Sole Latina art studio owner in Gwinnett gets creative after losing 80% of business during pandemic
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Two children painting ceramic art

“Amarillo, rojo, azul, rosado,” six children, all under the age of 10, repeated after Joana Pratt, co-owner of Art for Life in Buford, meaning yellow, red, blue and pink in Spanish.

The children learned the words to different colors in Spanish and more during a recent Monday afternoon at the studio while dancing and singing and doing all sorts of activities until they finally settled down to work on their Frida Kahlo inspired self-portraits in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Children of all ages and of all backgrounds visit Art for Life four days a week for Pratt’s one-of-a-kind classes, where children learn to create art while also learning to speak Spanish.

Normally the studio would be filled with people listening to music as they painted, especially on the weekends for “Paint ‘N Sip” events, but over the last few months Pratt has had to rethink how she provides art classes for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is the only Latina art studio owner in Gwinnett County, opening it along with her husband, Timothy Pratt, in December 2017.

Joana Pratt said the first year they opened the studio after moving to Gwinnett from Las Vegas was very hard, as this was the second time in eight years they were starting over someplace new. However, the second year was “a little better.”

“And then the third year business was growing in February and March (of 2020),” Joana Pratt said. “We started getting booked all of April and May. Then on March 13 everything shut down. I had to close the studio. I started to try to learn how to navigate again in a new situation for me.”

At 52 years old, Joana Pratt said she had to learn how to use social networks like Facebook and Zoom to conduct business. Timothy Pratt said they lost about 80% of the business within one month of the shutdown.

“We’re not even starting over,” Timothy Pratt said. “We’re just trying to survive now.”

When the couple moved to Gwinnett, they quickly noticed the county’s growing Hispanic community and saw an opportunity to transform Joana Pratt’s dream of owning an art studio into reality.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that as of 2019 Hispanics make up 21.7% of the population in Gwinnett. But in October 2019, the Atlanta Regional Commission stated in its 2050 population projections for metro Atlanta that the largest group, at 28% of Gwinnett’s total population, is expected to be Hispanic. Whites will be the third largest group, making up 18% of the population.

“I thought opening an art studio would be a good idea for me,” Joana Pratt said. “I’m bilingual. This county is growing in the Hispanic community, and they don’t have a place to do art in their own language or bilingual. I thought it could be really good access for the community, but I didn’t want it to be like everybody else does it.”

Continue on to The Union Journal to read the full article.

An Online Store is Using Latino Humor — and Gaining Fans
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Latina and Latino wearing shirt with Sugar Skulls

By Cynthia Silva for NBC News

An online shop is standing out for its use of funny and unconventional phrases that resonate with many Latinos, and it’s gaining a fan base on social media.

“We try to touch on things that are funny and sincere. I think that resonates with people,” says House of Chingasos founder Carlos Ugalde.

The House of Chingasos focuses on tailoring their designs to reflect the joys of being Latino — with sayings from sweet childhood rhymes to sarcastic takes on how Latinos are seen.

(Image Credit – NBC News)

“We try to touch on things that are funny and sincere. I think that resonates with people — they go, ‘Oh my gosh, I remember chingasos!’” Carlos Ugalde, 49, told NBC News. Chingasos is slang for a beating or going to blows with someone, although it can mean a harsher curse word to some.

One T-shirt reads “Cafecito Y Chisme” (coffee and gossip), while a woman’s T-shirt reads “Tamale Squad,” with “La jefa” (female boss) underneath. A man’s T-shirt reads “Menudo wrecking machine,” a reference to a popular dish made with tripe.

Another item refers to “colita de rana,” which literally means frog’s tail but is really known as part of a Spanish-language nursery rhyme to console children after they’ve been hurt or when they’re sick. “Sana, sana, colita de rana (Heal, heal, little frog’s tail …),” the rhyme starts.

“It pulls on the heartstrings and people connect with that,” Ugalde said about some of his phrases. Another T-shirt makes a political point — reading “I only look illegal,” with the phrase #Deportracism underneath the stark phrase.

The Las Vegas-based store has nearly 117,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, where they often share memes that Latinos can relate to. The actor Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya, the former professional boxer, have become fans of the store’s shirts.

Tread the original article at NBC News.

 

A Guide To Rebuilding Your Small Business For Latino Entrepreneurs
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by CNBC

The Covid-19 crisis has hit Latino small businesses particularly hard, including not being able to access PPP funding at a similar rate to other business owners. And many individual proprietors or small, family-owned businesses may feel the impact of Covid more directly, as the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Latino community.

If you’re a Latino entrepreneur or small business owner, know that you’re not alone, and that there are tools, funding, and mentorship available to help you succeed through this crisis. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some essential tools that can help Latino small business owners rebuild and thrive.

Social media & digital tools

Using social media to your maximum advantage is a cost-effective way to market your business, strengthen customer relationships, and sell through new channels. Social media is an indispensable tool to help level the playing field and grow your business during good and challenging times.

Business accelerators

Start-up accelerators can help early-stage entrepreneurs find training, mentorship, resources, and potential funding for their new ventures. Some are focused exclusively on Latino-owned start-ups, and can be found in metro areas throughout the United States.

Networking & business support groups

The Latino small business community enjoys support at the local and national level from a variety of organizations that help Hispanic business owners find the resources they need to succeed.

A good starting point: Most major cities have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that can help you access local support, and some heavily Latino-populated cities, such as Miami, have many other networking groups.

Read the full article at CNBC.

Tips for Leading a Strong and Diverse Team During a Pandemic
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By Mariano Garcia,
Civil Trial Attorney, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a healthcare and economic crisis across the country and around the globe. It has also posed some difficult questions for businesses and their workers, like law firms and their attorneys and staff.

There has been a wide range of issues stemming from the pandemic. As an employer with offices throughout Florida, we also have first-hand experience with some of the complications caused by the economic downturn. At the same time, we also understand how important it is to maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace. This is an essential part of our identity as a law firm, which we believe helps us better serve the people and businesses we represent.

Businesses, including law firms, must understand that employment-related and other decisions made now in response to the pandemic can have a long-term impact. They should be mindful of how those moves can affect their ability to recruit and retain a diverse and capable workforce.

Below are some essential tips for weathering COVID-19 without jeopardizing your team.

Keep Diversity in Mind When Considering Cutbacks.

Mariano Garcia
Mariano Garcia

The crisis has unfortunately forced some employers to trim their payrolls by cutting the headcount. Still, it is vital to retain a diverse and inclusive workforce during the pandemic and to be able to retain talent when economic conditions improve.

Company leaders can prioritize diversity by keeping it at top-of-mind when deciding whom to lay off and whom to keep on the job. They should ensure that such decisions are based on objective criteria rather than subjective factors that may make diverse employees more susceptible to the termination.

Leaders can also combat potential biases by being mindful of assignment creation, especially as many employees continue to work from home. Providing your diverse workforce with opportunities to work on important projects or tasks can go a long way in helping all to build confidence and experience on the job.

Understand That Everyone Has Different Personal Obligations

The pandemic, school closures, and the shift to telework can be incredibly stressful for working parents and people who are caring for the elderly or other family members.

It is crucial to acknowledge that everyone has different cultural and personal obligations, and it is especially important to show a commitment to working with employees during this time of anxiety and uncertainty. Allowing for flexible time off during the week and alternative scheduling arrangements can play a huge role in easing the burden for many employees.

Supplement In-Person Networking with Resources for Remote Profile Building

Although social distancing means many people are staying home, it does not mean that all career-building and networking opportunities need to be put on pause.

Law firms and other businesses should already be thinking about helping people bolster their online networking efforts. Tutorials on leveraging Linkedin, getting involved in webinars and other events, and participating in professional organizations can ultimately lead to maintaining and/or expanding contacts.

Internal marketing departments can play a crucial role in this training and development. It is also important to implement standards for tracking these efforts to ensure that they pay off in the long run.

