Accents

By Sofia Bonnet

DIversity at IBM

We all come from different backgrounds. We grow up in homes with traditions and vocabulary that are often unique. And while the world outside infuses us with its pervasive influence, our backbones are chiseled by those who raised us. They raised us in their native language, in their mother tongue, and with their lullabies — in my case, in Spanish.
The poem in this video by Denice Frohman is a gem. The author talks about the respect for her roots and even more, she is defending that same “difference” which others may see as “strange” or “foreign.”

To me, the best phrase in this poem is this one:
“Her accent is a stubborn compass, always pointing her towards home.”

I am a mother like the one the poet describes. My Mexican accent is evident when I speak English. Siri does not understand my commands. The voice recognition tools on the phone prompts never transfer me to the right person. My kids, who I taught and spoke to in Spanish since birth, now smile tenderly at me when I say “bus” and I mean “boss”… or vice versa.  My twin boys are teenagers growing in a house split in backgrounds: Mexico City and Boston, Massachusetts sit down at the same table when we are having dinner. Sofia and David, Sofeeah and Deivid.  At work, colleagues and peers are patient, and some even find it amusing when I speak. Some cannot follow my train of thought when I speak too fast. My accent makes others pay attention, and I am thankful for that. My words matter.

Accents image

I have been lucky to work for a company where inclusion and diversity are part of its history, like is the case for IBM.  Diversity is in its genes. And I get to enforce that every day with the teams that I lead and the leaders I influence. They are from everywhere. Choose a point on the globe, from Japan moving left all the way to England; from South Korea to Johannesburg. Qué suerte la mia!  (how lucky am I?)


This article was first published in LinkedIn
Sofia Bonnet is a Global Diversity and Inclusion Executive Leader at IBM.

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4 thoughts

  1. Hola Sofía!!!
    Indeed, you are so very lucky; I was so identified and moved by your comments on being raised thinking in Spanish but you had to develop and evolve in English. It is a real challenge, but one that also gives you joy and pride. Don’t ever loose your accent and my best wishes at thriving through two worlds that I like to think are like brothers.

    Pedro González

  2. Sofia, as you were mentioning about how lucky you are to be in IBM, I was reflecting also on my journey and I felt even more inspired as an IBMer! Congratulations for your text and the clarity to share that diversity is in every little thing in and around us!

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