The Hispanic/Latino community in the United States is a force to be reckoned with! We are the fastest growing population in the country and reaching new heights with each generation. In my case, I’m a second generation Cuban-American. My family, like so many others, reached for the American dream with nothing but the clothes on their backs. We were searching for hope and the limitless possibilities to better our lives. My family, and our strong Hispanic community, are the inspiration behind my own journey to reach my endless potential and to persevere through any adversity.
That journey began 26 years ago, during my first job working as a retail sales consultant at AT&T. I remember it like it was yesterday: a frustrated Spanish speaking customer came into our store. None of the other sales reps were able to help him because of language barriers. Fresh out of training, I nervously approached the customer. I was able to make a connection with him in Spanish, provided all the assistance he needed, and created a lasting relationship that continued years later. To my surprise, this one connection opened the door to so many others. This customer then referred people who asked for me by name. Eager to help, I became excited about the impact I was making and the satisfaction of giving back to my community.
That impact fueled my passion to continue serving the Hispanic community throughout my career. I never imagined then that one day I would work my way up to be an executive leading a team of diverse, entrepreneurial leaders across the country. And the best part is I now get to bring out that passion in others to serve their communities authentically. But I didn’t get here alone. I’ve had the support of many great teams, leaders, mentors and family members. It’s how I remain focused on the main objectives and kept true to my values.
Today, I get to champion efforts to attract, retain and develop Hispanic talent and distribution, while helping create the spaces to uplift our Hispanic community and provide empowering opportunities for others to reach their fullest potential. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I reflect on how we must commit to paying it forward in our daily lives.
I’m also proud that the impact of our collective work at AT&T expands far beyond our workforce. It’s also having a positive impact in local communities for future generations. As a former English as a Second Language student, I broke through educational limits to excel academically and now proudly support annual Back to School Drives, filling hundreds of backpacks with supplies for elementary school children in Los Angeles thanks to the volunteer efforts of HACEMOS, our Hispanic employee group at AT&T. Our national group is also actively volunteering on efforts to help close the digital divide—the gap between people who have access to the internet and digital technology and those who do not—which is more likely to impact people of color, especially Hispanic families.
We celebrate our Hispanidad (Hispanic Heritage) by keeping it loud and alive in every part of our business. Don’t just take it from me. Hear more from our AT&T employees in Conexión stores – AT&T’s National Hispanic Retail Program that provides additional resources and services for our predominantly Latino neighborhoods across the country – as they share their perspective on their Poder Hispano (Hispanic Power) and reaching their “Limitless Opportunities” during Hispanic Heritage Month:
I think of the powerful leap of faith my family took in coming to the U.S. to escape oppression without knowing English, having friends or a clear path forward. Greeted with a new culture to learn and obstacles to overcome, they found support within the Hispanic community who provided resources like food, clothes, jobs, medications and money. This welcoming spirit and intentional practice of generosity continues to this day with Hispanics supporting each other in the U.S. and back home in their lands of origin.
Many will never face half of the challenges of Hispanics who came before us. They may lose sight of the heroic path paved. They may forget that our possibilities are truly limitless when you have the courage to reach for your dreams. So, let’s take this time to recommit advancing equality through our daily actions. Let’s use compassion, kindness and consistent discipline to authentically serve the underserved. And let’s strengthen our efforts to empower, connect, and lift representation of the Hispanic community together, all year-round.
Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana!