Hi, I am Shirley Aldana . A diversity, equity, and inclusion researcher, advocate, strategist, and consultant in Austin, Texas.

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Help organizations champion policies and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion that empower and advocate for a just, inclusive, and equitable work culture.


Create an inclusive work culture by bringing together all stakeholders' diverse and intersecting backgrounds.


Maximize performance and increase revenue. How we do this is through assessments and organizational work climate analysis.

littleDecorMy Message

As a Guatemalan immigrant, raised in the United States, and as a mother with adult children of my own entering the workforce, the advancement of women and minorities and their intersect is not just a professional and academic passion, but a personal mission.

I have been serving my community since before my children were born, first as a youth volunteer in hospital settings and later in my children’s schools, in my church, and diverse organizations focusing on environmental justice, immigrant and civil rights. Today, I continue volunteering and serving on leadership boards.

My business acumen expands over twenty years of business experience in diverse fields including health and human services, community education, and nonprofit management.



U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) initiative: Eradicating Racism and Colorism f...

I came across the E-RACE initiative during the first semester of my MSW program at USC. I was doing some research for a social work policy class and wanted to focus on the intersect of social work and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion issues. You can read about the background and purpose of E-RACE by going to https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/initiatives/e-race/index.cfm.

The EEOC cases reviewed under the E-RACE initiative provided a wealth of data and a foundation for my argument that social work practitioners need be equipped to enter nontraditional spaces to fight against racial, gender discrimination and all its intersects, as well as end social and wealth disparities in vulnerable communities. 

The initiative was spearheaded by then newly appointed EEOC Chair, Naomi Earp in 2006, and it was put on the backburner when Ms. Earp left as the EEOC Chair. I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with attorney Paula Bruner.  Ms. Bruner was the EEOC E-RACE adviser-attorney, and currently works in the EEOC Office of the General Council. She volunteers to keep the E-RACE case studies section updated when time permits.

The impact of the EEOC E-RACE initiative is not well documented, however, there are several case studies, as well as the 2016 EEOC Report on Taskforce on The Study of Harassment in the Workplace[1] that suggest that several E-RACE initiative program outcomes may have come to fruition.

Following are findings in my own research that suggest that initiatives like the EEOC E-RACE are needed in order to keep workplace discrimination down.

In a 2007 interview with the National Public Radio ‘Tell Me More’ host, Michel Martin, Ms. Earp reported that the largest source of complaints that came before the EEOC were charges of racial discrimination, followed by retaliation charges for filing discrimination claims. Ms. Earp also reported that Black African-Americans file complaints more than any other ethnic group, and post-911 lawsuits based on religion, national origin and color had been rising exponentially upward (Martin, 2007).

According to the EEOC website, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against “employment discrimination on the basis of race and color as well as national origin, sex or religion” (EEOC, n.d.). However, even though race and color overlap, Title VII does not define “color,” charges of color discrimination can and does occur between different ethnicities, races or between same ethnic groups and racial identities including Caucasian Whites, according to Ms. Earp (Martin, 2007).

More recently, in the research study focused on the wellbeing of employees by Gwendolyn Combs and Ivana Milosevic found that “increased feelings of well-being among employees has been linked with great work performance, productivity and customer satisfaction” which has received attention among social scholars, however, the “connection between discrimination and workplace inequalities to the wellbeing of minorities” has not been part of that discourse.  Their research found that that members of “stigmatized groups (e.g., women, racial and ethnic minorities, and older workers) are more likely to experience discrimination compared to members of non-stigmatized groups and are more likely to be disadvantaged” with greater decreased levels of wellbeing, and at higher risk for health and mental health disparities (Combs and Milosevic, 2016).

