In our allyship with the women of color in the financial services industry and our membership, we are finishing out 2020 with a series of member interviews with FWSF’s women of color aimed at giving us a glimpse into their career journeys, spotlighting their challenges and successes. Janeth Medina Larios, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Bank of the West and vice president of diversity and inclusion at FWSF, is our next interview.
We hope this series will help provide insight into ways that we can all better stand together and be a strong support system to one another.
What was your career journey and how was it positively or negatively affected by being a woman of color?
“Arrimate al arbol que te de sombra.” This roughly translates to: Gravitate towards the trees that will provide you with the most shade. My father said this to me when I left home for college many years ago and he still repeats this to me to this day. It represents mentorship, sponsorship, community and support.
I have been incredibly fortunate to identify a strong support system of mentors and sponsors throughout my career and have benefitted from many exciting opportunities because of it. My first job out of college was in corporate security and although I knew that was not the career path I wanted to pursue, I looked at the opportunity as a springboard to what was coming next for me. When the time was right, I was able to break into corporate development and strategy where I learned a lot about large-scale enterprise-wide programs and the banking industry overall. As a woman of color, breaking into these spaces was a real wake-up call in terms of lack of representation. Often times, I was the only woman in the room. These groups and roles have direct access to executive leadership with people making important decisions, so I knew this was where I wanted to be to accomplish my career goals.
Can you talk about how important having a network is for a woman of color?
Having a support system is an essential part of professional growth and career mobility. I am very grateful to be a part of communities whose missions are to promote the advancement of women such as the Financial Women of SF, Latinos in Finance and Latina Vida.
Many people I respect and look up to are a part of these communities and have supported me in my career journey. I have met a lot of my mentors within these communities and have been very fortunate foster long-lasting relationships with amazing women and men that I can count on when I need advice about important decisions. A lot of the opportunities I have pursued have also come through these relationships.