Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month is observed every year from September 15 to October 15. It celebrates the diverse cultures and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
This year’s Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month theme at Cisco is Innovating with an Accent. It is important to understand and embrace the diversity within the Hispanic and Latinx communities, celebrate the impactful contributions of Hispanic and Latinx individuals, and support representation so we can continue to build a better future.
Cisco is committed to building an inclusive future for all, including supporting our Hispanic and Latinx employees. We have an Employee Resource Organization (ERO) called Conexión, which is open to everyone and welcomes a multitude of cultural backgrounds. Conexión brings people together to experience personal and professional growth through inspirational leadership, coaching, mentoring, and by providing plentiful opportunities to give back.
Learn more from members of Conexión about what Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month means to them.
Vanessa de Oliveira
Diversity, Inclusion & Collaboration Program Lead
“Putting identity generalizations and other situations aside, Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month to me represent two main things:
First, it is a great opportunity to educate allies about a growing demographic that has long been relegated to the margins of history. This includes providing a chance to hear a narrative informed by culture. After all, as the artist Resident said; ‘América no es solo U.S.A., papa’ (English translation: America is not just the U.S.A.).
The second one is the chance to celebrate Latinx cultural icons to coalesce our community, call forth successful historical struggles, and activate change.
Unlike many Brazilians I know, I always felt Latina and even after I migrated, I felt this identity even stronger. When you move to a new country and you must build a new support network from scratch, friends quickly become your family. It was in Latinx community, and by joining our ERO Conexión, that I found a great part of my emotional support. To reference to the Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano, ‘Yes, indeed: however, hurt and shattered one might be, one can always find a contemporary anywhere in time and a compatriot anywhere in space. And wherever this happens, and for as long as it lasts, one is lucky to feel one is something in the infinite loneliness of the universe: something more than a ridiculous speck of dust, more than a fleeting moment.’
So, for me, this is what Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month is all about:
Representation, identity, resistance, and justice. But it’s also about connections, dances, rhythms, religions, flavors, and spices. It’s about black coffee with no sugar, it’s about colors.”
Leader – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Business Enablement
“I joined Cisco in 2019, and I had been working in large multinational companies for five years before joining. Here is where I started celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM). You see, I live in Costa Rica, born and raised. I live and breathe Latinx culture every single day.
However, in every single one of the companies I worked before, I always tried to hide my accent. I had to tone down that culture, yes, the one that made me who I am. Therefore, when I joined Cisco and I was told you can be you with us, I was surprised.
When I joined Conexión and was told to be proud of my accent, I was amazed. When every single leader that I have had during my time here saw the benefits and worth of having someone born, raised, and located in Central America and never as a disadvantage to my career, but instead celebrated and gave new opportunities to continue growing, I was beyond happy.
And that is what HHM means to me, a month when we celebrate Latinx culture and Latinx individuals who are spread all over the world. Amazing, talented, and beautiful human beings who regardless of where we sit, we celebrate our history, our culture, and our accent. We celebrate the impact and the accomplishments that we have had, we will continue having, and will continue achieving. And especially celebrating HHM at Cisco, where since day one, we are told to #BeYouWithUs and to always #BeProudOfOurAccent.”
Lead, Human Resources Business Partner
“As I reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month, who comes to mind is my grandfather, Professor Manuel Villavicencio Pérez or as we knew him ‘Méme’.
He was a mathematician turned educator who founded the Instituto Latino Americano, in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México. A pre-school to high school by day and by night a teacher’s college. His motto loosely translates into ‘educate the child today so that we don’t punish the young man tomorrow (eduquemos al niño hoy, para no castigar al joven mañana)’. Education was his life and legacy.
Like my grandfather’s story, many Latin entrepreneurs are opening businesses, an anchor to the economy of the USA. According to a JP Morgan & Chase article, Latin-owned businesses promise GDP growth, unlike any other sector. If these Latin-owned businesses only grow at the same rate as an average USA business, they will add 1.4 trillion dollars to the US economy. An economic powerhouse.
What did hard work do for my family? My grandfather built a business that provided him and my grandmother the opportunity to travel the world, live a comfortable life, provide for their four children, and teach their grandchildren that hard work with dedication and passion is what we do.
What can you do to become an ally or engage with your Latin or Hispanic peers? Join Conexión during the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. See us in action, join in on the fun, ask questions, and get proximate to our incredibly colorful and rich Latin and Hispanic cultures.
How to take steps to allyship
There are over 62 million people in the U.S who identify as Hispanic and Latinx, and they are one of the fastest growing populations, especially among youth. At the same time, Hispanic and Latinx individuals continue to experience racism and discrimination and are underrepresented in certain areas of the workforce, like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Members of Hispanic & Latinx communities could use your allyship, whether they be friends, family, or colleagues. Here are three ways to begin the process:
- Learn more about the issues Hispanic & Latinx communities face through books, podcasts, or documentaries. Educating yourself on these topics can help you become more proximate to the lived experiences of people from different backgrounds.
- Consider donating to or volunteering with an organization that supports the advancement of equity and inclusion for Hispanic & Latinx communities.
- Don’t just show your support during Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month. Listen to, celebrate, and uplift voices from Hispanic & Latinx communities all year.