Following the above tips can help all business leaders maintain a strong and diverse team of employees.

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA is a Florida-based personal injury law firm that has represented thousands of clients with car accident, medical malpractice, brain injury and numerous other injury claims.

With few Black and Hispanic executives, Lyft and Uber face long road to hailing a racially diverse workforce
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Ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber face a long road in creating more racial equity at the top of their organizations, a new USA TODAY analysis shows.

A snapshot of leadership at both companies illustrates their ongoing struggle to boost the number of African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, who are sharply underrepresented in nearly every part of the technology industry except in administrative roles.

Lyft has made progress in bringing aboard Black executives, surpassing rival Uber and its Big Tech counterparts, according to 2018 figures, the most recent government data available.

Six out of 49, or 12%, of senior leaders at the company – individuals within two reporting levels of the CEO – are Black, compared with 3% of senior leadership at Facebook, 3.4% at Google and 2.4% at Uber.

A Look into Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses – Fresh statistics you should know
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The U.S. Census Bureau recently released new estimates showing 1.1 million employer firms were owned by women and 1.0 million by minorities. According to the 2018 Annual Business Survey (ABS), covering year 2017, 5.6 percent (322,076) of all U.S. businesses were Hispanic-owned and 6.1 percent (351,237) were owned by veterans.

Additional statistics released include:
In 2017, the sector with the most women-owned businesses 16.9 percent (192,159) were in the healthcare and social assistance industry, followed by professional, scientific and technical services 16.4 percent (185,649), and 11.7 percent (132,894) in the retail trade industry.

The top sectors for Hispanic-owned firms were construction with 15.6 percent (50,187) of all firms, followed by accommodation and food services 13.0 percent (41,817), and professional, scientific and technical services 10.6 percent (34,292). Hispanic firms in these top three industries employed approximately 1.2 million workers, had receipts totaling approximately $130.9 billion and an annual payroll of approximately $35.8 billion.

There were 555,638 Asian-owned businesses, with 23.9 percent (132,698) in the accommodation and food services sector. Asian-owned firms had the largest receipts ($814.8 billion) among minority groups.

Black or African Americans owned 124,004 firms in 2017 with 32.0 percent (39,714) of these firms in the healthcare and social services industry.

The ABS, sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), and conducted jointly with the Census Bureau combined the Survey of Business Owners, the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, the Business R&D and Innovation for Microbusinesses Survey, and the innovation section of the Business R&D and Innovation Survey. The ABS measures research and development for microbusinesses, innovation and technology, and provides annual data on select economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners by sex, ethnicity, race and veterans status. Additional data on research and development and innovation will be released by NCSES in the coming months.

Source: census.gov

10 Essential Sites for Hispanic Business Owners
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young Hispanic businessperson scrolling through phone and smiling

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Hispanic small business owners are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the US.

The number of Hispanic business owners grew 34% over the past 10 years as compared to 1% for all U.S. business owners, according to a recent study from Stanford University.

The following are 10 resources that advance, promote, support, and help Hispanic businesses to grow and thrive.

 

  1. United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)

The mission of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is “To foster Hispanic economic development and to create sustainable prosperity for the benefit of American society.” The USHCC promotes the economic growth, development, and interests of Hispanic-owned businesses. It also advocates on behalf of 260 major American corporations and serves as the umbrella organization for more than 250 local chambers and business associations nationwide. Twitter: @USHCC

  1. The Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce (HRCOC)

The Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce represents U.S. Hispanic retail businesses and their interests and priorities to the government and in the media. With Accredited Alliances in every state, the HRCOC serves members of every size and in many retail sectors, such as supermarkets and food & beverage distributors. Various membership plans are available. Twitter: @RetailChamber

  1. Hispanic Association of Small Businesses (H.A.S.B.)

The Hispanic Association of Small Business provides minority business owners, and aspiring business owners, with educational materials, business workshops, and English workshops to improve the success of the community. By advocating on behalf of individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, the H.A.S.B. works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against socially disadvantaged or underprivileged small businesses. Facebook: @hasb.org

