For Paulette Piñero, the sign that life would change came in the form of a Google document in 2018. The now proud LGBTQ+ Latina entrepreneur saw firsthand the empathy voids of executive life.

At the time, one of her direct reports told a department meeting that Paulette was a diversity hire and didn’t deserve a promotion. After crying fury, she spent hours reading and researching articles on managing difficult conversations and realized nothing had been written. At least, nothing about the lived experiences of Latinas navigating leadership and business growth.

That’s when Paulette Piñero decided to build a movement by Latinas and for Latinas to unleash their superpowers without shame.

In honor of PRIDE month, FIERCE spoke with Paulette about her experience, her work amplifying stories of iconic JEFAS, and the importance of diversity, equality, and inclusion.

Paulette Piñero from Unstoppable Latina.
Image used with permission from Paulette Piñero.

Blossoming as an Unstoppable Latina

Paulette Piñero is an award-winning social entrepreneur with over 16 years of industry experience. It’s easy to say, but her journey has been full of obstacles as well as many learnings. The branding company is dedicated to transforming the brands of Latina and gender-expansive entrepreneurs.

However, as someone who worked in business development for more than 16 years and now, with four years as a full-time CEO, Paulette knows a thing or two about elevating the voices of Latinas and LGBTQ+ folks.

Paulette Piñero offers marketing strategy services and free mastermind sessions every other month. She collaborates with organizations that provide business services to bridge the gap for LGBTQ and Latina-owned businesses to benefit from supplier diversity certifications.

This past year alone, she has had the opportunity to speak at Fortune 500 companies and universities about the collective power of Latina consumers. Paulette wants to dismantle the stereotypes about how Latinas invest their money.

But how do you do that as part of the LGBTQ+ community?

As a Boricua, bisexual and neurodivergent mother, Paulette Piñero knows well the intersectionalities of identity and the discriminations that come with it. Her identity guides the way she works and interacts with clients and collaborators. However, that goes beyond creating a world where everyone can exist and thrive.

“I see my marginalized experiences as the bare minimum of the change I need to advocate for, rather than the goal. As someone who used to do Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, I’ve seen how many well-meaning initiatives start and end with the lived experiences of the people making the decisions,” she told FIERCE. “Women groups advocating for women but forgetting the experiences of disabled folks. Or Latin-serving organizations launching programs in Spanish but never considering Portuguese or Haitian-Creole speakers as part of our communities. I do my best to push myself to think and advocate beyond my lived experiences, which is why I see justice work as a lifelong commitment.”

Paulette Piñero
Image used with permission from Paulette Piñero.

Still, discrimination is palpable

One of the biggest challenges Paulette Piñero faces is the erasure of her queer existence as a bisexual Latina. As this Jefa told us, for many years, she felt she didn’t deserve to be part of the LGBTQ+ community because her queerness wasn’t “queer enough.”

“Yes, I am extremely privileged to exist in both worlds, as a cisgender woman married to a man. But when I run away from my identity, I am closing the doors for others who don’t have the same opportunities,” she said.

Furthermore, her experience navigating her bisexuality and acceptance has had echoes in her professional life. As she told us, Paulette accepted an invitation to a show a couple of years ago to discuss the importance of supporting Latina entrepreneurs and leaders. While chatting with the host about her work supporting Latina and gender-expansive entrepreneurs, the host rebutted her comment.

“She then turned to me and said, ‘It seems like you knew deep down to do the right thing because you ended up married a man.’ Here I was, with 2 cameras recording, under excruciating TV production lighting, trying not to lose my cool and jump out of my seat,” Paulette remembered. “A successful Latina entrepreneur I admired, completely erasing me and my LGBTQ+ community. After a deep breath, I responded with facts and data and reiterated my commitment to elevating the stories of marginalized voices in our Latino community. She did not like that.”

“To be honest, that was the moment I realized that equity needs to come before diversity. Who cares if a Latina gains power and influence if her whole platform is closing the door to everyone who comes behind her?”

Equity before diversity? What does it mean?

Paulette Piñero is aware that the idea may not be popular. Still, to overcome the pitfalls in the corporate and business world, she believes that equity, in fact, must come before diversity.

“Before readers come over with pitchforks, please hear me out. The goal of equity is to provide every individual with the tools, opportunities, and resources they need to thrive,” she explains. “We cannot hear, respect, and create space for diverse perspectives without giving folks access to what they require to succeed. That’s one of the guiding principles for my business.”

At her company Unstoppable Latina, this manifests itself as free business content on its website and platforms. The idea is that people can access the knowledge, whether they can afford her services or not. From accommodations services for virtual chats to AI tools and subtitles, Paulette believes no initiative is too small. “To me, they are my ‘granito de arena’ to show others that we are all deserving of creating meaningful impact on our terms.”

Image used with permission from Paulette Piñero.

Bringing the true values of the LGBTQ+ community to the professional world

Finally, Paulette Piñero proudly carries her identity everywhere she goes. Her core values echo the fundamental principle that pushed the LGBTQ+ collective to establish itself as a beacon of hope. Community, joy, balance and justice are her pillars, which, to her, mean “to champion equity by actively being anti-racist and honoring our intersectionalities.”

Paulette has done so by helping clients regardless of any ideological differences they may have. After all, “our beliefs around equity, justice for the LGBTQ+ community, and passion for our work were stronger than the areas we didn’t connect about.”

In the end, it all depends on how you measure success. “I measure my success with clients by two things: when they feel like the CEOs of their business, and when the strategy we co-created allows them to disconnect from work,” Paulette said.

“My mission is to empower women of color and gender-expansive entrepreneurs to unleash their superpowers, share their imperfect stories, and create a meaningful impact on their terms,” she concluded. “There is so much power in telling your story. Telling our stories is not about showing others what we deserve. We deserve to thrive simply by existing. Speaking loudly and passionately about our experiences, what we’ve accomplished, and our mission is about giving courage to others. It is about using the privilege that we possess to expand our platforms to those who don’t have access to decision-making spaces.”