How Latinas Play an Important Role in Business
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Carmen Castillo headshot

Carmen Castillo was elected to be Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the USHCC in 2018. She drives the direction of the USHCC and advocates on behalf of the Hispanic business community.

She is also the President and CEO of SDI International Corp. (SDI), which she founded in Florida in 1992. The company provides its clients with fully scalable global indirect procurement solutions for the tail-end, centered on Procure-to-Pay and Source-to-Pay.

As part of her responsibilities at the firm, Carmen is hands on with the overall coordination of company operations, global advertising, business development and marketing programs, along with proposal strategies and preparation.

What is your favorite aspect of being a Latina business owner?

There are about 26 million Latinas in the U.S., and the number of Latina-owned firms has shown tremendous growth in the past decade, at a rate over 130 percent. It’s a thrilling time: to be able to see the how Latinas—who will be a third of the U.S. population in a couple of decades—are contributing to, and will continue to have an enormous impact on the U.S. economy, and in policy.

We still have a lot of work to do: make sure that more Latinas have a seat at the table, in the boardroom, on ballots; keep identifying and supporting programs and funding sources that are truly inclusive, and enable other Latinas, and all women with equitable access to the tools, networks, education, and funding we need to align our potential with revenue-making opportunities.

What is the secret to building meaningful professional relationships?

Networking is part of my DNA, and I started my business initially to be a sort of matchmaker between companies and recruiters primarily in the IT industry. Going to industry and matchmaking events attuned me to supplier diversity, and that led to a transformation in from a small, Florida-based staffing company into a global procurement process outsourcing leader.

It was the connections, the conversations, the referrals, and the trust that we built from going to diversity council conferences, meetings and lots, and lots of networking events that truly opened the doors that made all the difference to our growth. Networking and making connections, and paying it forward by facilitating introductions are some of the best investments you’ll ever make, and the best favors you’ll do for anyone.

Who is your favorite female entrepreneur or influencer?

I’m lucky to work with a lot of amazing women from all over the world, through my work at SDI and the organizations that I support, and honestly, everywhere I go! It’s hard to point out one woman. I’ve been inspired by women who lead multi-billion-dollar corporations (or kingdoms!) and are as humble and approachable as they are brilliant.

I’ve been blown away by women who’ve survived war, violence, and abuse, and had the resilience to start businesses that brought transformative change to their communities. I know women who keep going, take care of their families, companies, employees and communities in spite of debilitating grief and illness. I can think of many more, and I know that the list can go on and on. Women are unstoppable.

How is the role of women in the workplace changing?

I really believe that most companies are committed to diversity and inclusion, and in the past couple of years we’ve seen a little progress in the amount of women in C-level jobs and in boardrooms, but we’re still mostly underrepresented, globally. What’s changing is the narrative; we’re more vocal about the gender and the hiring gap: women are less likely than men to be hired into a manager position, and more often than not there is only one woman in a group of top executives in any given company. Trends are moving upward, which is encouraging, but the pace is still slow.

Who inspires you?

This is another tough one; there a lot of people whose work and passion really take my breath away, but one of them is José Andrés, and not just because we share a love for cooking! He’s someone who’s really dedicated to giving back. There’s a lot to admire: he started World Central Kitchen right after the earthquake in Haiti, to help the country. He organizes meals for people in need throughout the globe, and his work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María made him the Humanitarian of the Year—but what really inspired me is that he rose to help, and he never stopped giving. His spontaneous generosity is deeply touching to me.

Source: USHCC

These Companies are Stepping Up in the Fight for Racial Equality
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A hand writing the word Inequality on glass board,

When it comes to encouraging diversity, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, here are some of the companies that are supporting racial equality.

Bank of America

On June 2, Bank of America announced they will be pledging one billion dollars toward community programs and minority-owned businesses over the course of four years. The money was pledged in response to both the death of George Floyd and the impacts of COVID-19. Bank of America hopes this money will further help minority-owned businesses thrive, improve health services in Black communities, and open up positions for more bank employees.