Moreover, according to the EEOC archival data report, despite Civil Rights Act and Title VII federal compliance mandates ideation of racist beliefs continues to operate in employment settings.  Specifically alarming to the connection of discrimination and employee health outcomes was the prevailing incidents of discrimination charges.  They found that “from 2007 to 2008 [discrimination charges] rose to a record high of 95,402 (15 % increase). Charges reached 99,947 in 2011 with 99,412 charges in 2012. Race


charges comprise 33.7 % of all charges in 2012” (Combs and Milosevic, 2016; see Addendum A).  According to the ‘EEOC Charge of Statistics (Charges filed with the EEOC) Fiscal Year 1997-2017’ “race” discrimination charges dropped in 2013, 2014 and 2015[2].

Employers can promote workplace policies and protocols to ensure the wellbeing of all employees by recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse employment base that are culturally and competently trained to work with various populations, as well as create systems within the agency to address and reduce and or eliminate barriers to inclusion of historically marginalized and oppressed groups to participate in all levels of the organization or agency.  Budgetary and organization’s culture and limitations may be resolved by building coalitions with outside agencies like the EEOC and their state agencies, for training and strengthen collaborations with best practices in Human Resources Management (Feldblum, 2016; Turner, 2017).



Feldblum, C., Lipnic, V. (2016). Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. (United States, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace). Washington, DC: EEOC. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/

Fink, A. (2015). Evaluation fundamentals: Insights into program effectiveness, quality, and value (3rd ed.) [Kindle Reader].

EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2018, from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm

EEO-1 National Aggregate Report. (2011). Job patterns for minorities and women in private industry. https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/employment/jobpat-eeo1/2011/index.cfm#select_label 

EEOC. (2013). Charge statistics FY 1997 through FY 2012 http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforce- ment/charges.cfm

Martin, M. (Producer). (2007, June 28). EEOC Wants to 'E-Race' Discrimination in the Workplace [Television series episode]. In Tell Me More. Washington, DC: NPR. Retrieved May 20, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11502446

Turner, D., & Singletary, D. (2017, October 5). Ensuring Equality for All Californians in the Workplace: The Case for Local Enforcement of Anti-Discrimination Laws [A white paper produced by The Los Angeles Black Worker Center In conjunction with the National Employment Law Project]. In National Employment Law Project. Retrieved October 7, 2017, from http://www.nelp.org/publication/the-case-for-local-enforcement-of-anti-discrimination-laws-in-ca/#ftn57 

[1] https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/report.cfm#_Toc453686314

[2] https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm  

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Why Enlace?

ENLACE { pronounced en-laah-cé } is a Spanish-English cognate, or rather a word that has the same Latin or Greek root and its spelling and meaning are same or very similar in both languages.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (n.d.) ‘Enlace’ means to “interlace, intertwine, embrace, weave” (Merriam-Webster, n.a.). In Spanish, it means to “bond, link, connect, union, liaison” (Spanish Central, n.d.).

As a Guatemalan immigrant and a bilingual professional with over twenty years of business acumen in diverse fields, the word Enlace gives a profound meaning to my life and work experiences and observations in organizational cultures. Early in my professional career, I witnessed and experienced resistance to diversity, and inclusion in the workplace, from simple eye rolls to outright hostility if co-workers engaged in a non-English conversation.

I was raised by a single immigrant mother, she worked as a housekeeper and as a food service worker.  Her schedule flexed from early morning to late night hours, I won’t say she didn’t complain, but her work ethic was exemplary. Whatever was going on in our lives she showed up to work and put a roof over our heads, and delicious food on the table. She instilled in me the immigrant work ethic – a belief that if we worked hard we would get ahead, and that you give everything or none at all – A belief I have come to understand is rooted in a meritocracy myth.

Except that when I entered the working world, inclusion and accessibility was not afforded equally to everyone. On the one hand, had I not received the mentorship and support that I did from amazing women supervisors early on, who believed in me and nurtured and challenged me, I would not be where I am today.  On the other hand, as my skill set progressed and I grew professionally with more responsibilities the less mentors I had, and the more resistance and rejection I experienced.

