By Evan J. Cutts
Rosa Nuñez, MBA understands that building effective and sustainable diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) systems is “not for the faint of heart,” she comments. “My goal is to help Foley Hoag lead the pack in the DE&I space and be an employer of choice.”
A career DEI professional with 18 years of experience in the IT, media, communications, and legal industries, Nuñez has witnessed many evolutions in DEI. As the Foley Hoag’s first Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, she is responsible for developing, implementing, leading, and championing proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and programs aligned with Foley Hoag’s overall strategic plans.
“Being a CDO or DE&I professional is a very demanding career that requires a high level of passion, determination, emotional intelligence and courage,” she says. “It is no secret that the legal industry has fallen short and has a long way to go to advance DE&I. However, we have seen a real push to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion across the industry in recent years.”
What is essential to maintain forward momentum, according to Nuñez is “to recognize that the path to an inclusive industry is not linear. There will be setbacks, but we need to keep moving forward by listening more, talking less, and investing in the areas that matter most to our people.”
For Nuñez, her journey into legal practice was not a linear path either. She immigrated to the US as a teenager from the Dominican Republic and went on to pursue an arts degree from Fordham University. A few years later while earning her MBA from the University of Phoenix, she began her professional DEI career at Accenture.
“My journey immigrating to the USA made me acutely aware of the struggles of those who feel othered in a dominant culture; I have often found myself in positions where I was “the first and only” and did not fit the norm,” she explains. “[That’s why] I have always had an exceptional place of respect and admiration for Frida Kahlo. Frida broke many barriers as a woman artist to develop a unique and powerful voice by not following or trying to fit in any art movement of her time.”
“I have had to overcome many challenges to put myself on something resembling an equal playing field. I have personally experienced the impact of racism and discrimination, which has motivated me to pursue this career path and help tear down such obstacles for others.”