Uber

To encourage its users to support black-owned businesses in response to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter Movement, Uber has announced that it will be waiving all delivery fees coming from black-owned restaurants in the United States and Canada. This process will begin on June 5 and continue throughout the rest of the year. Uber has also stated they are planning to create an initiative specifically designed to aid black-owned restaurants, as well as other businesses.

Additionally, Uber has pledged to create more diversity within their employees.

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group is donating a pledged ten million dollars to help the neighborhoods of Minneapolis rebuild any damage taken in response to the protests. This will include five million of those dollars being donated to the YMCA Equity Innovation Center of Excellence.

UnitedHealth Group has also pledged to pay for all of George Floyd’s children to go to college when the time comes.

Disney

Disney will be donating five million dollars to companies that stand for social justice, including the NAACP, which Disney has pledged two million dollars to. Disney employees are also encouraged to donate to social justice causes, as Disney has promised to match any donation made by a Disney employee.

P & G

The umbrella company for brands, such as Tide and Olay, P & G has created the “Take on Race” fund that will be distributing five million dollars to organizations that will advance education on race, better communities, and improve all healthcare systems. The fund will be working directly with large and small organizations, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Courageous Conversation.

PLANNING FOR PRIDE INSIDE: LGBT Businesses Can Power Your Virtual Pride
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nglcc logo

When the COVID-19 crisis began, the NGLCC said that it has never been more imperative to commit ourselves to shop local, shop LGBT, give back what we can to our community organizations, and support all those around us. We truly are in this together. Pride is the ultimate celebration of togetherness, even if we can’t dance in the streets this summer. From the safety of our homes, we will be able to celebrate all that makes our community so beautiful, so resilient, and so rich with diversity.

Pride 2020 will also be a time to develop innovative ways to celebrate and show our support for our community and our allies. As NGLCC shared with The Advocate when shutdowns began, we are all in the business of “Keeping the LGBTQ Community Financially Strong During COVID-19”. As you, your community organizations, and your companies plan for digital Pride celebrations, take extra care to rely on the resourcefulness of America’s 1.4 million LGBT business owners and the services they can provide to make this Pride season unforgettable:

Pride Gear: Rainbow sunglasses and T-shirts with your company brand on them, table and home/office decorations for your online parties, and everything else you can dream of are available from LGBT-owned custom print shops like Brand|Pride and many more who specialize in making Pride unforgettable.

Streaming Video Service: From online dance parties and celebrity video fundraisers, to Pride conferences, webinars, and corporate group gatherings, there are LGBT-owned event and digital solution companies, like American Meetings, Inc., ready to take your digital Pride celebration to the next level. Don’t forget to also source your graphics and custom videos from certified LGBT designers eager to support your Pride event.

Snacks and Drinks: Whether you want a snack or cocktail to enjoy while watching the online celebrations, or are looking for Pride gifts and giveaways for your clients, friends, or favorite nonprofit, LGBT-owned food vendors, distilleries like Republic Restoratives, and micro-breweries are all available for personal or commercial celebrations ahead.

Best of all: Everything you need can be sourced directly from our own community through the vast network of Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® suppliers and affiliate chambers across America. And helping LGBT Americans through this time is key to helping all Americans succeed. We can never forget that our community includes women, communities of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, veterans, and so many others with whom we must stand in solidarity for a stronger, more inclusive economy on the other side of this outbreak.

This is also the time to remind your favorite brands, TV networks, and magazines that LGBT-inclusive marketing has never been more important. Just because we aren’t waving at your float doesn’t mean we aren’t watching how you engage with our community.  As the economy regains its footing in the months ahead, leading with a commitment to diversity — as a business owner or consumer — can help supercharge our economy and our community back to where we should be with our $917 billion dollar purchasing power. Now is the time to be doubling down on inclusive advertising so that our communities feel seen, supported, and empowered throughout — and long after — COVID-19.

Now, in this unprecedented moment, we can take pride in our purchases by supporting our community through the goods and services that power our 2020 Pride celebrations. Every dollar you and your companies spend with our community helps all of us come out of this moment stronger– and that is something that should give us all pride.

Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell are co-founders of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).  NGLCC is the business voice of the LGBT community, the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people, and the exclusive certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses.