As a bilingual, White-presenting immigrant woman of color with an almost non-existed accent (most of the time), equipped with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn and give it my all, I feel it was easy for me to get ahead and receive promotions, particularly after I returned to college in my early 30’s. However, my rude awakening and crash encounter with the ever-elusive glass-ceiling happened when I started wanting to grow more professionally and seek senior-level/executive positions about ten years ago. It was at a time I started pushing and advocating for more diversity and multicultural marketing education in a White male dominated industry.

Enlace Consulting was conceptualized out of an unequaled passion for the advancement of women, minorities and their intersectionalities in the workplace.  Enlace Consulting gave me the vehicle in which I could engage business and organizational leaders in courageous and genuine conversations around gender equity, diversity, and inclusion in their workplace.

In essence, Enlace Consulting is the liaison in which business and organizational leaders can link their organizational values with an inclusive and equitable diversity strategy that can help them maximize the potential of their most value resource, their human capital. While it is Enlace Consulting’s mission to help businesses and organizational leaders attract, retain and capitalize on a diverse workforce, it is also the vision and purpose to create an inclusive and equitable workplace where everyone is a valued member of the organization with the same opportunity for growth, development, promotion and compensation.

Enlace Consulting specializes in helping businesses and organizations embrace an inclusive and equitable business model that is also aligned with systems-change theory and trauma-informed practices that can shift organizational culture and policies and sustain improved outcomes by providing a road map to organizations willing to explore their potential and make a shift in the right direction.


Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Enlace. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enlace

Spanish Central. (n.d.). Enlace. In SpanishCentral.com dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from http://www.spanishcentral.com/translate/enlace

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Grand Challenges of Workplace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Actions for a Better Today

In 2016, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare initiated The Grand Challenges of Social Work, and within ten-years, it hopes to address and correct perpetual societal disenfranchising issues within three sectors: individual and family well-being, support paths to a stronger social fabric and just society.  Within these three overarching critical issues, they identified twelve social challenges to:

  1. Ensure healthy development for all youth
  2. Close the health gap
  3. Stop Family Violence
  4. Advance long and productive lives
  5. Eradicate social isolation
  6. End homelessness
  7. Create social responses to a changing environment
  8. Harness technology for social good
  9. Promote smart decarceration
  10. Build financial capability for all
  11. Reduce extreme economic inequality
  12. Achieve equal opportunity and justice

It is their collective vision to provoke thought and action on these critical issues affecting all of our lives and specifically those whose lives have historically been excluded and today continue to be over-represented in poverty, well-being and mental health disparities and homelessness to name a few.  In addition to defining what each of these challenges means and how they operate in our society, policy recommendations have been published for each of the challenges through multi-academic institutions collaboration and are accessible at www.aaswsw.org. It has been over three years since the Grand Challenges initiative was launched and there is still a vast unawareness of the initiative within and outside social work services.

It is my profound belief that the twelve grand challenges impact organizational cultures and their workforce on some level if not more. Following are issues I believe impact all levels of the organizational culture:

Getting On The Same Page and Reading of History.

For me, these social challenges are embedded in the preamble of our Constitution. I believe that the twelve challenges are not stand alone issues but are deeply connected , and that they are symbiotic systemic problems that take us back to the founding of this nation and the policies and laws that were formed to prescribe meaning and value to each of our lives, then and now.  For all of American history, some of us had more value, and therefore more rights and privileges than others.  We cannot allow history to perpetuate and continue as such.

The two issues that have continued to be prevalent in our society despite the Civil Rights Acts and Affirmative Action mandated efforts are racial discrimination and income inequality.   Civil Rights Era activist, philosopher, and writer, James Baldwin,  wrote prolific and spoke out publicly about the notions that America was a house built on an ideology rooted in demonizing others.  Baldwin was a truth-teller and an image evoker, and he saw America as a grand house built on a foundation cemented in ideologies rooted in slavery and fueled by an unchecked capitalist greed. A home built mostly with the help of people who did not fit the mold of "American" and relegated to the position of otherness, of not belonging, of strangers in their own home.

