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News & Blogs: Women & Diversity

What my Millennials taught me

Wednesday, July 22, 2015  
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By Marie Quintana

I spent the last two years embracing change at lighting speed — some of it good, some of it full of growing pains. Life brought changes that touched every aspect of my being — relationships, career, parents, kids, even my dogs.

Life changes trigger life retrospection, which eventually leads to reprioritization of what we value. As a result, I now find myself taking more time to focus and understand more of the "why" behind the "what" of every experience that comes my way.

Related: Latina leaders: why Millennials are key

I would never have imagined that in this stage of my life I would be sharing my home with my 24-year-old daughter and my 24-year-old niece. But this change has enlightened me in so many unexpected ways.

I initially thought of this arrangement as an opportunity to share my wealth of life experiences with these recent college grads. Life, though, had a different plan.

Over the last two years these young ladies imparted their wisdom to me. This turning of the tables exposed me to new ideas that forced me to reconsider my viewpoints, which eventually changed my behaviors. Shouldn’t this have been the other way around?

We are three Hispanic career women, close-knit roommates sharing our thoughts, opinions, recommendations and recipes while respecting each other’s uniqueness. My daughter and niece have taught me to eat healthier and work out more consistently. They've helped expand my music tastes and palate, introduced me to new brands I wouldn't have tried and influenced my store choices.

On the business front, my roommates have experienced difficult situations. I marvel at how they solve them through their authentic confrontation and persistence to get the situation resolved. There is no time in their lives for unresolved office politics. They live out their experiences through authentic conversations and expect others to do the same.

Their diverse thoughts and actions are evident in every aspect of their being. For them, diversity training is living every day by embracing others with differences. In fact, they prefer to have friends and co-workers that are diverse because they want to learn and celebrate other people’s different experiences.

The Millennial generation is the most racially diverse generation ever. In Generation Z, multiracial children will be the fastest growing youth segment in the country. New York-based consultant Sparks & Honey describes Generation Z like this: "They were raised in an American education system that focused on mainstreaming and classroom diversity. As a result they are collaborative team players.”

As these two generations continue through adulthood I hope their diverse backgrounds create and sustain more inclusive communities and organizations. I have great expectations for this next generation of women leaders as they stand tall and show us that diversity is not just who they are, but what they stand for.

Marie Quintana is president of the Quintana Group, a consulting firm working with leading companies and brands to define, refine and implement business strategies to maximize sales results. Previously, Quintana spent 14 years with PepsiCo Inc., most recently serving as the senior vice president of PepsiCo multicultural sales and marketing. A past NEW Board member, she was named one of the "Top Women in Grocery” by Progressive Grocer and is featured in the bookThe New Woman Rules.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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