  1. Hispanic Small Business Center from Hello Alice

The Hispanic Small Business Center is a microsite of Hello Alice, a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. Cofounded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, Hello Alice encompasses a community of more than 200,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe. The Hispanic Small Business Center partners with enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions to help grow small and medium-sized businesses. The website provides resources, how-to guides, and research. Twitter: @HelloAlice

  1. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses and helps Hispanic business owners access and connect with capital, contracts, and markets. The MBDA also advocates and promotes minority-owned business with elected officials, policymakers, and business leaders. Twitter: @USMBDA

  1. National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members to encourage supplier diversity. You apply for NMSDC certification through one of its regional councils. The organization connects more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to a network of corporate members who wish to purchase their products, services, and solutions. The NMSDC corporate membership includes many public and privately-owned companies, as well as healthcare companies, colleges, and universities. Twitter: @NMSDCHQ

  1. Grants.gov

Grants.gov is an e-government initiative operating under the Office of Management and Budget. The system contains information on more than 1,000 federal grant programs and vets grant applications for federal agencies. By registering with the website, Hispanic and other business owners can apply for any grants available, as long as the company meets the requirements of the grant. To apply you will need a DUNS Number, which is a unique nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Twitter: @grantsdotgov

  1. Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR)

The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in corporate America at a level proportionate with Hispanic economic contributions in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance. With helpful programs, research, and virtual seminars, the HACR is committed to making a difference in the way Hispanics are treated and perceived in Corporate America. Twitter: @HACRORG

  1. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is a Congressional Member organization, governed by the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community. The Caucus is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Twitter: @HispanicCaucus

  1. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the U.S. LULAC strives to improve the economic condition, education, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs. With more than 1,000 councils nationwide, the organization’s advisory board consists of Fortune 500 companies, which fosters stronger partnerships between corporate America and the Hispanic community. Twitter: @LULAC

Source: score.org

Retired Air Force Master Sergeant Credits Military Skills as Foundation for His Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® Business
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Steven Cordova headshot

Steven Cordova, Modesto resident and veteran, recently launched operations as a franchisee with the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

The 43-year-old services California’s Central Valley which includes Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, Oakdale, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Stockton, Lodi, Merced, Atwater, Bridgeport, Sonora, Mariposa, Yosemite Valley and Los Banos.

Cordova was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force for 24 years.  He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, Travis Air Force Base in California and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. In addition, he was stationed internationally at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, Lajes Field in Azores, Portugal and Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan.

“I always had the ambition to operate my own business and the military provided me with the tools and discipline necessary in business,” said Cordova. “With Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ startup program and franchisee support system, I knew that achieving my goal was obtainable. I look forward to what the future brings and the challenges ahead because I know that with the foundation the military has given me and the corporate team at my side, I will be successful.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for more than 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its eighth consecutive year as No. 1 in its category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past eight years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com

Sacramento Hispanic Chamber launches tech assistance program for minority-owned businesses
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Business buildings in Sacramento

The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is launching a wide lineup of resources and technical assistance to help minority-owned businesses during the pandemic.

The chamber announced the launch of its “#JuntosSacramento” campaign, which translates to “together Sacramento,” on Monday. The campaign is aimed at bringing together all corners of Sacramento’s Latino community, which includes immigrants and people who draw their heritage from a mix of countries and languages, said Cathy Rodriguez Aguirre, CEO of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber.

Minority-owned businesses have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, as they may have lower cash reserves and less access to banking resources to buoy their businesses.

The effort includes one-on-one consulting, resources on digital marketing and financial planning during the pandemic and job training programs.

The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber received about $615,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, dollars for the initiative. Those dollars arrived from a $3 million grant that the Sacramento Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative received from the city of Sacramento. The Sac IEDC was formed two years ago, and includes 15 groups within it like the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber and several property business improvement districts.

