This is the third post in my “Leading Ladies” series. I am excited to present Ms. Lexie Forman-Ortiz, Community Manager Extraordinaire forSmartRecruiters. Fresh voice and friend to the Social HR blogging space. Watch her do her thing on Twitter @LexieFO.

When we think of what it means to be a, “Leading Lady,” there are the obvious trailblazers of the XX chromosome kind.  Susan B. Anthony fighting for our right to vote, Marie Curie the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Rosa Parks changing the tide of the Civil Rights Movement, the Oprahs, the Mother Theresas, the list goes on. But then there are the unsung heroes too. These are the women we grew up with, our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, and friends.

Leading Ladies of the 21st Century are women who have it all, and get to be proud of it.

My paternal grandmother raised four boys as a single mother in San Francisco during the 1960s. My maternal grandmother left Nicaragua with her family for political asylum, when she got to San Francisco she made a life for herself and her family despite her immigrant status. She raised four girls, and operated almost everything behind the scenes of my Grandfather’s business endeavors. Leading Ladies? Of course they are. But they didn’t have the opportunities we do now. Career options were limited, and if they were rightfully pissed about their status as second-class citizens who would listen? Today, all we have to do is blog about it or tweet; suddenly we have the entire world as our audience.

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My career has only just begun, before working at SmartRecruiters I had held a series of part time jobs, but never anything I have felt as invested in as this. I started at SmartRecruiters as an intern.  After a few months, the growing company created a position for me and I became the Community Manager. That’s not to say it was easy. I was supposed to be coming in part time, but soon it was 5-days a week. I took on responsibility that I would argue most interns don’t get a chance to even think about. At SmartRecruiters they trusted me and empowered to take part in the company’s brand regardless of the fact I was an intern. This is upward mobility, something that my Grandmothers even my Mother were not able to achieve so easily if at all.  Today we have the opportunity to work hard and know that it will propel us to whatever place we want to be.


I’ve never felt like anything has held me back.

As a minority and woman, I felt like I had something extra to prove to earn my place but it felt more like motivation than anything. I think we are getting to a place where we no longer have to have the chips on our shoulders about getting recognition or what we deserve. My entire life I have been given choices about what I wanted my next move to be. My biggest struggle has been options. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Ladies we have arrived.

Really we’ve always been here, but now we get to say something about it. I am lucky to have come from a line of such strong willed women. Throughout my childhood, my Grandmothers constantly pushed me to be the best I could be. That may sound cheesy, but it’s true and it’s what made me who I am. They wanted more for me than they had for themselves. My paternal Grandmother passed on the strength she has it takes to raise three boys all alone, constantly showing me what independence looks like even in the face of adversity. My maternal Grandmother taught me empathy, and dedication, she taught me the importance of listening first and reacting second. Being a leading lady is easier for me today not only because the social climate has changed, but because I had role models to show me how to get here.

Each generation of women in family has found away to rise above the circumstances of the prior. We have a firm tradition of building each other up. My Mom became a department chief without finishing college; her example of hard work came from generations before her. My Mom gave me the strength and confidence to push for college, and set out to get whatever job I wanted. If growing up in a family full of strong women has taught me anything it’s that the best thing we can do for women as a whole, is empower one another. What I have come to learn is that we can only gain from teaching each other, and sharing our knowledge and experiences. There’s no room cattiness because we’ve worked too hard on our way up to tear each other down.

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