7 Reasons to Participate in a Virtual Job Fair
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Back view of female employee talk with male businessman on webcam laptop conference, woman worker with man employer brainstorm on video call from home, online

Traditional job fairs can be a drag, requiring your recruiters to travel, set up an expensive display, and stay on top of their game when they’re tired and maybe even a bit overwhelmed by a crush of candidates. But if you need a good-sized pool of potential employees, you probably feel you have no choice but to participate.

Actually, however, that’s not completely true. Your business can reap many of the benefits of such an event without some of the drawbacks, thanks to the growth of virtual job fairs.

Here are seven reasons why your company should take part in a virtual job fair:

1. You can interact with potential employees from all over the world and a variety of disciplines.
In today’s job market, you can’t afford to limit your hiring pool to a small geographical area or a particular kind of person. A virtual fair can put you in touch with a huge variety of people quickly and efficiently.

2. Virtual fairs save you money.
When your “booth” is in cyberspace, you don’t have to pay for a big display or for your recruiters’ travel. Your team can manage everything from the comfort of their offices—or from their own homes, if you offer remote work options.

3. You can take advantage of pre-fair promotion.
These events are enthusiastically and broadly advertised by their sponsors, and your participation will allow you to piggyback on that promotion to build your brand—all without paying for advertising. You can’t beat that kind of opportunity to create awareness about your company and what you do.

4. You can manage and target your message.
When you’re participating in an online event, you can be sure that your talking points will be communicated consistently and will reach your intended audience. “All applicants will receive the same information, face the same questions, and confer with the same company representatives,” says an article from Getting Hired.

5. Virtual fairs allow you to use your time more effectively.
“You can have multiple conversations going at the same time with job seekers, so it is less time-consuming than traditional career fairs,” says an article from Right Management.

6. Online fairs let you communicate the way your workers do.
“Whether you’re a millennial, a Gen Xer, or baby boomer, we all communicate online through messaging apps, such as Facebook messenger or through text messaging,” says an article from Brazen. “Online events and online career fairs offer the same form of communication. Take advantage of this shift.”

7. You can guarantee you’re capturing the information you need.
This is another point noted in the Getting Hired article. “A virtual career fair automatically captures the data of applicants, helping to ensure easier contact and follow up after the event, as well as retaining all candidates’ contact information for future roles and pipelines,” the article says.

Your company should explore opportunities to participate in these types of virtual activities. The savings in time and money, along with the ability to extend your recruiting reach nationwide or even worldwide, make them an obvious choice when you’re seeking the most talented workers to help your business grow.

Source: flexjobs.com

Merck Virtual Engagement and Educational Experience and Virtual Business Opportunity Fair
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Merck business fair announcement

Merck’s Virtual Engagement Center will offer two tracks for Diverse Suppliers:

The Merck Global Economic Inclusion & Supplier Diversity Educational Experience (kick-off May 21, 2020) is a webinar series geared toward the developing the knowledge of diverse suppliers in the marketplace.

These monthly sessions will give diverse suppliers a leg-up and get them ready to pitch their capabilities and services, while learning how to set themselves apart and ultimately win the business.

Register Here

The Virtual Business Opportunity Fair, June 17, 2020, one of two LIVE events in 2020, that will provide the opportunity for diverse suppliers to engage with Merck’s supply chain professionals, Prime Suppliers and Advocacy Organizations during a virtual tradeshow.
Register Here

Supplier development and diversity are critical to our mission of Inventing for Life. We are excited to deploy these two exciting programs as part of the Virtual Engagement Center and hope you will join us.

¡Mi Triunfo!
LinkedIn

Meet the Latino and Latina Power Houses that are gaining the world’s attention.

Patty Rodriguez

Patty Rodriguez is best known for her role as on-air talent for KIIS.FM’s morning show with Ryan Seacrest.

“I never saw myself on-the-air,” she tells HipLatina. After 13 years On Air With Ryan Seacrest, she finally became comfortable with telling stories of local heroes. “People on social media would always tell me, ‘oh you don’t have the voice for it’ and I guess I just believed it,” she adds. She didn’t pursue it for a long time because imposter syndrome was holding her back.

Rodriguez is co-founder of “Lil’ Libros”, a bilingual children’s publishing company, and founder of the “MALA by Patty Rodriguez” jewelry line.

Rodriguez found it difficult to find bilingual first concept books she could enjoy reading to her baby, and so she and her childhood friend Ariana Stein came up with the idea of “Lil’ Libros”.

Sources: Hiplatina.com, Lillibros.com, Malabypr.com

Sergio Perez

Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, also known as Checo Perez, has amassed more points than any other Mexican in the history of the F1. But Perez is yet to match his hero Pedro Rodriguez and take the chequered flag in first.

Perez recently committed to a long-term deal with Racing Point beyond 2021. Perez has been with the team since 2013, when he signed with the group, then called Force India. The group reformed as Racing Point in 2018.

“I feel very confident and very motivated with the team going forwards,” Perez said, “with how things are developing, with the future of this team, the potential I see.”

It was also recently announced that the Mexican Grand Prix, an FIA-sanctioned auto race held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, in Mexico City, will stay on the F1 calendar for the next three seasons.

“It was great news,” Perez said of the renewal. “It’s a massive boost on my side to know that for the next three years I’ll be racing home. Three more years to have an opportunity to make the Mexicans very proud.”

Source: formula1.com

Juanes

The 2019 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year gala honored 23-time Latin GRAMMY and two-time GRAMMY-winning singer, composer, musician, and philanthropist Juanes for his creative artistry, unprecedented humanitarian efforts, support of rising artists, and philanthropic contributions to the world.

Juanes (born Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez) is a Colombian musician whose solo debut album Fíjate Bien won three Latin Grammy Awards. According to his record label, Juanes has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.

Source: Latingrammy.com, Voanews.com

Remembering Silvio Horta

Silvio Horta, best known as an executive producer of the hit ABC television series Ugly Betty, died in January. He was 45. Horta was an American screenwriter and television producer widely noted for adapting the hit Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea into the hit series, which ran  2006–2010. Horta served as head writer and executive producer of the series.

Source: Wikipedia

Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Increased Supplier Diversity
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A video conference with a diverse group of co-workers

By Elizabeth Vasquez

As global citizens prepare to fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have been inspired by the individual stories of the women-owned businesses in the WEConnect International community and the resilience of my team and our supporters around the world.

As the CEO of a global nonprofit, I’m used to spending my life in airports and airplanes flying to meetings, speaking at conferences and meeting with our member buyers and the women business owners who supply a wide assortment of goods and services. But my intense travel schedule has ground to a halt as meetings have been canceled or postponed.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be at our WEConnect International South Africa Conference, Scaling Up in 2020 for Sustainable Growth, in Johannesburg. I met several exceptional women business owners and large buyers committed to inclusion.

Many are stepping up to help us all face the coronavirus challenge, like Refilwe Sebothoma, whose company, PBM Group, is supplying face masks. Belukazi Nkala, who owns Khanyile Solutions, is providing protective uniforms. And Judy Sunasky’s company, Blendwell Chemicals, is producing hand sanitizer.

In Singapore, Rithika Gupta is also increasing hand sanitizer production at her company, FP Aromatics, as is Sarah Sayed’s company, BX Merchandise, in the UK. WEConnect International educates and certifies women’s business enterprises based in over 45 countries, and women business owners such as these have registered with us in over 120 countries.

There are approximately 224 million women entrepreneurs worldwide who participate in the ownership of nearly 35 percent of firms in the formal economy. As traditional value chains shift, these business owners can step in to meet buyer demand.

Here in Washington, D.C., the WEConnect International Team has decided to hold our annual Gala and Symposium virtually. This is not a cancellation or a postponement but rather an opportunity for champions of diversity to leverage technology in support of inclusive global growth.

We are committed to creating opportunity in the face of adversity and have engaged our award winners, member buyers, women-owned businesses and strategic partners to join us for our first-ever 24-hour Cyber Gala culminating with the announcement of our Top 10 Global Champions.

Governments are taking the pandemic seriously and are working hard to protect their citizens through social distancing, while meeting the needs of those who fall sick. In addition to the human suffering, the virus has hurt domestic and international business. As a result, governments and business are working together to diversify supply chains to help mitigate future shocks to local and global economies.

 

Elizabeth Vazquez: Advocating for Women-Owned Businesses
LinkedIn
Headshot of Elizabeth Vasquez smiling for the camera

Professional Woman’s Magazine had the opportounity to speak with Elizabeth Vasquez, the founder of WeConnect Internatonal, on her business ventures as well as how to better advocate for Women-Owned Businesses.

Tell us about how you co-founded WEConnect International.

WEConnect International was established in response to a gap in the markets. Several corporate giants in the US and worldwide have committed to supplier diversity and inclusion. They want to buy more from women-owned businesses globally, but when we launched WEConnect International 10 years ago, there was no global database of women suppliers, no way to verify if women actually owned and controlled the companies they lead, and no easy way for women suppliers to connect with large buyers.

Globally, women control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending and make 85 percent of consumer purchasing decisions. And yet, only 1 percent of large corporate and government spend worldwide goes to women-owned businesses. WEConnect International is working to move the needle above 1 percent, generating market access opportunities for women business owners to sell their goods and services to large qualified buyers around the world.

What was your path to writing your book, Buying for Impact: How to Buy from Women and Change Our World?

The written word is a powerful tool to communicate, inform and call to action. I wanted to write something practical for people and organizations who care about women’s economic empowerment, and I was fortunate to have business guru Andrew Sherman co-author the book. Frankly, I wanted to document the WEConnect International journey in one place so more people could learn about the model and about how their purchasing power can change the world.

What women-owned business is making a global impact?

Our certified women-owned businesses are making an impact across the world – from a women-owned business in Mexico that provides transport services, to a South African events manager now working with Avon to an Indian woman who owns a trucking company. Women business owners are working in all fields from agriculture to IT, manufacturing to services. They just need that market knowledge and access to compete and win. WEConnect International certification allows them to leverage a Women-Owned Logo that is respected worldwide.

Who inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by the commitment of our member buyers who have pledged to scale up their inclusive sourcing, leverage WEConnect International to find qualified women suppliers and get more money into the hands of women business owners.

As CEO of WEConnect International, I’ve traveled to every continent other than Antarctica. I am so inspired by the creativity, determination and business savvy of these women business owners. I work as hard as I do because I believe deeply in our mission and I know that our work is changing the lives of these women who just want an equal opportunity to compete. These women inspire me every day to be brave and do more because they are delivering innovations and solutions that make the world better for all of us.

What is your experience as a Hispanic woman leader?

I have worked very hard throughout my career and have achieved a level of success that I never dreamed possible. That being said, I am aware that there are challenges for women and Hispanics throughout our society. Our mission at WEConnect International is to supplier diversity and inclusion – for women, for Hispanics, for ethnic minorities, for the LGBTQ community, for people with disabilities and for other under-utilized groups. As CEO, I am working with our member buyers and our women-owned businesses to make sure that our vision becomes a reality and that everyone has equal access to opportunities.

What advice do you have for other women aspiring to be in leadership positions?

Take risks, follow your dreams, and embrace what the universe opens up to you because your journey could go far beyond what you imagined when you started.

I co-founded WEConnect International at my dining table, and now we are working with more than 100 corporations with more than $1 trillion in annual purchasing power.

Why is WEConnect International important to corporations?

Corporations created WEConnect International as a global peer network committed to doing more business with women suppliers because it’s good for their bottom lines. We give corporations easy access to competitive women-owned business of all sizes, in all sectors, across all major markets to help ensure they are doing business with the world’s best suppliers.

Where do you see WEConnect International in the next 5 years?

By 2025, WEConnect International wants 200,000 women suppliers in our network, 400 buyers sourcing inclusively, 50 countries served on the ground and 150 countries served virtually and corporate and government spend with women-owned businesses to move beyond 1 percent. It’s a heavy lift, but we can do it, especially as more and more people find out.

A Remote Manager’s Guide to Successful Teams
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Remote team working from home in a video conference and manager communicates via video call communication with her team using laptop

Being away from your employees can create its own challenges when you work remotely. It can be difficult to gauge how employees are doing and what they are getting accomplished, which can cause a tremendous amount of stress.

