Alfredo Del Cid ‘11 promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion for many organizations across the country. As the Head of Learning and Development for Collective- A DEI lab, they help make the workplace a better place for all. Del Cid demonstrates the power of difference through their work at Collective- A DEI lab and consultancy. Through their time at UC Santa Barbara, they quickly learned what it meant to have a platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ people, people of color and those historically at the margins. As a Gaucho, they discovered the importance of teaching others what it means to create inclusive cultures where everyone can belong. With a pinch of sparkle, and a dash of curiosity and a big serving of empathy, Alfredo strives to create more than just an inclusive workplace, but an inclusive world.
Collective, a modern DEI company, helps organizations build cultures that attract, engage, and retain underrepresented talent, while making the workplace a better place for everyone. Through assessments and strategies, change management, and relevant, transformative workshops, they’ve helped hundreds of amazing teams weave inclusion into the DNA of their organization. More information on their website.
In honor of Pride Month, we virtually sat down with Alfredo to learn more about their professional life teaching countless people how to create inclusive spaces through the power of transformative care.
What were you involved in at UC Santa Barbara that prepared you for your professional future?
I was a transfer student and when I was at my junior college, I had to work full time to afford a university transfer. I knew that when I went to my 4-year school, I wanted to get involved in as many things as possible. To start, I arrived at UCSB and didn’t quite understand the purpose for all the resource centers because I was never exposed to the importance and need for spaces like them. A friend of mine took the time to lovingly explain why they mattered so much and I left that conversation eager to learn more and get involved.
With that conversation and desire to get involved, I joined the UCSB Rowing team, A.S. Queer Commission, A.S. SCORE, A.S. Legislative Council, and worked on campus at Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, or RCSGD. With Rowing, I had to be up at 5:30 in the morning for practice everyday. I kept that with me as I am very punctual and love to start my days early. Being a part of the Legislative Council, I had to work with folks with different points of view and it taught me to find a middle ground and create compromise when it needed to happen. RCSGD was the foundation that started my love for teaching and creating a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion. I got to push my own boundaries while working there to understand more of what it means to be inclusive. I see all of these things as skills I have translated into the work I do.
How did your BA in Sociology and LGBTQ Studies influence your position as Head of Learning & Development at Collective -a DEI Lab and Consultancy?
This might sound like a cliche but it's true what they say: teachers are some of the most important people in your life. I had some amazing faculty at UCSB that really challenged me, pushed me, and did not let me take the easy road.
I spent the last 12 years in the DEI space of higher education to research and support staff, faculty and students. My passion to create great learning environments came from my experience with faculty at UCSB. Professor Leila Rupp in the Feminist Studies Department was one of those people that would push the class to expand our thoughts and be creative. She would make us think deeper and encourage us to ask the why. Professor Horacio Roque Ramírez from the Department of Chican@ studies pushed me to always move theory into practice. How can we shift from only the conceptual and move towards the real-world implications and application?
Specifically, with my Sociology degree, I took a variety of courses and I could combine different learnings from different classes. I was already growing a habit to learn in an intersectional way. I would take my readings from my Chican@ studies and bring them over to use in my Sociology classes.
What is one tip you can provide to the readers to approach difficult conversations about inclusive work cultures?
I love that you ask this question because this is one of the most common questions I get asked by clients. Oftentimes people miss out on deepening and strengthening relationships because they’re afraid to lean into discomfort and have challenging but needed conversations.
The number one thing we must get comfortable with is vulnerability. It’s common for people in leadership roles to feel the pressure to never make mistakes or have all the answers. This is what I have coined as the infallibility threat. Because of this, they shy away from leaning into the discomfort. And you can't have diversity, equity, and inclusion without that vulnerability to say “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake, how can I do better?"
