Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is in full swing, and many in the industry have been celebrating since its start on September 15, which coincides with the national independence day of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. WICT reached out to a few members to learn more about the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, and how recognizing cultural holidays impact the workplace.
“My first thought was pride, not in a boastful or a bad way, but pride for our heritage and teaching others about it,” says Tiffany Vela, project manager, field operations for Charter Communications located in San Antonio, when asked about her initial thoughts on HHM. Tiffany is an active member in the WICT Greater Texas Chapter.
She notes that there are a variety of ways to celebrate, including films, TV, books, and even local events. San Antonio has a very large Hispanic population, according to Vela, who shares that there are many community outreach initiatives to celebrate the month. “I think all of those things help everyone to know that even though we’re different culturally, we’re still all the same,” she says.
This year Vela and her daughter, who’s in nursing school, plan to watch a short film on HBO, My Name is Maria de Jesus, which was created by a San Antonio filmmaker. “It’s about the Americanization of Hispanic people and it’s kind of ironic because my father would tell us about some of his experiences growing up. ‘You don’t know how lucky you are. When I went to school we weren’t allowed to speak Spanish and we were made fun of if we did.’ I’m looking forward to watching it and getting more insight.”
“To me it’s both a celebration and a chance to be proud of Mexico and our traditions,” says WICT Mexico Chapter member Adriana Franco, VP of WICT Latin America & Country Manager, Mexico, at Business Bureau. “This is a special month for everyone to celebrate.”
Vela notes the WICT Greater Texas Chapter has a popular saying, “We aspire to be what we see.”
She says that spotlighting cultural holidays help motivate management in a business, especially in technology-driven or male-dominated fields. According to Vela, being culturally diverse is attainable regardless of how long it might take to get there.
“I really think it’s important for junior leaders, who are up and coming, to see [cultural representation in the workplace] and I hope it gives them courage to go for the next new role, ask for a mentor or just get involved,” Vela says.
“Diversity begets diversity and it’s really good for everyone,” adds Vela. “Our customer base is more diverse than ever especially when compared to 10 or 20 years ago. If a company is diverse it will attract diverse clients, employees and more. I really think that’s key to growth.”
“Mexico is an example of diversity and inclusion, overall we are proud of our culture and celebrate our accomplishments,” says Franco, who agrees that celebrating Hispanic cultures can positively impact the workplace.
AMC Networks is partnering with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to honor HHM with the launch of a public service announcement campaign. According to the company, the inaugural campaign began premiering on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 across the company’s national networks, including AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, and the AMC+ streaming service.
The PSA campaign brings together leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to celebrate the cultural history of the Hispanic/Latino communities, along with their achievements and contributions that continue to impact society. Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán, Tony Cárdenas, and Raul Ruiz are featured in the campaign, the company notes.
“We are honored to partner with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to recognize the vital contributions of Hispanic and Latino people in the U.S. and beyond. As part of our ongoing commitment to amplify underrepresented communities, it is important we celebrate this rich and vibrant culture not only this month, but every day of the year,” says Aisha Thomas-Petit, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at AMC Networks (AMC).
The central theme of the PSA campaign is “Unidos, United” – a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and the rich multitudes of cultures and experiences the community represents. In the PSAs, Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus discuss a range of topics including what unites the Hispanic/Latino communities, the importance of sharing Hispanic/Latino stories, and the incredible leaders that inspire them.
“If your company is celebrating cultural events like this, I think it makes the junior leaders feel like they belong and are more likely to contribute because they see other leaders doing so,” says Vela. “It’s knowing that your company cares.”
According to AMC, it will celebrate HHM across its linear networks and streaming platforms with special programming and content. Streaming platform AMC+ will launch “Celebrando La Unidad,” a collection of 25 films spanning across all genres.
“AMC Networks is proud to support a range of initiatives that ensure equitable representation in our workforce, elevate Hispanic and Latino voices, and share diverse and inclusive stories with viewers across the globe,” says Thomas-Petit.
Click here to view “Celebrando La Unidad” programming.
Just because HHM ends in mid-October doesn’t mean it comes to a firm halt, as Vela notes education and opportunities are the keys to breaking down barriers. “I’m a first generation college graduate and my father would always stress that education is key. He didn’t graduate high school and looking back, I didn’t know how much my parents sacrificed to put me through college, but now realize how much they did.”
“My dad would always say it doesn’t matter if you get an education through college or a trade, it opens doors and it’s an opportunity to embrace – so don’t waste it.”
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