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National Hispanic heritage month: Top ways to recognize and celebrate

Danielle McClowSeptember 27, 2021Employee CommunicationEmployer BrandingRetention

National Hispanic Heritage Month in the US is celebrated annually from September 15th through October 15th in honor of American citizens' histories, cultures, and contributions whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. This year's theme is "Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope," emphasizing strength in unity.

To help celebrate the month, we wanted to have a Q&A between two LatinX members of our Symphony Talent team. Together, they share their unique celebrations and how being a member of the LatinX community shaped their work lives.

How to celebrate Hisanic Heritage Month at your organization

Read on to learn how to better acknowledge and celebrate within your organization.

Hispanic represents so many different groups, can you explain your background?

Ghislaine: For me, being Hispanic essentially means I'm a Spanish-speaking person living in the US, particularly of Latin American descent. Today, there are 20 countries whose official language is Spanish. Within each of those countries, there are regions with their accents, dialects, and cultures. That's why so many people from various continents and walks of life identify as Hispanic.

I am from Colombia. My mom's family is from South America. My dad's from Honduras, which is in Central America. My upbringing was impacted by both ethnicities differently. While certain customs, words, and traditions vary -- Spanish bridges the gaps! It connects me to my roots and my people.

How do you celebrate the month? Do you have any family celebrations?

Emily: I recognize and celebrate the contributions of Americans of Hispanic and/or Latino heritage all year long. For example, as an avid reader, I keep up with trends on the latest new book releases of Hispanic heritage authors. I enjoy reading or following the latest posts from Poderistas - a digital community that aims to inspire and empower Latinas. As a child, our family would also participate in our local community Hispanic Heritage Day parades as my sister and I belonged to a local Flamenco dance club.
How should organizations celebrate/recognize the month?

Emily: The easiest way is by acknowledging there is no right size fits all and to ask your Hispanic American workforce what would be meaningful to them.

You do not want to blanket cover celebrations. At Symphony Talent we discuss our celebrations and holidays as smaller teams, at our DEI employee resource group, and during company-wide gatherings. For example in this year's Employee Day celebrations, we had our employees and global offices come together to say "welcome" in their native tongues and shared videos and pictures from our unique backgrounds.
Can you share some of your experiences as a Hispanic worker in tech and/or HR?

Emily: My experience as a Hispanic person in the Human Resources space has been rewarding and quite useful. Given my Global People Leadership role, it has helped me be more understanding of the diverse makeup of our global teams, focus on ways to find unity and connection through our diversity while recognizing the need to continue to learn about global cultures and traditions to help drive meaningful employee engagement and an inclusive culture.
Ghislaine: To be frank, I haven't had the opportunity to lean into my cultural background in my professional career. In rare cases, I've been able to support clients that have bilingual hiring needs, having a unique lens on their target audience. I've even helped translate a job description!

However, I haven't officially leveraged my bilingual abilities.

Early in my career, I consciously tried to blend in. Spoke less expressively. Mindfully articulated to mask any colloquial accent. Straightened my hair.

These days, I know there's strength in being uniquely me. Sometimes I feel that my income would be greater if I were a white male, but I also understand it's my responsibility to ask for what I need. I'm getting better at that.

- Ghislaine Mendoza, Manager, Technical Account Management


How can organizations work to hire more Hispanic employees?

Emily: Listening and Learning - these are two key actions that come to mind. Given the wide range of countries and traditions represented in Americans of Hispanic and/or Latino heritage, it's essential to start internally by connecting with the needs of your Hispanic American workforce. For example, what are their drivers and support systems or flexible working arrangements they need to feel successful? Once you drive an inclusive and engaged culture, you can naturally leverage your existing workforce as your brand ambassadors while promoting employee referral programs.

Ghislaine: We can hire more Hispanic employees by identifying (i.e., in job descriptions) how they can leverage their multicultural and bilingual skillset. We can also connect with the Hispanic folks we already have in the organization and lean on them to tap into their social networks. We like to take care of our people so having a healthy and sustainable work environment is imperative. I wouldn't invite someone to work in a space where they wouldn't be genuinely valued.

How does the Symphony Talent Diversity Equity and Inclusion employee resource group celebrate the month?

At Symphony Talent, we recognize Hispanic Heritage Month in our monthly DEI newsletter, The Chromatic Scale Up. We've asked employees to share their reflections, including ways to celebrate, along with additional resources like books that speak to the intersection of Hispanic American culture along with Ted Talks.

- Emily Alvarez, Vice President, People Success


How can you incorporate diverse hiring practices? What are they?

Emily: Consistency and organizational awareness are two key components in driving diverse hiring practices. For example, build a consistent interviewing experience that should regularly be evaluated, shared, and communicated with hiring managers. Regularly assess your job descriptions to ensure requirements are clearly stated, job-specific and drop unnecessary clichés or jargon which may not resonate with diverse candidates.

Ghislaine: I think it starts with a welcoming employer brand, and it's punctuated by a job description that articulates how much we value diversity and strive for equality & inclusion.

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