Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the Workplace
The Spanish affinity group, also known as Hablando Español en el Trabajo - Speaking Spanish in the Workplace, was established at the Communities In Schools® (CIS®) National Office in June 2021.
Individuals from the National staff meet monthly to chat in Spanish, whether it is their native language, or they are learning it. The group started with an idea and desire to have a space for native Spanish speakers to come and make it a norm to have a dialogue in their native language at work.
It has now evolved into inviting staff members who are curious about learning more about the Hispanic/Latinx culture and/or want to learn Spanish while fostering an environment of creative collaboration. Today, these meetings serve as a space to explore topics that are related to our Latinx community and serve as an open space for dialogue in Spanish or Spanglish, while having fun and learning.
This year the team planned the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the National Office using an alternative way to play “La Loteria” throughout the month as the theme. The use of “La Loteria” opened the opportunity to talk about historical racism in our countries and how our communities are challenging and honoring traditions. It was insightful and liberating, while also learning that the game is part of a culture full of diversity and joy.
The planning team represented staff members from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and a lover of the Hispanic culture from Virginia. The team had so much fun collaborating and learning more about what inspired them about their heritage and found a way to share it throughout the month.
They creatively produced an idea to send out an icon from the “Loteria” with attached resources to learn more about certain topics. These resources included music and arts, Native peoples in Latin America, history, crafts, arts, and food. It was a way to express their interest and share their knowledge about their own culture.
Affinity groups are encouraged at the National Office because they strenthen diversity and inclusivity among colleagues. Employees can support and find a community of other colleagues with similar backgrounds; they encourage self-awareness and collaboration between individuals that might not work together on a regular basis. It lifts the voices of historically oppressed communities, by sharing the joy and diversity our community truly represents.
If you have any ideas about starting an affinity group at your own affiliate and want to find out ways to initiate it, feel free to reach out. Change starts with us –– it inspires a transformative system, because representation is important for a more inclusive workforce!