A few years back when I first heard the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” of then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump I couldn’t help but recall images of water fountains with “Whites Only” signs. While those types of signs have been long gone the stigma of otherness has lingered in peoples minds and perhaps hearts.  It seems that lately, I read about the many ways the President is acting on his campaign promises of immediate deportation of undocumented immigrants, building a wall, and the exclusion of Muslin refugees.  The recent DACA repeal and the numerous travel restrictions targeting Muslims along with attempts to regressing Obama era policies like the Healthcare Act, and marriage equality, and transgender service in the military are demoralizing.  As a former-child-undocumented Guatemalan immigrant and now U.S. Citizen, seeing ‘Keep America Great’ I worry about how far back can one individual, whose election and administration is celebrated by half the nation can rescind these protective laws?

While I may feel anxious about our political and social climate, I do not lose hope because I also read or hear of those individuals who are taking public stands, or take a knee, to denounce those deeply seeded xenophobic and nativist sentiments rooted in a frustrated White Supremacist ideology.  Yes, we will continue to fight and push back and frustrate all those whose belief system drives to create a supreme majority-ruling race.  As Americans, we cannot let that happen ever again.  It is one of the reason’s I was encouraged to reach out to my congressional district representative to find out what they have done or are doing to denounce divisive policies publicly and offer solutions.  Sadly, I live in a state where terms like diversity, equity, and inclusion are trigger words for my representatives. So, while my personal influence how I will vote next election, I profoundly believe that racial divide and disparities are a bipartisan problem that runs deep in all aspects of our society.


What Can Be Done to Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality & Achieve Equal Opportunity and Justice?

In a research study published in 2015 by JJ Rözer and Beate Volver in the Social Science and Medicine Journal, they found that income inequality is highly linked to poor mental health and well-being.  While their study focused on adolescents, they argued that the younger an individual experiences poverty the consequences on health and mental health may follow them through their lifetime. The study found three common threads in income inequality and poor health outcomes over a lifetime: relationships to others, segregated neighborhoods, and the third, which they called “neo-material pathways,” focused on policies measures. This last one was the result of low investment in public services that promote well-being such as healthcare, education, and housing.

Another study conducted by Beverly Araújo and Luisas Borrel and published in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science sought to understand the link between discrimination, mental health, and life chances among Latinos.  The evidence they found was overwhelming and indicative of the negative impact that discrimination has on the income levels, educational attainment and mental health outcomes. What was more compelling was that while Latinos as a whole did not experience discrimination at African-American levels, however, levels rose to African American levels when intersects such as immigrant status, level of accent, darker shade of skin, and gender were accounted.

These types of research studies are critical in informing us in ways we individually, as engaged citizens, and collectively as policymakers can impact change. Considering that the education condition of Latinos has improved according to the Factbook: The Condition of Latinos in Education published in 2015 by ¡Excelencia! in Education, an advocacy group, focused on Latino education attainment, Latinos held less than 2% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 Companies in 2015 according to the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, an organization that seeks to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America at a level equal to our economic contributions (¡Andale! Can I get an amen!?!). Before I get too excited as a Latina and woman of color my chances of a decent wage or a possible leadership position get even lower.  According to Catalyst, currently, Latinas hold less than 1.2% of Executive/Senior-Level Officials and Manager positions in S&P 500 Companies.

