead of a project, and managing a team, I know I’m there to support their growth in believing they can. Much of my support comes from not having it in my career. I want to be the supervisor and mentor I never had.”
‘Your Truth at Work’
In conversations with women of color and other colleagues who feel their voices have not been represented at work, Beatriz Garcia decided to co-found “Your Truth at Work.” It’s a community forum and safe platform inspired by the need to support people speaking their truths about racism or feeling unsupported or misunderstood at work.
“Your Truth at Work” was in part created by Beatriz and her friend, Marisa Gedney, after hearing the news about the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Beatriz and co-founder Marisa wanted to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement and make an impact, but weren’t sure how. A few weeks later, Beatriz and Marisa came up with an idea to create a healing circle in August inviting a close-knit group of women to participate and share their workplace experiences.
“In a matter of eight weeks, we launched our first circle, created our Instagram page and website. I am very excited for this new journey.”
The overall mission of Your Truth at Work is to create a “BIPOC healing space for women and non-binary advocates who demand and desire equity and justice at work,” according to Beatriz.
The organization is currently hosting a 4-week healing circle for women and non-binary BIPOC to speak up against racism, sexism, anti-blackness, and other harmful practices in the workplace.
The ultimate goal, says Beatriz, is to create a community of “truth tellers who demand justice at work toward creating change.”
Unfortunately, the society we live in today was not designed with marginalized individuals in mind, according to Beatriz. She came to understand this truth through the various experiences she’d had in her childhood and career.
“Our lives are centered around white culture and white dominance. It is embedded in so many aspects of our lives from our beauty standards, what success looks like, what rest and wellness looks like, what professionalism means, and even who is considered articulate and embodies eloquence. We may experience white dominance in overt ways and have an immediate reaction to it, but it’s the covert ways that is exhausting.”
“Your Truth at Work” is an attempt to bring awareness and educate others about biases and ways to talk about being advocates for all marginalized voices.
“The ‘small’ subtle ways it shows up in our lives is why it’s important to be more aware and decide how each of us will advocate for all marginalized voices. Our contributions to social justice works does not all need to be the same. We all can advocate in ways that are meaningful to us,” says Beatriz.
There are many challenges that women of color face in the workplace such as microaggressions and unconscious bias or being passed over on a promotion, according to Harvard Business Review.
“In the workplace, women are exploited and dismissed because of patriarchal culture. Women are exploited by earning less for the same level of work by a male counterpart, we are exploited by taking on more responsibilities and not being paid for the additional labor, and we are also relied on for our emotional labor when it is convenient and useful but not compensated for,” says Beatriz.
Beatriz adds that often, women of color are dismissed or stereotyped by men who are often in positions of power. Some of the common stereotypical phrases that Beatriz says exist in the workplace include phrases like: “She’s too emotional,” or “I’m concerned she may be too sensitive to manage this project,” or “Work is not her priority.”
Phrases like this lead women to not be prioritized or considered for promotions, or leading new projects or being highlighted for their contributions to an organization, according to Beatriz.
“The internalized oppression we’ve learned stems from the patriarchal culture we work in. It has led us to create limiting beliefs of ourselves that are unique to our insecurities rooted in our gender and race.”
These feelings often show up as imposter syndrome, or the idea of not feeling good enough, or being in the constant pursuit of adding more credentials to appear more qualified, says Beatriz.
Beatriz knows of this experience all too well. Throughout her career as a nonprofit professional, she’s been “mansplained” or not regarded as an expert in her field even though she is well qualified to lead.
As a result of being talked down to or not regarded as a professional, Beatriz would often experience imposter syndrome and internalize it as her fault for not being “good enough.”
“After some time unlearning and embracing my expertise by challenging what was being said in meetings, I became comfortable with the notion that I don’t have to be liked by everyone but I do want to be respected as the professional I am.”
To continue supporting women of color in the workplace and beyond, Beatriz says it’s important to acknowledge and understand that both systemic and individual change need to occur.
“Become comfortable with challenging the policies and procedures in place that are not inclusive and equitable towards women and all people of color. In addition, become comfortable with acknowledging your own biases and how you may have been complicit in the unfair treatment of the women you work with,” says Beatriz.
She adds that by addressing both the system and the individuals who operate within it, you can create true radical and sustainable change.
Beatriz is grateful for the opportunity to create a safe space for all women to share their experiences and become their “authentic self” through her work as a transformational coach and co-founder of “Your Truth At Work.”
“My mission and calling in life to evolve and grow in service towards healing our world in which everyone is free to be their most authentic self. I believe that as I heal and better understand my pain, insecurities, biases, and my past, I am able to interrupt and disrupt projecting it onto others. So I offer people this: Each day you are making progress. Each moment you choose differently you are using your strength. Change happens incrementally. Look back and acknowledge the ways in which you are no longer the same,” says Beatriz.
-Written by Monica Luhar for mornings with moni
*You can learn more about Beatriz and “Your Truth At Work” at https://www.yourtruthatwork.com/