Make mistakes and provide yourself and others grace. A while back, I was with a group of university students and someone used a term that is not inclusive to refer to a group of people. The other people in the room stared at them, almost ready to kick that person out of the room. I paused and asked them “How can we change this moment and create a learning experience from this?” Chastising will only lead to defensiveness and ignorance of what went wrong. Instead we explained why the term is hurtful and how it can have a negative impact on those at the margins. The individual apologized and explained they had grown up using that term in their family and committed to not using that word, doing better and learning more. It’s in those “aha” moments that change really happens.
As an experienced DEI practitioner I still make mistakes but I use the opportunity to learn, correct and grow. This is what the work with Collective and DEI is all about, continued growth, vulnerability holding space for each other with care and grace.
You believe, “ Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a process and a goal.” How does your work make this process and goal accessible to others?
We have been thoughtful in how we frame the work in my company and with my clients. We start by saying we must have grace in the process. We must go into this work with curiosity. For it to be a process, we must understand this is a forever-journey. I like to tell people that if someone tells you they’ve arrived, they never make mistakes and have it all figured out, that’s probably not someone who understands DEI.
Terminology evolves and we are constantly changing. We discuss the term “Latinx” with people around the world; something we were not exposed to 10 years ago. We can not be complacent and believe we know it all. I had a really great conversation with Dolores Huerta, someone I consider an elder in the community and advocate for the Farm Worker's Rights Movement. We talked about why she did not use the term “Latinx” at the time. She told me that she understands the inclusivity of the word but years ago, she had to fight for women to be a part of the movement. So for her, “Latina” held great power for her stance as a woman. A great example of leading with curiosity so I can learn more.
One of my mentors, Sabrina Kwist ‘01 always says, “Do you want to feel right or do you want liberation?” Because we can sometimes be so self-righteous as individuals, we end up missing opportunities to bring people in and move forward together.
Tell us more about your speaking engagements across the country with national organizations, including the National LGBTQ Task Force.
The LGBTQ Task Force conferences are some of the largest gatherings of LGBTQ+ folks. In addition to their conferences such as Creating Change, they are also a national organization that has an educational arm, an advocacy arm; basically they are involved with every aspect of the LGBTQ+ movement. I work closely to support many of their initiatives.
With any public talks or workshops I give, I make sure that there is always a practical aspect to it. I am a lover of pop culture and I make connections with our culture and DEI. A lot of times, I see these speaking engagements happening in a philosophical environment. Like my parents, some may not have that philosophical vocabulary but live with inequality everyday. So one of my goals is to intertwine the bridges so it's a collective understanding.
At the National Conference of Race and Ethnicity, I spoke about humanizing our heroes and going back to this idea of infallibility. We often see these DEI champions as these untouchable perfect figures that we must strive to be. When we think about Marsha P. Johnson or Cesar Chavez we venerate them as models to follow. While striving to be like these champions, many people hold this pressure on themselves to never make mistakes. We must see them as multi-dimensional beings outside of the textbooks and posters so we can give ourselves grace as well.
What other organizations do you work with to advance and protect the LGBTQ+ community?
I sit on the advisory board for the LGBTQ Victory Fund. They are responsible for getting LGBTQ+ individuals elected to public office. For example, the Victory Fund was involved in Pete Buttigieg’s spot on Biden’s cabinet. On top of that, the Victory Fund was heavily involved with the first trans-identified assistant secretary on the Cabinet.
Directly speaking to my work with Collective and to celebrate Pride Month, we are launching a suite of workshops and keynotes. We pride ourselves in creating offerings that are not dry and boring but rather get folks excited and inspired to take tangible action. I am hosting a keynote called, “Work to Werq:” What a Little bit of Glitter and a lot of Courage Taught me about Thriving at Work. I will discuss my personal journey with my gender identity and fluidity. We also have some great sessions on rainbow-washing and how to shift actionable solidarity. I am also excited for the opportunities in the near future to continue helping create spaces where everyone can truly shine, sparkle and belong!
We were honored to speak with Alfredo in honor of Pride Month