In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, UKG chatted with members of the UNIDOS employee resource group (ERG) to learn more about their experiences as part of the Hispanic and Latin community.
Join us as we celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures and traditions that make up this vibrant community through the stories of three remarkable U Krewers.
Gracie B., Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition
La Frontera: I was born and raised in a border town in Texas, just a few miles from the Mexico border. As early as I can remember, Mexican culture—tamales, Tejano music, and the Spanish language—has been a part of my life. My parents were both born in Mexico and came to the United States in search of a better life. I learned about hard work and determination firsthand by seeing them struggle to adjust to a new life. There was nothing that would get in their way to make a better life for their family. My most significant challenge was becoming a mother at just 16 years old and my dream of being the first one in my family to go to college felt unattainable.
My desire to finish college now had a bigger purpose: I wanted to be a role model for my daughter and set a tradition that could changes our lives. –Gracie
Valores familiares: The strong family values that were instilled in my youth drove my passion for success. We have many traditions in our family, like candy-filled piñatas at birthday parties, making tamales during the holidays, and watching Spanish novelas (soap operas) after dinner. However, no one in my family had gone to college and worked in corporate America. There was no blueprint I could follow or tía I could reach out to for advice. But together with my family’s support and encouragement we set out to build a new tradition. I was not the traditional student as I worked full time, cared for my daughter, and went to classes in the evenings. My desire to finish college now had a bigger purpose: I wanted to be a role model for my daughter and set a tradition that could changes our lives.
Aventuras en la Universidad: After a long journey, I achieved my goal and completed my bachelor’s degree. However, my biggest joy was dropping off my daughter to her college dorm to begin her own college adventure. Now, as an elementary school teacher, she is helping many children and our family has added a new tradition to our rich Mexican culture.
Xenia S., Senior UI & UX Designer, Organizational Effectiveness
La diversidad: One of the UKG DEI&B initiatives that I appreciate most is that we champion and invest in ERGs. These employee-driven groups provide a community to foster belonging and community where I feel like I can be myself and build authentic relationships with U Krewers across the organization. ERGs have helped me stay engaged and agile while going through change fatigue.
Similares pero diferentes: The Hispanic and Latin* community and culture is a spectrum. While we have many similarities, every country has their own unique traditions and roots. My family is from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican culture is a blend of Taíno Indian, Spanish, and African cultures and aspects of all three can be seen in modern-day Puerto Rico. One thing I love about our culture is our music. The genres most associated with Puerto Rico, salsa and reggaeton, are results of our mixed roots that are now listened to and celebrated worldwide.
Representation is important to truly create a culture of belonging at work, not only at individual contributor levels, but more importantly at leadership levels too. –Xenia
Representación, por favor: Representation is important to truly create a culture of belonging at work, not only at individual contributor levels, but more importantly at leadership levels too. Real representation isn’t token diversity or just checking the diversity box but acknowledging an individual’s lived experiences. Personally, it means to create a space where I feel like I don’t have to assimilate and hide my Latinidad to have the same opportunities as many of my peers.
Las doce uvas de la suerte: One of my favorite traditions happens at New Year’s. For New Year’s Eve we eat 12 grapes close to midnight. The tradition consists of eating a grape during the last seconds of the year. It is believed that if you finish eating all grapes this will lead to a year of prosperity.
Lorena S., Senior Information Systems Engineer, IT Core Messaging
Las fiestas: My favorites celebrations are Christmas and New Year and since my family is divided between Venezuela and Spain traditions, it is always fun.
Noche Buena: While many people around the world gather on December 25 to deck the halls and exchange gifts with family and friends, Latinos’ celebrations begin the day before on Christmas Eve, also known as Noche Buena. Celebrations start with a large feast, traditional holiday music, dancing, gift-giving and, depending on the family’s religious beliefs, a trip to a late Mass known as Misa del Gallo. The festivities often last well into the wee hours of the Christmas morning. The food is the most important part of the Noche Buena. The most popular Christmas dishes in our house are the hallaca and pan de jamon (ham bread). On Christmas morning we exchange gifts with family and wear matching pajamas.
Tradiciones del Año Viejo: Most people think once Christmas is over, we’re done with holidays and celebrations, but we still have another party. For the “Año Viejo” celebration, we have a big party with a lot of food, dancing, and fireworks. Like Xenia shared, one of the things we do at midnight to start the new year is to eat 12 grapes. They must be eaten for every second during the last 12 seconds counting down to midnight, making a wish for each grape. And you cannot forget the suitcase filled with vacation clothing that you carry while walking in the street after midnight. The longer you walk, the longer your trips will be.
Most Latinos celebrations are big with families, friends, and neighbors. There is no such thing as a small celebration. –Lorena
Grandes celebraciones: Sometimes it’s difficult for other people to understand why you cannot have a small celebration. Most Latinos celebrations are big with families, friends, and neighbors. There is no such thing as a small celebration. You have your parents, brothers, sisters, abuelos, tíos, tías, friends. This is for everything—it could be a birthday party, graduation, anniversary, wedding, or just simple a barbeque during the weekend.
La Familia: Family is a very important part of the Latin culture. It usually goes beyond the nuclear family, as your closest friends are also part of your family. Family ties are very strong. When someone travels to another town to study or for a short visit, staying with relatives or even with friends of relatives is a common practice.