Ensuring economic equity and well being through enforcement of anti-discriminatory policies for all workers starts at a local and organizational level.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website has a comprehensive employment discrimination class action and other employment-related data archive. According to “Workplace discrimination and the wellbeing of minority women: Overview, Prospects, and Implications” a study done by Gwendolyn Combs and Ivana Milosevic found that class action “charges from 2007 to 2008 rose to a record high of 95,402 (15 % increase). Charges reached 99,947 in 2011 with 99,412 charges in 2012. Race and gender charges comprise 33.7 % and 30.5 % respectively of all charges in 2012.”  Class action charges dropped in 2013, 2014 and 2015. However, they rose back significantly in 2016, and today have stayed in pre 2008 levels. These statistics show that workplace discrimination is pervasive, also important to note and further research is needed to substantiate, that during the low incident reporting years the EEOC had launched E-RACE (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a five-year initiative, which sought to improve data collection and analysis and action, improve quality control, develop strategic modules to address emerging issues of discrimination, enhance the visibility of EEOC E-RACE efforts and engage and promote voluntary compliance of E-RACE.

In the fall of 2017, The Los Angeles Black Worker Center and the National Employment Law Project proposed that local elected officials enact alternative ways to identify and redress Civil Rights violations.  One way that local governments can assist, address, reduce and eliminate workplace discrimination is by offering training such as implicit bias that facilitates awareness of how systemic issues impact and inform us all as well as offer other outreach initiatives to employers.  They can also create coalitions with their local Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as well as with community-based organizations, which increases the likelihood of better access to workers in diverse industries and communities, and impact proactive and outreach and education.

What impact will have the most significance? Given the historical disenfranchisement and exclusion of ethnic and minority communities and the strides we have made toward inclusion in society, we live in a time where the threat to our well-being and future is real and not imagined.  The first significant impact we can make is to take a public stand and denounce the divisive tactics and reach across the aisle and offer solutions that will work toward a more equitable society.

How policies have informed and empowered me?  Coming of age as a Guatemalan child and undocumented immigrant in Los Angeles indeed exposed me to many forms of oppression, violence, and discrimination both at home, school, my community, and later at places of work.  While I did not have a language for those experiences then, I was able to overcome many obstacles.  I found ways to better my life, and later the lives of my children by trial and error but mostly through access and support of programs like free night school classes that helped me get my G.E.D. (General Education Diploma).  Programs like California AB540 encouraged me to get my A.A. (Associates Degree) and enrolled at Santa Monica College in 2001.  In 2007, I got accepted at the University of Southern California (USC), and I was able to continue my dream of a higher education through the tuition assistance that I received through my mother’s benefits as a USC permanent food-service worker.  I lost that benefit because of a change in policy in 2009 and had to put my academic studies on hold for several years.  In 2015, I received a full scholarship to complete my undergraduate degree. In May 2019, I graduated with a Master in Social Work, with the assistance of FAFSA and a few scholarships.

Currently, I am a first-year doctoral student at Adler University’s Industrial and Organizational Psychology Ph.D. program.  I received a fifty percent tuition discount as an AmeriCorps alumnus, and received a small Adler scholarship as well as able to qualify for a small FAFSA subsided loan.  Without the initiatives and policies in place both in the public and private sectors that afforded me these opportunities, it would have been almost impossible for me to pursue my academic and professional goals.

As a diversity, equity and inclusion advocate, strategist and consultant while pursuing my Ph.D. it is my hope to assist organizations take steps toward a more equitable, diverse and inclusive workforce.

For further consideration toward a better today:

  • Do any of the 12 Grand Challenges of Social Work impact your organization?
  • If not, what would the Grand Challenges of your organization look like?
  • If you list one or ten or more Grand Challenges who they impact the most?
  • Is your organization working or ready to work on improving the lives of those impacted by your organization’s Grand Challenges? How? And by when?

Reach out directly if I can assist your organization in answering one or all questions.

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Enlace offers services with the objective of helping enhance the organizational work culture to recruit and retain a diverse workforce that want to offer equitable and inclusive opportunities at all organizational levels.

littleDecorSeminar & Workshops

  • 101: Unconscious Bias
  • Cultural Competency and Diversity in Context
  • “In Search for Identity, Personal Liberation, and Authenticity” three-part DEI workshops
  • Creating Allyships
  • Establishing Diverse Workgroups and Building a Relational Culture Framework

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