Hispanic Heritage Month may have just passed, but the importance of honoring Hispanic heritage is ongoing. This year’s theme was “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,” a reminder that the collective “we” is far greater than the sum of our parts. We need to do all we can to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) globally, not just for 30 days but all year long. Here are three priorities I see for elevating the Latinx community all around the world:
When we work in silos, we become disconnected. It limits innovation and productivity and prevents a general understanding of the experiences of others. Representation matters, on teams and in leadership, because it produces better outcomes for everyone. In fact, research shows that global companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. I’m extremely proud to work at Cisco, where Hispanic and Latinx workers don’t just have a seat at the table – we represent 18.2% of the company’s executive leadership team (p.49, Cisco’s Purpose Report), nearly equal our numbers in the general U.S. population.
If I could share one message about breaking down the silos, it’s this: corporate leadership moves the economic needle for minorities and sets new standards for more inclusive business practices. We must all be intentional about creating change. I couldn’t be more proud to work at Cisco and actively contribute to this movement.
Advance Early Education and High-Speed Internet
The lack of early childhood education and access to high-speed internet are two issues that disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities. When problems are too big and far- reaching for government alone to solve, companies like Cisco rise to the occasion and play a vital role in closing the digital divide through public and private partnerships.
At the start of the pandemic, roughly 31% of Latinx households didn’t have access to broadband and Latinx children between the ages of 3 and 4 had particularly low access to quality state-based preschool programs. Cisco works with private and public partners to bring high-speed internet to rural and low-income areas, which have a multiplier effect on educational outcomes, particularly for Blacks and Hispanics. Educational initiatives like the Cisco Networking Academy — now in its 25th year — and Cisco High School STEM Program are providing people from all backgrounds with in-demand technical skills to ready them for participation in the digital economy, and connecting them with peers, mentors and life-changing job opportunities.
People are always stronger together. That’s why building community is key to empowering the Latinx culture. As an example, Conexión, Cisco’s inclusive employee community, unites Hispanics with ideas and actions to build a stronger future. Conexión aims to increase Hispanic leadership and representation at Cisco and in the tech industry overall. As an executive sponsor of Conexión, I’m proud to say that our members have volunteered thousands of hours mentoring Latinx college students and helping them with everything from job searches and résumé writing to interview preparations.
Whether it’s Conexión or another Hispanic-focused organization, take time to get involved. From my experience, joining together in community with others to make a difference is fulfilling beyond measure.
Engage and Get Involved
Uniting our world – becoming truly unidos – starts with inclusivity. To celebrate and uplift our Latinx heritage throughout the year, I encourage you to keep the above ideas in mind. Each of us can make an impact every day. A simple way to start is to engage in meaningful conversations with your Latinx peers and get more proximate with the Hispanic community overall.
Get started by reading a few Conexión Blogs
Conexión ERO (Cisco Only)