Onward! A reflection and call to action.

Reflection

The long holiday “break” gave me the opportunity I’ve yearned for, since Dreamforce, to pause and reflect. Watching my mother, daughter, and sister-in-law dedicate days to preparing a lovely meal for our family really underscored our shift away from such traditions in the digital age. Also, as a working mom that depends on my Blue Apron delivery, I consider a homemade pie (or two!) something to be thankful for.

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Taking the time to reflect reminded me to be grateful for my family, friends, and the communities that I am a part of. Of course, this includes our Amplify community. I am so thankful for the inspiring Amplify members, partners, and accomplices, and for all the progress we have made thus far. We have accomplished a lot.

At the same time, we still have much to accomplish. Echoing the sentiments of Marc Benioff, I view the path to equality as a journey, not a destination; there is no finish line.  This is a journey of intention coupled with action, that we must weave into our personal and professional lives on a daily basis.

Amplify members personify this journey. We have built a collaborative, inclusive community and have started to bring the challenges that we each have faced on our own journeys into the light, through storytelling.  Not only has our membership grown in size (from two to almost 5,000), but we have also evolved significantly in the past four years. We will continue to grow, not only in size, but in our breadth, as we include a wide swath of underrepresented voices, and in our depth, as our relationships with each other strengthen through storytelling, mentorship, training, and shared memories. It is my honor and privilege to lead Amplify going forward, with love, in the direction of inclusivity, empowerment, and change.

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This past year, unexpected changes in both my personal life and in our political climate have pushed me to spend more time reflecting and revaluating my place in the world.

After the 2016 presidential election, I felt like the world I’d grown to love had shattered overnight. In the weeks and months following, I experienced feelings of fear, doubt, and disillusionment more profoundly than I had in many years. I wondered: How do I keep my chin up? What will my daughter’s future look like? How do I rebel against conservative, distasteful, sexist, racist politics? WHAT can I control?

Four days after the election, my mother, my daughter and I decided to buy tickets to go to D.C. for the Women’s March. Last January, we found ourselves among several million people around the globe who felt compelled to demonstrate their compassion and respect for themselves and their local and global community by taking to the streets and expressing their sentiments.  

The Women’s March was my pause; the time for reflection that I needed. Although the circumstances in our country didn’t necessarily change for the better after January 21st, the power of my experience in D.C. continues to burn like a small flame in my heart. It gave me the strength I needed to carry on, and the courage to disallow the political shadow that is casting a negative spell on the world to snuff out the fire in my heart. 

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This fire enables me to allow my questions to rise to the surface and give me strength, instead of succumbing to drowning in fear and disillusion. Almost every day, I read, re-read, and re-read again a quote that has been hanging on my bedroom wall for many years now:

 “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”

- Rainer Maria Rilke

As has happened before, when I approach my fears with poise and power, the answers which initially eluded me have revealed themselves, each in their own way, and in their own time. There has been no need for searching. Instead, signs have popped up everywhere. Literally.

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In June, I got a call from Joni Bryan. She was ready to start letting go of her baby: the movement she started in 2013, and to let that baby grow wings. When Joni suggested that I might step into the role of leading this movement, familiar feelings of fear and doubt started to creep in, but not for long. It quickly became clear to me that this was the call to action I’d been waiting for. This was the opportunity I was seeking, to try to make a positive impact on my larger community. It was also an opportunity to expand our reach to include other underrepresented voices in tech. 

Onward!

We have made a lot of progress, and many of us had the opportunity to celebrate this progress during the 5th Annual Girlforce@Dreamforce (to be Amplify@Dreamforce) breakfast in San Francisco.  This event has become an important tradition for many of us who attend Dreamforce.

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We also have a lot of work ahead of us. Recently, I read an article from the Wall Street Journal, which included the dismal statistic that Latina and Asian women still hold only 3% of C-suite roles, compared with 16.7% of entry-level roles. The article also shed light on the following: 

  • Some managers don’t realize that minority women often face extra hurdles to succeed. (This statement is hard for me to read, in this day and age, but it seems like an important one to acknowledge.)

  • Some upper-level and mid-level executives are also hesitant to promote women of color because it can feel like a risk. (See my comment above.)

  • We need to encourage colleagues from non-minority backgrounds to focus on diversity. (I agree.)
  • (Women of color) may be perceived as less competent in their primary roles because of the perceived time commitment of the “second shift” they take on when advocating for diversity. (Sigh.)

  • The burden shouldn’t be on women of color in leadership roles to be the only ones having this conversation. (Exactly.)

And so, I state this again: The path to equality is a journey, not a destination; there is no finish line.  This is a journey of intention coupled with action, that we must weave into our personal and professional lives on daily basis. We still, and will always, have work to do.

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I’m sharing a chapter in my personal story here, but not because this is about me. This movement is about an infinite number of beautiful people with underrepresented voices, and the accomplices who are also building momentum to lift us ALL up. I’m pushing myself to use my authentic voice, in hopes that it emboldens even one more individual to use theirs. My fearless goal is that we will all work together to lift each other up; to amplify our voices; to take another step on our path towards equality.

If you would like to demonstrate your solidarity with our movement, please join us. You can find us on  Facebook and Twitter. For those of you who use Salesforce, our greatest presence is in the Power of Us Hub. If you have time and/or skills to lend, please consider volunteering, and fill out our volunteer form. Keep the fire burning.

We would also LOVE to Amplify your authentic voice and your story. Please follow this link to submit a guest blog post.

Onward!

With love,

Marisa