Embracing and celebrating differences is the fabric of Blend’s employee-led culture. Each Blend employee has their own unique story to tell, and whether it’s through a personal blog post, a casual (virtual) office chat, or through one of our ten and counting employee resource groups (ERGs), providing members of Blendkind a platform to share their experiences and amplify their voices is a vital part of the inclusive workforce we’re building.
The Blendisimo ERG exists to celebrate and advocate for the Hispanic/Latinx community at Blend and beyond. Like all Blend ERGs, Blendisimo is managed by two rotating co-leads who are compensated for their commitment. The ERG holds monthly meetings, manages an annual budget, and designs programming for culture or heritage months and celebrations. Blendisimo’s current co-leads, Liz Bravo and Rebeca Rodriguez, worked with the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging team to organize a month of events in celebration of 2021’s National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 to October 15.
Celebrating Latinx diversity
Hispanic Heritage Month is a full exploration of the diverse cultures, heritages, and contributions within the Latinx community. This year’s theme at Blend was Celebrating our influential and inspirational leaders — with several events centered on Hispanic and Latinx leaders who make a difference in our lives, at Blend, and in the world. To that end, Blendisimo held several spotlight sessions with different employees, which gave people the chance to learn more about colleagues they might not have the opportunity to interact with, their personal stories and cultural perspective, and how the Latinx community at Blend contributes to our mission.
In September, Rebeca held a 30-minute salsa making class via Zoom. The following day featured a lunch-and-learn session that was held in collaboration with the Women@blend ERG. It was a virtual exploration and discussion about the HERland: Women artists in the MOLAA collection that was led by the Museum of Latin American Art’s Chief Curator, Gabriela Urtiaga.
As the month progressed, Blendisimo held a Loteria night, the traditional game of chance that originated in Italy in the fifteenth century and was brought to modern Mexico in 1769. Participants signed up prior to the event so they could receive a kit with everything they needed to play. The loteria lasted for several rounds and everyone was given a turn to be the “influencer,” which involved shouting out the cards.
In October, Blendisimo and Women@blend held another co-sponsored, virtual lunch-and-learn in honor of Dia de Muertos that was hosted by Austin-based civil rights activist, Dr. Sylvia Herrera. Dr. Herrera shared how she prepares for and celebrates Dia de Muertos and taught participants about the spiritual significance behind Dia de Muertos and its connection to her culture and ancestors.
The Asian@blend and Believe@blend ERGs joined Blendisimo for the final event: a Dia de Muertos celebration. Believe@blend discussed how the day is spiritually significant for them, and Asian@blend explained how Dia de Muertos is celebrated in the Philippines. Participants were treated to a spooky urban legend storytelling night as some enjoyed s’mores and wore temporary sugar skull tattoos provided by Blendisimo. In addition to being fun, it was a great way for people to learn about the different ways it is celebrated around the world.
Year-round cultural inclusion
Liz and Rebeca are both passionate about sharing their Latinx culture and heritage, but they also emphasized that it doesn’t begin and end with a 30-day national observance. Joining an ERG gives you the opportunity to strengthen your connection with your own identity or identities by creating an inclusive dialogue around shared knowledge or experiences. At the same time, they support strong allyship and allow people to engage with the company in a meaningful and impactful way. Rebeca said she was excited to learn from her fellow ERG members about their particular heritage or traditions and is intrigued to see how Blendisimo will continue to evolve.
While connecting employees and organizing events is certainly part of what employee resource groups do, they are so much more. From driving inclusive policies to providing powerful leadership development platforms, ERGs are one of the best resources for the next generation of diverse leaders and talent. Liz and Rebeca spoke to the personal development that they’ve experienced as Blendisimo co-leads, touting the leadership skills — strategic and innovative thinking, communication, team building, and decision making — they’ve acquired during their tenure.
Actions, not words
True commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace begins with the resolve to do something. When built with intention, ERGs empower employees to come to work as their authentic selves, help build high-trust relationships, and ultimately lead to a united workforce where innovation can flourish. We all see life through our own lenses, but the key to broadening our perspectives and embarking on the path to personal and professional growth is exploring the kaleidoscope of diverse cultures, personal identities, and experiences that surround us.