Q&A with HRC’s Milagros Chirinos on International Women’s Day: Building a Welcoming Global Workplace

by HRC Staff

HRC is marking International Women’s Day by celebrating women advocating for LGBTQ equality around the world.

This year, HRC is marking International Women’s Day by celebrating women advocating for LGBTQ equality around the world. HRC spoke with Milagros Chirinos, associate director of HRC Foundation’s Global Workplace Equality Program.

How does the Global Workplace Equality Program work to advance global equality?

We work with local businesses, corporations and civil society leaders and organizations to grow equitable workplaces for LGBTQ employees around the world. 

Through two in-country programs, HRC Equidad MX and HRC Equidad CL, the HRC Foundation works to expand LGBTQ workplace inclusion by assessing practices and policies among major employers in Mexico and Chile. 

As the associate director of Global Workplace Equality, what do you see as the main parts of your role? 

Global leaders cannot implement what they don’t understand. My role is to help educate business executives and allies on the value of inclusive workplaces. Welcoming workplaces help companies retain the best talent and boost the potential and productivity of employees while generating a space for different perspectives and creativity. 

How can workplaces be more welcoming and inclusive of all their employees?

A great start resides in the implementation of inclusive policies and practices. Most inclusive employers embed best practices across their organization using tools like the Corporate Equality Index or HRC Equidad MX and CL surveys. Established policies can help guide an organization determined to foster a culture where diversity is fully embraced -- and real change starts when leadership fully embraces these policies. 

How does intersectionality inform your work?

Intersectionality plays a critical role in how I see people and the world in general. As an immigrant, LGBTQ ally and Latina woman, my understanding of diversity encompasses more than the traditionally established dimensions. 

I like to think of workplace diversity and inclusion as an effort that serves as a connecting bridge among people with completely different backgrounds —and even beliefs— who are able to work together efficiently and most importantly, in a welcoming environment that fosters mutual respect.

What does being an ally mean to you?

Part of my journey as an ally is to continue to learn and be informed about the ever-changing realities of the LGBTQ community across the globe. What is legal and embraced in certain parts of the world are penalized and discouraged in others; the disparities, however, should never prevent us from fighting for the full equality and safety of the global LGBTQ community. 

What makes allyship an exciting learning curve are the many ways in which we can help one another — from calling someone by their preferred pronouns to learning how language barriers can affect others. We all have something new to learn every day. And the more we know, the better prepared we are to help others. 

Who are some women-identified and non-binary leaders who inspire you? 

My mother is at the top of my list. As a widow and mother of four, she taught me everything I needed to know to be where I am — the world could use some of her kindness and compassion. Global leaders like Claudia Romo-Edelman, a Mexican-Swiss diplomat and advocate fighting for diversity and global causes; Michelle de la Isla, the first Latina running for Congress in Topeka, Kansas; Sarah McBride, a proud Delawarean and transgender woman running for the Senate; and truly, every woman and non-binary person out there trying to get ahead defying stigma, poverty, disabilities, immigration status and any other hurdles to live a fulfilled and purposeful life. 

This International Women’s Day, we are grateful for the contributions of women leaders like Chirinos and advocates around the world fighting for equality for all.