Costin’s stall, speculated on public
reaction to Simpson’s acquittal.
One woman predicted riots in the
neighborhood where many African-Americans lived.
Costin deliberately exited the
stall, managed to smile at her
colleagues, gave a quick “hello” and
washed her hands before leaving.
Neither of the women reacted to
her presence. Costin, however, calls the offensive remark “an ex-
ample of problems in the world that aren’t solved in a workplace.”
She believes that senior executives can cultivate more racially
sensitive and inclusive environments by encouraging employees
to disclose these kinds of incidents to their supervisors. “You
need to have compassion for the fact your employees are experi-
encing the problems of the world and experiencing events per-
sonally,” she says. “Diversity is about dignity. Too often, we do not
talk about race in the workplace. To retain talented employees,
you need to acknowledge problems and have the dialogue.”
Costin also encourages mid-career lawyers and other employ-
ees “who have seniority and political currency to speak up. Open
doors for other people.”
She and other legal chiefs say that young minority lawyers
shouldn’t bypass in-house jobs in the tech sector just because
they might be the sole, nonwhite person in their department.
Kang, who is vice president and general counsel of Camp-bell-based AOptix Technologies Inc., which provides wireless
communications and mobile network solutions, recalls how she,
her brother and sister were the only three Korean-American kids
in their Chicago-area school.
“Many of us grew up in places where we were the only one of
our racial group,” Kang says. “Go in and show them how skilled you
are. Show them you belong there. Change the industry. You can’t
effect change if you aren’t in the workplace. If you can help change
the culture, that can be quite a legacy that you give your company.”
Cabrera, who’s now senior vice president and general counsel
of NVIDIA Corporation in Santa Clara, Calif., hasn’t endured the
same level of marginalization his Colombian-American father did.
But he manages a hearing impairment. Cross-talk at meetings can
prove tough to keep up with. Cabrera supplements his hearing aid
with lip reading at the visual computing company.
“Everybody has an aspect to their lives that could make them
a target for discrimination or singling out,” Cabrera says. “My
advice to others is think of differences as a blessing. Be who you
are. These differences can drive a corporate culture in ways that
change the status quo for the better.”
Opportunities Near and Far
Although the tech domain is often associated with Silicon Valley,
the industry thrives elsewhere, too.
Rachel Gonzalez knows this firsthand. Last fall, she joined
Sabre Corporation in Southlake, Texas, as its executive vice
president and general counsel. Gonzalez notes that the technolo-
gy solutions provider to the travel and tourism fields “is growing
fast, and for the past 20 years, my work has supported corporate
and commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions and
Two years ago, Gonzalez was promoted to GC of a packaged
foods company in a neighboring city but found the Sabre oppor-
tunity “an irresistible proposition.” The move marked her return
to the tech realm; she held an in-house post at a third Texas
company prior to 2008. Like other legal chiefs interviewed by
Diversity & the Bar, Gonzalez enjoys the field because technologi-
cal advances can constructively disrupt and transform daily life.
Anderson and Green, meanwhile, believe the power and influence of technology have captivated the disadvantaged students in
Wisconsin, two of whom still correspond with Anderson.
Green, the Marquette administrator, hopes to send another
cohort of youths to Silicon Valley this summer and for the Digital
Discovery Tour to occur annually. He is seeking university funds
to cover travel costs that Anderson underwrote last year for
students and three Marquette staff members who were chaperones. Green wants students to tackle research projects during
the academic year so that the digital tour becomes a capstone
Back in California, Anderson eagerly monitors the young
people’s job search direction. “Tech companies are always
looking for bright people, and there is tremendous opportunity,”
he says. ■
A former reporter for the Houston Chronicle and Fort Worth Star- Telegram, LYDIA
LUM ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer and editor.
Everybody has an aspect to their
lives that could make them a target
for discrimination or singling out.