“Hispanic and minority owned businesses have been a historic pillar in the growth of Sacramento and our mission is to help the region recover from the impacts of Covid-19 by supporting the community through increased services and new, innovative programs,” Rodriguez Aguirre said, in a prepared statement. “Through our partnership with SAC IEDC we will be able to help foster more business development and spur economic growth.”

The program includes a free, six-part webinar series on topics like digital marketing, financial planning and disaster preparedness. The series starts on Oct. 23 and runs every other Friday, and will be conducted in Spanish and English.

Continue to the Sacramento Business Journal to read the full article.

McDonald’s Is Awarding $1 Million In Scholarships To Assist Hispanic Students During Pandemic
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Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education loans

McDonald’s is proud to announce the company’s “HACER® More Scholarship,” that is providing 100 additional scholarships for Hispanic students as an extension of the annual HACER® National Scholarship.

Through HACER, McDonald’s is committing $1 million to assist Hispanic students this academic year, by helping alleviate the stress ofhigher education costs.

According to the Pew Research Center, half of Hispanics said they worry daily or nearly every day about financial issues like paying their bills, the amount of debt they carry and the cost of health care, and more 1 . The increased financial strain caused by the pandemic has also created uncertainty as parents and students work to fund and continue higher education. As a result, McDonald’s created the “HACER® More Scholarship” to help more students pursue college degrees despite the pandemic. So, in 2020, 100 additional scholarships will be awarded, bringing the total to 130, versus 30 in 2019. The additional scholarship recipients will be selected from the 2019 HACER National Scholarship pool of applicants that meet the existing criteria for the scholarship and will be enrolled in school for spring of 2021. “HACER® More Scholarship” recipients will be selected in October, allowing them to use the funds for the current academic year.

“Despite the difficulty of this time, students are showing their resiliency by continuing their education ,” said Santiago Negre, HACER® scholarship committee judge and head of McDonald’s National Hispanic Consumer Market Committee. “McDonald’s and our owner/operators are committed to our communities and customers, so we are honored to contribute to the educational pursuits of Hispanic students through the HACER® National Scholarship program, having done so for the last 35 years.”

The McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is one of the largest programs committed to college scholarships. Since 1985, it has awarded $31.5 million to Hispanic college students pursuing their higher education dreams. This year, in addition toreceiving scholarships, the 30 winners of the 2020 HACER® National Scholarship received a “tech backpack” that included a laptop, wireless mouse, and headphones—some of the tools needed to succeed in a virtual learning environment.

“It’s a huge relief to know even with the difficulties we’re all facing this year, like adapting to a new way of learning, keeping ourselves and our families safe, and more, that I no longer have to worry about the burden of tuition costs thanks to McDonald’s,” 1. “Coronavirus Economic Downturn Has Hit Latinos Especially Hard.” Pew Re search Center, Washington D.C. (August 4, 2020) https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2020/08/04/coronavirus-economic-downturn-has-hit-latinos-especially-hard/ said Vladimir Rosales, one of the 2020 HACER® National Scholarship winners, awarded $100,000 to attend San Jose State University in California. “I’m thankful that this year McDonald’s is not only supporting me in achieving my higher education goals but is also giving another 100 Hispanic students the same opportunity.”

The McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is just one of many company initiatives created to educate the next generation of youth. This includes the Black & Positively Golden Scholarships for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship program for Asian and Pacific-Islander American students. The Archways to Opportunity program for crew gives eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants the ability to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education/career advising services and learn English as a second language.

Hispanic college-bound high school seniors and their parents are encouraged to visit mcdonalds.com/hacer for additional college resources in English and Spanish and for details on how to apply for the McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship.

The scholarship application period for the next academic year opens on October 5, 2020 and runs through February 3, 2021.
HACER and McDonald's logo
ABOUT McDONALD’S
McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to nearly 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook. www.facebook.com/mcdonalds .

