Theresa Torres: Refocusing the Lense of Inclusion

By Andre LaFontant

From her senior roles in Campus Recruiting and Diversity at Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, to Director of Staffing and Employment Brand at Verizon, Theresa Torres has accrued a vast scope of knowledge in addressing the challenges that face corporate America’s Diversity and Inclusion arena. Having recently brought her wealth of experience into her own companies, Beso del Sol, LLC and JOTA Consulting, LLC, Torres has maintained her commitment to shaking up old business paradigms and creating more holistic workspaces.

Founding her own business shed new perspectives on the potentials of talent directed corporate roles. Explains Torres, “If they [women] didn’t have all of the experience or all of the background that the role required, [companies] would be apprehensive and say that the candidate is not ready. This experience over the last two years has smashed through that [outdated view], enabling me to understand that no matter what, if you’re smart you’re going to learn, and you’re going to be able to create what you need in whatever role you’re in.  You just need to be motivated.”

The key to channeling this motivation lies in companies not bowing down to the dominant norms that hinder potential growth. She suggests, “companies who build a culture that allows for everyone across a multitude of differences to contribute, have their ideas valued, and feel connected to their colleagues are truly the winners in diversity.”

Torres knows that there is more to inclusion than what has been commonly perceived. “We have to remember that inclusion does not mean assimilation. Inclusion does not mean submission, and it does not mean that the dominant norm–even if you can assimilate into that--is what needs to [remain such].”

A continual pushback of established norms is what will ultimately lead to the change that is needed in Corporate America. “People have to feel okay that they can speak openly without it [their expressions] being career limiting…feeling comfortable enough that they can trust that if they say something, or bring up an idea, it’s not going to be ridiculed. When you actually have those ideas flowing…that’s collaboration and innovation,” asserts Torres.