Ryan Malone, the founder of Smartbug Media, has run his company 100% remotely since he opened in 2008. To be successful as on off-site manager, Malone offers his top four tips.

1) Adjust Work Hours

Working remotely has different challenges on different work styles, ways of efficiency, and in decreasing commute time. Working a 9-to-5 work day may work best for you but may not be the best way for your employees. Assess the needs of the company with how your employees work best to find the work hours that would be the best for them and the company.

2) Keep Your Documents Updated

Keeping track of your business’ various tasks and who is completing them can get confusing. Implement a system that will track the status of ongoing projects and tasks. This way, employees can easily locate what step of the task is being completed and what they need to implement for the next step.

3) Connect and Bond

Getting to know your co-workers is important for work morale, teamwork, and finding ways to best communicate. Talking about work is important, but it doesn’t have to be the only conversation that you ever have. Create a space where your employees can have a “water cooler” of sorts. Creating chatrooms and hosting virtual non-work-related events for your employees to attend will aid in strengthening these relationships with your co-workers.

4) Exercise

Exercise is not only important for your physical health but also for your mental health. Ryan Malone uses exercise as a means of health and to relieve stress. It can be difficult to directly gauge where your company is at from the comfort of your own home, but you need to be able to stay calm and think clearly to proceed. Exercising is a great way to keep your mind sharp and your anxiety levels down.

Cinco De Mayo’s True History
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cinco de mayo

By Sarah Mosqueda

As we shift into warm, drinking-on-a-patio weather, you might be looking forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo has become popularized as the drinking-on-a-patio holiday. But the origins of Cinco de Mayo have less to do with Tequila and more to do with unexpected victory.

“It really is an underdog story,” says Ruben Espinoza, Assistant Professor & Director of

Latinx and Latin American Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California.

Cinco de Mayo is often incorrectly billed as Mexican Independence Day, but that’s September 16. Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla.

In the early 1860s after the Mexican Reform War, Mexico had fallen into debt to France, Britain and Spain. As a result, Mexican President Benito Juárez placed a moratorium on repayments of interest on foreign loans. This prompted Spain, Britain and France to send joint forces into Mexico. Spain and Britain withdrew, however, when they learned French Emperor, Napoleon III, was planning to overthrow the Juárez government and conquer Mexico. French troops, led by General Charles Ferdinand Latrille de Lorencez, headed toward Mexico City. But first they had to go through Puebla.

“The French forces were very equipped,” Espinoza says.

In contrast, the Mexican troops, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, were more of a militia than an army made up mostly of farmers. And yet, in a victorious battle that took place on May 5, 1862, Mexican forces beat the French.

Juárez wasted no time declaring the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla a national holiday known as “Battle of Puebla Day” or “Battle of Cinco de Mayo.” Some sources claim the declaration of the holiday was made as early as May 9, 1862.

“That battle wasn’t the end of the war,” Espinoza says, “France occupied Mexico for five years.”

The French retreated for a year but ultimately overtook Mexico when they returned in 1863, where they remained until 1867.

“And there is certainly French influence in Mexican culture today as result. For example, with the pastries,” says Espinoza.

Mexicans and Mexican Americans may have grown up dipping orejas in coffee or hot chocolate, but these crunchy, buttery pastries are known as palmiers, or “palm trees” in France where they originated.

Today, in the city of Puebla, more than 20,000 people celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a civic parade routed along Boulevard Cinco de Mayo. There is also a historic reenactment of the battle. But beyond Puebla, it isn’t a big holiday in modern Mexican culture.

“It is not celebrated on large scale in Mexico anywhere outside of Puebla,” Espinoza says.

Cinco de Mayo is a very popular holiday in the United Sates, however. There are several opinions about how it fell into favor here.

Some point to the fact that during the time period the Battle of Puebla took place, the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War. Napoleon III was rumored to have considered supporting the confederacy, and a French takeover of Mexico could have possibly made Mexico a Confederate-friendly country. The news of the victory of Battle of Puebla might have been a moral boost for West Coast Latinos living in free states.

Others believe President Roosevelt’s attempt to improve relations with Latin American countries with the creation of the “Good Neighbor Policy” in 1933 may have had an influence. The holiday was also claimed by Latino civil rights activists in the 1960s as a way to celebrate their heritage.

