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Balancing work and home: Kathleen's story

03 March 2020
Based in Houston, Kathleen Martinez is a senior director of national strategic relationships and executive director of the BP Global Foundation
Kathleen Martinez, Senior Director, National Strategic Relationships & Initiatives - Office of Diversity & Inclusion |  BP America Inc. 
Executive Director  |  BP Foundation Inc.
mobile: 713-538-4239 |  e-mail:  kathleen.martinez@bp.com
501 WestLake Park Blvd |  Houston, TX 77079

When she joined BP almost seven years ago, Kathleen first worked in Government and Public Affairs before moving to her current role, where she works in the office of Diversity and Inclusion. Kathleen says, “I'm passionate about my work as I have the privilege of leading BP America’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) national strategy, encouraging young students across the United States to pursue STEM education.”


Including diverse perspectives


When it comes to creating diversity in the workplace, Kathleen believes that having a range of points of view is key: “For me, balance in the workplace means ensuring that we have a balance of perspectives, a balance of ideas, and, most importantly, a balance of people at the table.”

A balance of perspectives helps businesses avoid ‘group think’ and results in better decisions, as Kathleen explains: “If you don't have diversity at the table, it's impossible to be inclusive, because you don't have the dynamic perspectives of stakeholders.”

“A truly inclusive workplace to me is more than a look, it’s a feeling. A feeling where everyone can bring their whole selves to work, a feeling of being listened to and heard.”


Balancing work and home


For Kathleen, it’s crucial to manage work and personal lives equally, something that BP has enabled her to do through flexible working: “Sometimes I really need to work from home to get more things done throughout the day and not be taken off track. I think that work-life balance and having the ability to work from home whenever necessary and having resources to be able to do that well, is something that really brings balance in the workplace.”


Kathleen adds: “I feel that balance is the quality of life and really taking each day and seeing the benefit of that. You can be wonderful at the office, but that’s not your only role.”


The confidence gap in STEM


When it comes to gender balance, Kathleen points out that men and women approach applying for roles differently: “There is a definite confidence gap. A study done at Cornell University found that men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both.”


To address this, what Kathleen advocates for is mentorship from an early age.

I’m particularly passionate about mentoring students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, girls specifically, because you can’t be what you can’t see! If a student doesn't have a STEM professional in their family or know someone in STEM – they may go through life unaware of these great career opportunities.
Balance for gender begins with us and needs a lot of advocates that are male and female who are being supportive of seeing more women get involved in STEM careers.

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