The Importance of Employee Resource Groups
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Written by: Patty Juarez, head of Wells Fargo Diverse Segments, Commercial Banking with introductory remarks from Ramiro A. Cavazos, President and CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

For the past ten years, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) has conducted the only Hispanic Employee Resource Group (ERG) Summit & Corporate Challenge in the nation. The USHCC was proud to award Wells Fargo and its ERG “Latin Connection” First Place in the competition during our 2020 National Conference.

More than 100 corporations have competed since our inaugural event, proving that ERGs are more ready than ever to provide value and impact their company’s growth. Since 2010, winners including Wells Fargo’s Latin Connection – have been recognized as the best ERG in the country during our National Conference. The USHCC continues to recognize the growing importance of corporate ERGs who increasingly demonstrate they have tangible impacts on employee growth and leadership development, community service, and create a strong network within each corporation where employees – especially employees of color— can meet, connect, and learn from each other.

Congratulations to Patty Juarez, Josephina Reyes, and the entire Wells Fargo Team at Latin Connection for their unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and employee growth.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”Roberto Clemente

Supporting employees, communities, and business.
Employee resource groups (also known as ERGs, affinity groups, or business network groups) are networks of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics, life experiences, or ally aspirations. These groups are voluntary and employee-led, with a goal of fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. These groups are a key component for a business’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. As president of Wells Fargo’s Latin Connection, I have seen first-hand the positive impact these networks can have on our Latino employees.

According to John LaVeck, program head of the Employee Resource Network program in the Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion Office at Wells Fargo, “Employee Resource Networks are formed around market and historically under-represented segments in leadership, and provide employees with personal and professional development, mentoring, leadership engagement, networking, and community outreach opportunities.”

From a career standpoint, an ERG provides mentorship opportunities to its members. Senior leaders are invited to share insights on their personal career journeys, allowing members to connect and seek their counsel. Sometimes, these connections mature into mentorships and sponsorships. Group members also have access to unique professional development opportunities, webinars, speaker series, and other educational opportunities. Many organizations host workshops aimed at enhancing and developing the skillsets of its members.

ERGs provide a number of benefits to a business and its employees.
 Internally, they provide networking platforms that encourage a sense of belonging. As businesses strive to create a sense of community among diverse employees, ERGs can often times be a bridge that closes gaps. They also open communications channels for leaders to foster and build involvement and engagement among employees and leadership. Allies are also key to impactful ERGs. Incorporating allies in the work allows for further education and expanded reach of an ERG. Senior leadership involvement is key to reinforcing a company’s commitment to supporting ERGs and all employees across diversity dimensions.

 Externally, ERGs have tremendous positive impact in diverse communities. At Wells Fargo, our Latin Connection members log more than five-thousand volunteer hours annually. It is amazing to see these teams making a difference in the communities where we live and work.

 Culture is another key to a strong ERG. It is often the shared stories and experiences that bring people together. We celebrate shared values, traditions, food, music, and backgrounds. In Latin Connection members celebrate shared holidays and the history of contributions of Latinos in our country and community. These celebrations allow members the opportunity to connect and celebrate who they are and what they represent. These celebrations also welcome and invite others to learn and share in the Latino culture.

ERG members are not one dimensional; many identify with multiple dimensions. It is important for ERGs to explore intersections. For instance, within Latin Connection, the group co-hosted an event with the Veterans Network, which celebrated the contribution of Latinos in armed forces. Group members represent a number of generations, including a growing number of millennials, and many are bi-cultural and have other diversity dimensions. It is important to meet members where they are in those areas of intersection, while addressing individual needs so they feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.

 The Latino market often represents a significant opportunity for businesses. ERGs represent the voice of a community or group – lending authenticity, value, and life experiences to shape the narrative for new strategies, testing products, and informing marketing campaigns, while ensuring our business is providing what the community wants and needs. This allows ERGs to also have a significant financial impact to a business’ the bottom line. Employee resource groups are key to the engagement and motivation of members and to business success. These groups will continue playing an important part of corporate culture and success.

In times like today, when COVID-19 is impacting the ability to be together in person, these groups serve as a critical bridge to maintaining and making new connections within our companies and our communities.

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