There are many ways to describe Hispanic Heritage Month, the month-long celebration of the vibrant and rich Hispanic and Latinx culture. Recognition of ancestry and tradition. Appreciation of cultural differences. Reflection on the historic contributions of those who came before us and those who are affecting positive change all around us.
The theme of this year’s celebration – “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage & Hope” – strikes a particular chord as the world continues to battle disruption: a global pandemic, racial inequality and social injustice, and civil unrest. A word that, in English, means “hope,” esperanza speaks to the strength and resiliency of the Hispanic and Latinx community, reminding us that we are stronger together and when we have a shared vision for a brighter future.
Observed annually from September 15th to October 15th, Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week; in 1988, it became a full month celebration that includes the respective Independence Days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, and Belize, as well as Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day). Since then, Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and more.
At PTC, Hispanic Heritage Month is in full swing to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of those within the Hispanic and Latinx community. Our Hispanic and Latinx employee resource group (ERG), HOLA, has worked hard to create a series of fun and informative events aimed and bringing the PTC community together, both virtually and in-person, throughout the month.
To find out more about Hispanic Heritage Month, I sat down recently with PTC EVP & Chief Operating Officer Troy Richardson, who serves as executive sponsor of our HOLA ERG. Take a look at excerpts from the conversation:
When we talk about the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, what we have to remember is it’s really always important to celebrate – not just one month of the year. On an individual level, understanding your culture and celebrating your history is a determining factor in who you become as a person; it also helps to shape the person you want to become in the future.
On a collective level, it’s an opportunity for those of us outside of the Hispanic and Latinx community to learn and grow. There is only so much we are taught in school – the rest is up to us to absorb through cultural exposure, by listening, participating, and showing our support.
Because that’s really what we’re talking about here; we live together in the world, so it’s important for us to understand where we all came from. Our differences make us unique, and they also make us stronger as a society.
At PTC, that’s what we call the “power to create” – this notion that we can create a more dynamic and engaged workforce by bringing in a diversity in perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds; what we want is to create an environment where everyone feels they can be bring their true, authentic selves to the work they do.
Absolutely. In my previous roles, I had the opportunity to lead employee resource groups and it was always very fulfilling work. I’m new to my role as executive sponsor of HOLA, but it’s been an honor to serve in this capacity because I’ve been able to both listen and learn, while elevating HOLA’s mission and objectives to our executive leadership team.
So, it’s a personal growth opportunity for me – you know, you never stop learning! Being part of HOLA has already taught me so much about the Hispanic and Latinx community and I’m excited to continue learning, listening, and providing support. I see my role as building on what I’ve benefitted from in my own career, which is mentoring and coaching.
We all need to remember that employees who participate in employee resource groups are doing this work outside of their day jobs because they’re passionate about driving meaningful change across the organization. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to help pave the way for change.
I’ve been really impressed with how well HOLA is organized – they’re doing important work to promote DEI both within and outside of PTC. In September, HOLA partnered with Essteem on an International Equal Pay Day hackathon in support of TechQueria, a nonprofit that serves the largest global community of Latinx professionals in tech. Last week, HOLA, in collaboration with PTC’s Family ERG, hosted a virtual discussion on the impact of immigration in families, focusing on how life can be different for those who are first generation or recent immigrants.
Today, we’ll be meeting at PTC’s Seaport headquarters, and virtually, for a fireside chat, where HOLA and I will host an open conversation on diversity in the workplace, professional development advice and opportunities, and more. And then there’s ¡Baila PTC! on October 14, where HOLA members will teach the basics of Bachata and Salsa (even for the rhythmically challenged!).
These are just a few examples of the ways HOLA is promoting cultural awareness. Having come into PTC at a time when employee resource groups like HOLA were already well established, I’m excited to see the outside-the-box thinking of ways we can continue to build DEI into our company DNA.
We always want to create the right environment where people can be successful. But it’s also proven that diverse companies outperform less diverse peers – and these companies adopt systematic, business-led approaches to DEI. That’s where we’re headed and that’s why we’ve created a formal DEI team, including the appointment of PTC’s first Chief Diversity Officer and Corporate Social Responsibility Leader. We’re on the right path.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of those within the Hispanic and Latinx community. In the spirit of esperanza, let’s use this year’s celebration to share and appreciate our differences and continue to be the change we want to see in the world around us.