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‘Breaking Barriers’ and Celebrating Diversity During Hispanic Heritage Month

Somos Zoom, our ERG focused on the Latinx community, celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month at Zoom with a diverse lineup of guest speakers.
8 min read

Updated on October 19, 2021

Published on October 19, 2021

‘Breaking Barriers’ And Celebrating Diversity During Hispanic Heritage Month

I was inspired to help lead Somos Zoom, our Employee Resource Group (ERG) focused on the Latinx and Hispanic community, in order to create more diversity, visibility, and representation of our community in tech. I wanted to be a part of a group that welcomes Latinx Zoom employees, current and prospective, to be their most authentic selves at work and feel supported in their tech careers. 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month here at Zoom helped us do that by recognizing the contributions of the Latinx community to history, culture, art, food, and business globally. With the theme “Breaking Barriers,” we showed our colleagues at Zoom the incredible diversity within the Latinx community and shared our culture through storytelling and conversation. 

It has been an inspiring month of learning and community-building — here are just a few highlights from our Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.

Hear from Somos Zoom members

Our Somos Zoom members come from many different countries and diverse backgrounds, but we’re bound by a common thread and desire to honor our Latinx and Hispanic culture. A few members shared why Somos Zoom is important to them:

Latinx leaders who are ‘breaking barriers’

Looking back at our lineup of guest speakers over the past month, diversity was a key theme in more ways than one. Our guests spoke on a range of topics, from business leadership to personal finance to ancient traditions, and represented a variety of countries, from Ecuador to Mexico to Brazil to Venezuela!

Our Chief Revenue Officer, Ryan Azus, hosted a fireside chat with Manny Medina, co-founder and CEO of Outreach, where they discussed diversity and globalization in the workplace. Medina talked about his experience coming to the U.S. from Ecuador at age 21, and rising through the ranks to become a leader in tech. 

Clockwise from top left: Ryan Azus, Zoom’s chief revenue officer; Manny Medina, co-founder and CEO of Outreach; Somos Zoom co-leaders Anabel Guevara Pozzi and Rosalinda Torres.

Medina also shared his thoughts on diversity and inclusion in the workplace: “The CEO has to fundamentally believe that diversity and inclusion is a superpower — that it has a benefit to the organization, to shareholders, to the cities they operate in, the stakeholders, and to themselves,” Medina said. “My advice to the Latinx community is, don’t let your differences set you back, use your differences to propel you forward. Being different, being unique, being personable, and being light is a true superpower.”

Celia Herrera Rodriguez, artist, co-founder, and co-director of Las Maestra Center at the University of Santa Barbara, talked about Indigenous art and the power of imagery, food, and memory, especially as they relate to Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Chicanx, Mexican, and Latinx Indigenous tradition honoring loved ones and community members who have passed. “If you return to home (your place of origin) and think about your everyday cultural practice, what and how you do things, such as prepare and share food with family and friends, you'll find that each and every one of us brings something of great cultural value to the present moment. This is the season to celebrate that,” she said.

Zoom hosts Uriel Avila (top right) and Mac Candelaria (middle right), with Celia Rodriguez (bottom right), co-founder and co-director of Las Maestra Center, presenting on Día de los Muertos.

Jannese Torres-Rodriguez from the podcast “Yo Quiero Dinero” stopped by to share her journey to becoming an entrepreneur and gaining financial independence. “If you want to learn about money from the lens of a first-gen multicultural experience, maybe being the first in your family to even think about money, [Yo Quiero Dinero] is probably going to be your jam,” she said. She also gave us some key tips for changing your money mindset to create positive perceptions and a sense of empowerment in order to “live your best financial life.”

Clockwise from top left: Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, host of “Yo Quiero Dinero” podcast; Zoom hosts Aglae Cuevas and Maria Barragan.

We also welcomed Leslie Priscilla, founder of Latinx Parenting, a bilingual organization and movement dedicated to working with Latinx families to nurture connection and healing from a fear-based style of parenting she calls “Chancla Culture.” “The#EndChanclaCulture movement has the goal of normalizing the idea that Latinx parents can connect to their children and have peaceful relationships with our children and with ourselves, and rebuild our village … having the space to discuss these issues,” she said.

Clockwise from top left: Zoom hosts Sebastian Hernandez and Stephen Ellis; Leslie Priscilla, founder of Latinx Parenting.

Brothers Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and Don Jose Ruiz led an insightful discussion based on ancient Toltec wisdom, including learnings from their father Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements.” The Ruiz brothers have applied lessons from their father to their own lives and careers, passing along wisdom and tools of their family’s traditions. “We are all the same collective — the beautiful thing about the Toltec tradition is that it’s not a religion, it’s a way of life, and it is our heritage to create art,” Don Jose explained.

Clockwise from top left: Don Jose Ruiz; Somos Zoom co-leader Anabel Guevara Pozzi; Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.; Zoom host William Gil.

Celebrity chef Lorena Garcia brought some flavor and flair to our celebration with an arepas cooking class. As Garcia noted, arepas are a staple in Colombian cuisine, but they were born in her home country of Venezuela. Aided by her trusty cook cam, she gave us a master class in creating cheesy, crispy arepas and reina pepiada.

Clockwise from top left: Close-up of arepa on cook cam; Somos Zoom co-leader Rosalinda Torres; Zoom host Diana Castro; Chef Lorena Garcia.

Finally, Grazi Mendez from ThoughtWorks, a global technology consultancy, joined us for a discussion in her native language, Portuguese. She talked about diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and creating more successful teams.

Clockwise from top left: Zoom host Leandro Martini; Grazi Mendez, head of diversity, equity, and inclusion at ThoughtWorks; Zoom host Ays Schmidt; Ana Martins Jardim, translator.

Muchas gracias to all!

Thank you to all our speakers who shared their time, knowledge, and talents with us! We’d also like to thank Zoom’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, as well as the Somos Zoom members who helped make our Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations a success. Together, we are “breaking barriers” and paving the way to boost diversity, representation, and a sense of belonging for our Latinx and Hispanic community in tech!

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