Beginning in the 1980s and on into the aughts, liquor and beer companies began to capitalize on the holiday as way to market to Spanish speaking audiences.

Fast forward to present day, where Cinco de Mayo has become predominately associated with margaritas and sombrero-wearing.

But Espinoza stresses Cinco de Mayo isn’t a time to perpetuate inaccurate Mexican stereotypes.

“Wearing a costume isn’t celebrating someone’s culture,” he says, “It’s actually demeaning it…don’t treat is an opportunity to wear a costume that you think represents a population of an ethnic community.”

There are actually plenty of respectful ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo that don’t involve drinking or fake mustaches.

Often, museums and parks in areas with large Hispanic populations host family friendly activities on the 5th of May. For example, Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, hosts an annual Cinco de Mayo Festival that features traditional Folklorico dancing and Mariachi music performances, along with face painting and crafts.

“We will be having a Cinco de Mayo event at Chapman,” Espinoza said, “And one of the good things about having it on a university campus is there is going to be a lecture to go along with the celebration.”

The city of Los Angeles sponsored a Cinco de Mayo Parade & Festival at Oakwood Recreation Park in Venice, California, as well. The festival included Aztec Dancers, Mariachi, a classic car show, the Venice High School Band and of course, Mexican food.

“It’s a holiday that is big in US now,” Espinoza says, “and it seems like it’s here to stay. As individuals, it is important for us to learn some of that history.”

How One Latina Entrepreneur Founded An Award-Winning, Female-Led PR Company
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Natalie Boden the founder and President of BODEN is setting on her desk in her home office

She dreamed of becoming a librarian. As a child, Natalie Boden would spend hours organizing books on her shelves. She even developed her own card catalog filing system. The Honduran native today is the founder and President of BODEN, a public relations and social media agency which counts McDonald’s, Target and UnitedHealthcare among its clients.

The bibliophile little girl has grown up to become quite the successful woman. PRWeek inducted her into the 2020 “Hall of Femme” class earlier this year. She’s on the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation committee and serves on the Board of Directors for CMC, the Culture Marketing Council.

Boden even now maintains a collection of books, including sections for business, female empowerment and children’s literature. Calling her library “my pride and joy,” she admits to still keeping a card catalog file.

In this interview, the Miami-based business leader talks about her path to entrepreneurship, the importance of “leading with culture” to reach the U.S. Hispanic marketplace and what her firm is doing to help brands during the COVID-19 crisis.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

The part of you that wanted to be a librariando you see her dreams in your business work today?

The love of books, of stories, of words that draw you in, are certainly part of what we do today at BODEN. We use words to sell, which I think is the perfect blend of what I loved as a child—storytelling and selling. Other than a librarian, I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur. I had great examples in my parents and my grandmother. That’s what drove me to set up lemonade stands when I was seven and sell cakes at my parents’ store. No matter what I would have done in life—even as a librarian—I would’ve figured out a way to generate revenue from it. It’s in my blood.

How did you start your firm? 

It started organically, on my own, a client or two. My first client was The Miami Parking Authority, $1,000 per month. I was subcontracted by a larger agency. I then got our first set of small retainer clients and hired my first employee. We’ve grown organically since then. When we won our first pieces of Fortune 500 business, Target and then McDonald’s, we were in a 900-square-foot office. Several years later, we won the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s “PR Agency of the Year” and then PR News’ “Best Places to Work” in 2018. This year, we’ve won a PRWeek “Hall of Femme” Award, as well as signing on DishLATINO and L’Oréal’s Dermablend. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but I’m certainly proud to be where we are today.

As an independent PR company, what’s the competitive advantage that helped you grow from a team of three during the last financial crisis to 25?

We use our independence to our advantage. Our clients often say we are the perfect blend of the standards of a global agency, with the creativity and speed of a boutique agency.

What do we do well? We understand how to generate trust. You cannot buy your way to trust, you must earn it. Many brands, when thinking multicultural or Hispanic, immediately turn to paid media and advertising. And whereas that is extremely important, our approach is an earned media-first approach. All our initiatives, whether they be sales-driven or purpose-driven, generate earned media and build brand advocacy. We are trusted by the press, by influencers, by organizations, by community leaders. That gives us an edge.

