Her.Story featuring, Rosa Hires, Manager of Community Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility at Whirlpool Corporation. Rosa talks about how she started out in aviation and as her life unfolded led her to a completely different career path. Read further to learn about her fascinating career.
Do you believe it is easier or tougher being a women leader in today’s business climate vs. even a couple of years ago? Why? What is the greatest challenge in the work environment today?
I believe women in the business world are trying to break down barriers. The overall climate is improving, but the greatest barrier that we face is ourselves. We can make the most impact as leaders by gaining self-confidence to view ourselves not only as women leaders, but as the leaders in our homes, our communities, and in our workplaces. Only then will the climate and our work environment change to catch up to what we already know, that women ARE leaders. This doesn’t mean we can’t influence the climate or make strides to change the work environment, but these changes take time. There are many variables we don’t control, and sometimes it is like turning a huge ship.
What obstacles or challenges have you faced, or even having your education in a space that I assume is fairly male-dominated?
As a kid, and wanting to be a pilot, I had many people, including family, try to lead me into choosing careers that are traditionally for females. Fortunately, my mother encouraged me to do what I wanted; she supported me during that tough time. Despite the people that doubted me, my inner dialogue was that I was good enough to do this, and I repeated the mantra I can do this!
Now that you are in community relations and social responsibility roles, how has some of your personal passion helped you drive your interest in this?
My upbringing focused on helping others. It is central to the teachings of my church. My mother encouraged volunteerism, and helping others gave me greater purpose in life. Jumping from aviation to community relations was seamless…I really wanted to explore what I could do in this space, and how I could be a driver of change in our community and our world. It has given me a platform to do that on a bigger scale than I ever imagined.
What is your perspective on the differences women and men display when handling or expressing our emotions?
Having grown up in New York City, you quickly learn how to be tough and resilient. This attitude serves its purpose at the time. As strong women, we tend to stuff feelings down rather than face them, but if you push that stuff down long enough it will surface at some point and affect every aspect of your life. We have so much pressure put on us: homes to maintain, families to hold together, the pressures of work, but the effects of ignoring those feelings will be crippling. Men have their own challenges as well, but they do seem to face their stuff and move from the feelings quickly. As a strong woman who is career-focused, it is sometimes tough to be kind to yourself and take the time to heal from whatever is going on.
Being a minority woman, are there any additional pressures you would like to speak to, and do you have any advice for other women?
I am part of our employee resource group for the Hispanic and Latino Network for our organization. ERGs started mostly as a social groups of like people. I have made it my personal goal to drive changes, where we influence business decisions with all the beauty of multi-cultural teams. Do not be afraid to bring cultural perspectives to any work project. Think about how you can empower under-represented groups? How will small changes resonate with those groups? Bring your authentic self to everything you do without apology. We all have rich cultures and experiences to draw upon which can only make our world better.
As you reflect upon My Career Matters, where does the greatest power of women supporting women come from for you?
My mother empowered so many women. She was a constant force of inspiration to build self-confidence but also to give that helping hand to others. As women, we are fortunate we have a lot of resources for women. I was very inspired by your company, Paragon Leadership, having a conversation with one of your coaches, Dyan. Knowing I’m not the only one facing struggles every day… and sometimes not being heard. It gives me actionable steps to take in my career and in my personal life. I think as women, we still haven’t unleashed the full power of working with each other. It’s my personal mission to be there for others, so together we can bring a change that we just haven’t experienced before.
To read the entire interview, click here: https://paragon-lead.com/her-story-rosa-hires-full-interview/