At LS&Co., our employees are constantly taking incredible actions to sustain our culture of inclusion and belonging. Our DE&I Champion series aims to celebrate, highlight and recognize individuals working to make an impact. This month’s featured champion is Marisela Gonzáles Ginestra, a finish designer responsible for bottoms and Trucker jackets in the global women’s denim business. Marisela also serves as the co-chair of our dynamic SOL (Hispanic/Latinx) employee resource group (ERG).
Here, Marisela shares powerful insights on the vital role of DE&I in design and product creation and issues an empowering call to action, challenging both LS&Co. employees and leaders to join the movement. Read on to see what she said.
Q: Share something about yourself that we wouldn’t know just by looking at you.
I am a second-generation Mexican American, born and raised in San Jose, California. I take great pride in being the daughter and granddaughter of California farm workers and ranch hands. Thanks to my family, I developed a strong affinity for Levi’s® products, making me a third-generation fan of the brand.
I am happily married to my high school sweetheart, Alex, who works as the Pottery Barn Kids’ playroom furniture designer, conveniently located across the street from Levi’s® Plaza. Together, we have two wonderful children — a daughter and a son.
Some other highlights of my life include working for my fashion idols, Rick Owens in Paris and Aitor Throup in London. On weekends, you’ll often find me enjoying time with my family at a local park, hanging out at a brewery or even crowd surfing at a concert.
Q: Why is DE&I important to you as a leader?
DE&I holds significant importance to me as a designer because our consumer base is diverse. By incorporating diverse voices in the product creation and development process, we can better serve our consumers by considering their lived experiences and meeting their needs effectively. Neglecting diversity and inclusion in our work would ultimately be a disservice to them.
In my current role, I am grateful to have the opportunity to integrate DE&I into my daily work. As a leader, I aim to ensure that everyone understands the company’s values, culture and available resources. My goal is to create an environment where my diverse colleagues feel comfortable without having to put in excessive effort. Those of us who are already part of the team serve as a testament to what is achievable and bear witness to the areas in which LS&Co. can further grow.
Q: What is your call to action for your fellow LS&Co. employees and leaders?
To my fellow employees, I urge you to find your community. Join an ERG and connect with others who share your moral or cultural point of view. Seek out mentors and consider joining external business organizations. It’s essential to have a consistent and safe space to rely on throughout your corporate journey. Trust your instincts, establish boundaries and remember that no one knows you better than yourself. LS&Co. encourages us to embrace our authentic selves, so let’s seize that opportunity!
To the leaders, I implore you not to assume that your experiences are identical to those of your diverse employees, even if you come from the same industry or have similar educational backgrounds. Recognize that many of us are the first in our families to venture outside our hometowns, work in corporate settings and navigate a world that is unfamiliar to us. Take the time to understand us, including our aspirations, talents and motivations. Your support is invaluable to us.