#HearHerStory: Yari Blanco

Interview with Sr. Manager of Culture and Diversity at The Wing

In this interview with Let’s Hear It, Yari talks about her work at The Wing and offers advice and insight into what it means to be a modern woman.

About Yari

I am the Sr Manager of Culture and Diversity for The Wing, a women’s community and co-working space. I get to impact change both internally and externally, by working with our teams on things like programming and new space openings. It’s exciting to be a part of a company that’s being intentional about inclusion and diversity from it’s inception. There’s not that many of those out there, and it makes a difference long term both for the culture of the brand and for the business.

Interview Q&A

How do you feel about being a woman in your place of work? I’m lucky to work for a company founded by two women, who employs women. So the sisterhood is real. I feel very blessed! We can talk about things that would be considered a no no at any other company.

How do you feel about the gender gap industry-wide? It’s wack. It’s extremely frustrating to know that your financial growth is attached to your gender and not to your abilities in getting a job done. And it’s more frustrating that it’s public knowledge and things aren’t changing quicker.

What are some experiences you had in college that allowed you to advance your career and personal interests? Honestly, joining my sorority, Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc. changed my life. I know that sounds intense but it’s true. As an undergrad I learned about leading a chapter and I got to visit different campuses and meet other people my age. When I graduated college, it was through a fellow greek that I met the person who gave me my first job in media. When I moved to LA for work, it was through a sorority sister that I found a roommate. The continued emotional support I’ve gotten from my chapter sisters is first class. And joining my organization is part of the reason why I am committed to making women’s lives better, especially women of color.

How did your outlook on women in the industry change since you were in school? I always thought I’d be an entrepreneur, but never knew how that would even manifest itself. Now I know so many women who are building their own thing, that it’s easier to problem solve and collaborate on projects that continue to feed that entrepreneurial spirit. That did not exist in college for me.

How have you tried to support the women in your life? I share my resources with not just my friends but with women who reach out to me. I am proactive about not having a crab in a barrel mentality, and know that giving to someone does not take away from my own blessings.

What advice do you have for women starting a job at a new company? Learning company culture takes time, so do that… take your time. Nothing puts people on edge more, than when someone comes in like they own the place… unless it’s an executive who was brought in to make changes. But you’re there to learn, allow yourself time to meet other co-workers, learn about other teams and ease into it.

What advice do you have for women trying to negotiate an offer or promotion? Just ask. I didn’t start to negotiate until I was 27 years old. I remember reading something like statistically if you hit your 30s and have never negotiated your salary you’re likely to stay within that pay range… don’t quote me, but I found that alarming. And I know it’s extremely intimidating and uncomfortable, but you deserve more money. So, if you have no one to help you formulate how to ask, here’s Sheryl Sandberg. The hiring manager always has a range to work with, even if it’s an extra 5k. If money is a no and they can’t swing it, see if you can negotiate other things like working from home once a week, more vacation days, or covering your gym membership.

What are some passion projects you love working on? My only passion project, which is a legitimate brand at this point, is theGIRLMOB. A platform I launched two years ago with the help of some amazing women that is dedicated to bridging the communication gap through storytelling between women of color. It’s been incredible to see it grow and to see the impact we’re having on women.

Who do you look up to for inspiration? I’m a really big fan of Michaela Angela Davis, Tracy Ellis Ross, Rosario Dawson and Bozoma St. John.

What is some career advice you would give to younger women? A few things… If you build it, they will come. And if they don’t come, you get to build something else. You’ll always be your biggest critic, watch what you say to yourself, you might end up believing it. And no one knows what they’re doing, they’re making it up as they go along.

Be sure to follow Yari as @theyariblanco.

The Wing is a network of co-working and community spaces designed for women. The Wing’s mission is the professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women through community. Be part of the community and follow @the.wing.