At The Mom Project, we value diversity and celebrate the various cultures and experiences that each employee brings to our team. From September 15th to October 15th, we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with one of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), VIVA, leading the helm. The amazing members of VIVA took the time to educate the TMP team about various aspects within the unique, rich Hispanic/Latinx culture, including everything from history to food to local Latinx businesses and more.
We took the time to sit down with Angie Stratman, Sales Development Manager and VIVA ERG Co-Chair, and Kenefra Carter, DEIB Program Manager, to chat about the importance of ERGs (called Ohana Groups at TMP) and to learn more about how VIVA (TMP's LatinaX/Hispanic Ohana group) educated their organization on the beauty of La Cultura.
TMP: Tell us the origin story of VIVA and how it started.
Angie: VIVA was one of the founding ERGs over 2 years ago. It started as a small group talking about Latinx traditions and culture, food, music, etc. and it evolved to so much more than that. It became our sanctuary where we could come together in a safe space and discuss generational traumas we try to overcome, the struggle of being a person of color in corporate America, challenges we face in raising a second generation of Latinx/bi-racial children. The members of VIVA are now a familia who support each other and are there for one another in our life’s milestones.
TMP: What were some of the initiatives and highlights of Hispanic Heritage Month for TMP?
Angie: We wanted to share experiences, stories and knowledge about Hispanic Heritage and Latino history. We shared local Latinx businesses to support and raised money for those in our Latino community that were affected by Hurricane Fiona.
Kenefra: Angie shared all that we accomplished and shared with our teammates during the month. The biggest highlights for me from Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is how we all showed up in support of one another. Highlighting TMP’s diversity vision, We all move forward when we all move together.
TMP: What were the goals when it came to engaging employees throughout the organization?
Kenefra: The goals were pretty simple: learn together, grow together and experience one another. Hispanic Heritage Month was the perfect time for us to highlight a community within our team! It gave us all the opportunity to learn about the importance of heritage and to see a glimpse of the world through the eyes of someone else. Foods, businesses, candid conversations through articles and TED Talks…they were conversation starters. Now we keep going.
TMP: What were some key components or highlights?
Angie: The highlight of our Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration was raising over $2000 for our comunidad de Puerto Rico to help with the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.
TMP: How can we use these learnings to continue our DEIB efforts throughout the year?
Kenefra: We keep highlighting the stories of our teammates, we keep engaging the team with conversations that focus on our differences and the importance of acceptance. We keep moving the needle forward by not shying away from knowing inclusion is an everyday act and belonging is the outcome. I am excited for what is to come. What our team gained through partnering with VIVA has been priceless and what we have coming up with all of our Ohana groups is really good stuff!
TMP: How do we continue to amplify Latinx voices and what do we do moving forward?
Angie: Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t just end on October 15, we can continue to amplify LatinX voices and support the community by being curious about our stories and histories. Continuing to advocate for those who sometimes feel they’re silenced and by always making room at the table for LatinX representation.
TMP: Tell us the importance of creating equity and the value of creating economic impact.
Kenefra: Equity means being provided with what you need to succeed. I thought it was important to start with a definition. There is no way to give people what they need without creating economic resources, opportunity and access. Economic impact is how we change the conversations within marginalized communities. For many people of color, women are the breadwinners in their families, so economic impact matters. That is why I love the work that we do at TMP everyday. Create economic impact for mom! When you secure women, you change the lives of her family. The widespread effects of that show up in the community that mom lives in. Schools, businesses, the resources available to our children.
TMP: Talk to us about Ohana/ERGs and the importance of belonging and psychological safety.
Kenefra: An employee resource group (ERG) is an employee-led group that fosters inclusivity and builds community. At TMP, the Ohana groups offer a safe space to share and experience life with people who you share similarities with. Psychological safety operates as elevators from surviving and belonging. True belonging requires authenticity and vulnerability. Our Ohana groups offer a place to authentically be who they are and find acceptance and a sense of belonging and visibility. It is a very tangible way to build psychological safety, and show the company's commitment to diversity and amplifying the voices of all people.
Walking with VIVA
As Angie mentioned, the highlight of our celebration was TMP employees and staff coming together to Walk With VIVA. On September 27, 2022, our team showed up to walk with loved ones, co-workers, or by themselves while also donating to the Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund by GlobalGiving.
Celebrating diversity today and every day
We’re so grateful to have people like Angie and Kenefra, who work so hard to help us realize our mission for equity and inclusion. Understanding the beauty that diversity brings into the workplace and our lives aligns with our vision of a brighter future.
Visit the official website to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and its impact over the years.
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