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photo: iStock
For some Latinas, there comes a time in their professional career where they've felt as if they've had to tone down their "Latina-ness" — we know, not a word — in order to fit in at work. Whether it's not speaking as much (or any) Spanish at the office or keeping gesticulations to a minimum. If it's any comfort, you aren't alone. For Colombian-American Stephanie Rodriguez the memory of a co-worker asking her to turn down the Spanish music she was playing at her desk still makes her upset. 

"Apparently she thought it would make patients and other colleagues uncomfortable," the 26-year-old says, "But the funny thing is, she never asked the girl who played Z100 to lower her music. Being the only Latina in the office, how else could I feel. Right?"

Rodriguez picked her battles wisely, lowered down the music, and eventually turned it off completely — a decision she often regrets because she felt as if she should have said something. Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated issue. 

In fact, it's part of what motivated author and consultant Mariela Dabbah to launch the Red Shoe Movement, a unique company focused on career and leadership development run by a supportive, diverse women all focused on professional success. Fun part: Dabbah invites women to wear red shoes to work as a way to show their commitment to support other women

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career-advice-for-latinas-workplace
photo: Courtesy of Mariela Dabbah

"For Latinas who think they come off as 'overly passionate' and don't think they fit in at work, the first thing you have to do is identify your own style (you know, what makes you awesomely different) and then the company's to find that happy medium," she says.  

Then do a bit of adjusting because everything in life is a bit of a compromise. Maybe it's turning down the Spanish music just a bit at work, but not backing down if someone asks you to not speak Spanish to another co-worker. Maybe you want to add a little flare to your work outfits that really speak to your personality so that you feel confidence. You can own who you are without feeling like an imposition. Only after you've really given it your all is when you should ask yourself the toughest question: Is this company the right fit for me? Sometimes it better to move on.

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The Red Shoe Movement is having their yearly conference in New York City on November 9, and the itinerary is nothing short of impressive. Plus, they will have round tables on engaging with men in your career and embracing assertiveness — because, yes. 

"This isn't like other conferences where you come to absorb information from others, it's an exchange because everyone from entry-level positions to CEO's can learn from one another," the Argentine-American says. For young women out there like Rodriguez, this type of insight and powerful networking are what make the Red Shoe Movement so worthwhile. 

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"If I ever come across another co-worker who is asking me to change something about myself and it makes me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, I want to know how to handle that situation with poise and still be assertive because I know now what she did wasn't right," Rodriguez adds.