Latinx Heritage Month: An interview with employee resource group, Unidos

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Latinx Heritage Month: An interview with employee resource group, Unidos

Hear about our Unidos leaders in their own words.

Karina Cerdan

October 4, 2022 | 5 min read

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“We are a part of the American tapestry in a very profound way, in every area you can think of.” - Jimmy Smits

Latinx identity and heritage in the United States is both pan-ethnic and diverse, united and distinct. Whether one uses Latinx, Latino/a/e, or Hispanic, we’re talking about people of various national origins ranging from the Caribbean like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, to Central America like Costa Rica and Guatemala, to South America like Brazil and Colombia, and Mexico, to name a few. For centuries, each of their distinct histories and customs has shaped American culture, and at Momentive, we celebrate the contributions of this multicultural, multilingual community.

In honor of Latinx History Month, we interviewed various leaders from Unidos, our Latinx employee resource group. Since the beginning, Unidos’ mission has been, “to unite Momentive Latino/a/Latinx members, celebrate our diverse cultural backgrounds while supporting each other in our professional journey, and educate the larger team about key topics facing our community.” 

Here’s how that mission plays out for Unidos leaders, in their own words.

Why does having a Latinx employee resource group matter to you? 

“Momentive is my first job outside of the public policy/social programming area, and I arrived with the expectation that I would feel out of my comfort zone. After all, being from a collectivist culture can make it difficult to adjust to a corporate climate—especially when you’re experiencing it for the first time. To my relief, I found that Momentive has a welcoming culture. However, I still felt like I would benefit from being around my community.  I immediately joined Unidos and tried to get involved. This meant joining employee panels, volunteering through Unidos’ partnerships with Bay Area high schools, and joining Cafecitos (our monthly community check-in and chat) when I had the time. 

Getting involved in the Latinx community here at Momentive definitely helped me feel less siloed, and allowed me to learn about the different groups at Momentive. A year plus later, I’ve developed amazing friendships with my co-leads, and I know we can turn to our executive sponsors for support. Whether it’s planning a fun Taco Tuesday event, or coming together in the wake of Uvalde, I feel proud of what our group has accomplished! I‘m glad we can make a mark and hopefully encourage more Latinx people to join and stay at Momentive!” 
-Victoria Rodriguez, Research Scientist

What can leaders and managers do to shape a more equitable future for Latinx employees at work? Or What policies, processes, or practices can leaders and people managers enact to support Latinx people at work?

I think first and foremost, equity starts at the top. We have to ensure that there is senior leadership and management that represents everyone in the organization, especially the LatinX  community. This includes evaluating our recruiting practices  when looking at potential candidates externally, or when we are looking to promote within. There should be a system in place that supports  equal opportunities for diverse employees to grow into positions of leadership. This could include training and resources, or a mentorship program.

Another practice should be to make wage equity a priority.  In general there is a stigma or it is considered taboo when discussing wages, but more so within the LatinX community. However when Latinas typically earn only 49 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men, we have to encourage open and transparent conversations around wages to ensure  everyone is being fairly compensated.

And finally we have to create safe spaces to discuss microaggressions and bias. We have to allow people to feel comfortable, speak up and advocate for themselves while also educating our non LatinX counterparts. 

I am so proud to be a part of Unidos and to have Momentive’s support of our Employee Resource Group. They encourage us to have these conversations within and externally, and are always a leader in the DEI space.  

 - Jason Blanco, Engineering Experience Project Manager

Which company initiatives elevate, celebrate, or support the Latinx community? 

Last year Momentive partnered with the Eva Longoria Foundation to empower Latina entrepreneurs. A group of 60 Latina entrepreneurs were given access to SurveyMonkey licenses, with live virtual training offered in both English and Spanish. The training modules focused on three key topics: survey basics and best practices, market research, and customer loyalty. As the daughter of Latinx entrepreneurs, I know how important it is for them to have access to resources that can help them grow their business. I watched my parents navigate the small business world on their own, but I am certain that had they had access to tools like SurveyMonkey they could have gained much more insight into their clientele and use that data to strategize growth opportunities. 

I am grateful that Momentive provides a space for our Unidos members to come together, build community, and celebrate our culture and growth. I am also thankful to the Social Impact Team at Momentive that has helped foster and lead the Momentive Together strategy that focuses on creating a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and just world, both in and outside of the workplace. “

- Anabel Arrazola, Associate Manager, Recruiting Operations 

How does your heritage empower you in your career?

“My heritage has empowered me through my career by pushing me to be a trailblazer for those who may come after me, and make those who came before me proud. I'm inspired to become a first in anything I do and show others how strong and resilient we are as a culture!” 

- Sofia Mendoza, Account Executive

group photo of unidos team memners

Unidos leads with executive sponsors, Janelle Lopez and John Schoenstein, and founding member, Cynthia Botello, at the 2022 Latinx Heritage Month kick-off at headquarters featuring Afrocuban band, Pellejo Seco.

***

Why “Latinx”?

At Momentive, our Latinx ERG, Unidos, decided to embrace the term “Latinx” in 2019 to refer to people of these origins with a gender-neutral alternative to the binary terms Latino or Latina.

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