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How should your company celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

The name aside, the month is an opportunity to learn about different cultures. Jai McBride Calloway of Old City people ops firm Exude offers tips for incorporating the month into your workplace.

A scene during a past year's Feria del Barrio from Taller Puertorriqueño. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philly)
This is a guest post by Jai McBride Calloway, the director of DEI at Old City-based people ops firm Exude, Inc. It originally appeared on Exude's website and is republished here with permission.

Editor’s note: Yes, the name itself is cringey, as NPR put it, and yes, prefers to use “Latinx” in almost all editorial cases. We like this explainer from Billy Penn: “Though the term ‘Hispanic’ is loaded with colonial and paternalistic connotations, the month also celebrates those who identify as Latina or Latino.”

Read Generocity Editor Sabrina Vourvoulias’ reflection on the month, including thoughts from nine local Latinx leaders. For a bonus lesson, let Pew Research Center tell you: “Who is Hispanic?

Since 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month has been nationally recognized from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 every year. These 30 days are meant to honor and celebrate all that the Hispanic/Latinx community have contributed to our society, and how they continue to do so every day.

The dates within this month of time are significant to this community all over the world. A few of these include:

  • Sept. 15 — The Independence Day of five of our Central American neighbors: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
  • Sept. 16 — Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810
  • Sept. 21 — Belize celebrates independence from Great Britain in 1981

In 2019, 60.6 million people in the U.S. identified as Hispanic/Latinx, making them the largest ethnic or racial minority. Since then, this number has only grown, making it more important than ever to celebrate this month and appreciate the diversity of our country.

Why celebrate in your workplace?

What makes Hispanic Heritage Month so valuable to society as a whole is its call to embrace diversity and acceptance in everyday life, which is why it’s so important to address as a company. The diversity within a workplace is what makes organizations so successful. Different people with different backgrounds and cultures bring their own experiences to the table and with this comes limitless opportunity for growth and development. Building awareness of what Hispanic Heritage Month is, educating employees on all the potential that comes from cultural diversity, and advocating for this inclusive culture will strengthen your team and raise awareness around building off of each other’s differences.

Four ways to celebrate

Every year Hispanic Heritage Month is given a new theme, and this year’s theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” Hope has been a relevant theme over the past year as we’ve dealt with the changes this pandemic has had in both our personal lives and workplaces. Whether your office is remote, in-person or a mixture of both, here are ways to celebrate this month:

1. Embrace the culture.

Whether it’s through reading an article about Hispanic heritage, watching a culturally relevant film, reading a novel written by a Hispanic/Latinx author, or recommending a visit to a local Hispanic/Latinx-owned restaurant, encourage employees to take time to learn about this culture in their own ways.

Reach out to your team with a few suggestions, receive feedback on a favorite idea or two, and engage in some conversation afterward with thoughts about the experience. This is a fun and educational option that can be done remotely or in-person based on employee preference.

2. Provide donation or volunteer opportunities.

There are many organizations dedicated to the Hispanic/Latinx community that are always in need of help and/or donations. Take some time to search for some local organizations to recommend, or take it a step further and reach out to one to consult about their specific needs and how your company may be able to help.

Asking for employee recommendations is also always a good place to start. Having a member of your team with a personal connection to one makes the cause much more meaningful.

3. Celebrate virtually with free events.

For the entirety of Hispanic Heritage Month, there are online events being held all over the country. Select an event for your employees to join in on and immerse themselves in Hispanic/Latinx culture for part of the day. These may also include activities that can be shared with employees’ families.

4. Educate employees on diversity and inclusion.

The overarching goal of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is to embrace the diversity that it has brought us. There’s always advantages to discussing this with employees, including promoting an inclusive work environment, increasing the productivity of your company with different kinds of teamwork and perspectives, and having a broader range of understanding for various types of customers.

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