Your company’s stated mission is “to help global brands lead with culture.” What does “lead with culture” mean? 

There’s a famous quote by author Shaun Hicks: “Only someone wishing to disappear would ever strive to fit in.” When it comes to Hispanic, many brands want to develop a Spanish language ad, hire a Hispanic celebrity, sponsor a soccer tournament, or develop a recipe with a “Hispanic” ingredient. Suddenly trying to fit in and be safe is the strategy.

Leading with Culture is about being bold, being first out the gate with an insight that is true and authentic and inspiring. And to lead, and to be bold, you have to ask yourself, “What is the legacy you want to leave with this segment? What is the long-term purpose-driven strategy?” Leave one-off Hispanic Heritage celebrations to the followers.

What does diversity and inclusion mean for you on a granular level?

D&I is not about checking the box. It’s a question of what an organization believes in, and the impact it has on its stakeholders: employees, consumers, communities and suppliers.

As marketers and communicators helping support some of the leading brands in the world, we have the ability to continue to invest in the sectors of society that are the most vulnerable, that are in need of our help. It’s not a creative imperative. It’s a moral imperative and a business imperative, because by investing in these groups we will not only continue to prosper as businesses but also as a society and a country.

Does your emphasis on diversity have to do with your past? 

There is no doubt that my upbringing has to do with what I do today. Growing up with an English father and a Honduran mother of Palestinian descent made our household incredibly multicultural. I didn’t really know it at the time, but I realize it now.

My father instilled that love of culture in all of us. I was reading The Economist by the time I was 12. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and we were there the following year. Whether it was in my African American Literature or European Politics class, I knew I was somehow going to do something that helped others understand the importance of culture. What that was, I didn’t know.

What’s the worst day of your career? 

A few weeks ago—when all came to a grinding halt. The lockdown began as a result of COVID-19, and, as business leaders, we were faced with an avalanche of challenges. That first week I had to make tough decisions, plan for all contingencies, make sure our employees were safe, ensure continued excellence service to our clients, while turning outwards and asking ourselves how we could support our Hispanic community—all while ensuring my own family was safe.

The thought of having to lay off personnel, furlough or cut salaries was dreadful. I ended that first week with my head buried in my hands, thinking of all that could happen. Thankfully, we’ve been able to ensure that no furloughs, layoffs or cuts have had to be done, except to my salary.

I can’t think of any other time in history as bleak as this one—and I lived through the dot-com crash, 9/11, and the 2008 recession. And much like a tsunami, it came in one big blow.

But as they say, “Anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best lead when the plan falls apart.”

What’s the best day in your career? 

For Boss’s Day last year, I received a gift from the team at BODEN—a pair of Reebok shoes that read “It’s a Man’s World” but with the words crossed out. It was great to realize how well our team knows me. I love sneakers and I’m a staunch feminist. There were also several balloons with a personal message from each person on it. As leaders we strive to be the best we can be for the business, our clients, our employees, our communities, our families—and we know we don’t always get it right. In that moment I thought, “I must be doing something right.”

Talk about the launch of BODEN’s Covid-19 Hispanic Public Relations Resource. 

It’s important to support our Hispanic community, and today they need the help of both the private and public sector more than ever before. So, we did what we do best and built a PR resource. We brought our team, friends in the media and Hispanic celebrities together to launch the COVID-19 Hispanic Public Relations Resource. This resource provides insights from the top Hispanic journalists, influencers and experts from around the country. It also includes a downloadable list of stakeholders including media companies, celebrities, organizations and social media influencers.

It will help brands broaden their message of health and wellness to the right stakeholders, helping them make a positive impact across the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community constitutes an economic, social and political force in the U.S. Nevertheless, it faces a great threat from the COVID-19 crisis as a result of various socio-economic factors, including lack of health insurance and lack of trust in the healthcare system. This resource is our way of giving brands insights to the most important voices in our community right now, as well as ways brands could help support this 50+ million Hispanic segment.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

HNM BLM

 
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