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Embracing Our Roots: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

This is a podcast episode titled, Embracing Our Roots: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. The summary for this episode is: <p>Join host Joelle Garcia as she shines a spotlight on 'Somos-Kind: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.' Explore the origin and purpose of the Somos-Kind Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Wunderkind, its impact, and alignment with company values. Dive into cultural celebrations, learning opportunities, and philanthropic initiatives that make this ERG shine. Discover Hispanic heritage and its significance in this engaging podcast. Welcome to 'Somos-Kind Spotlight,' where the vibrant Hispanic community takes center stage.</p>
01:11 MIN
Describe the Origin and Purpose of Somoskind
05:15 MIN
Why Is Hispanic Heritage Month so Important?
04:49 MIN
The Importance of Education in Somoskind
04:40 MIN

Today's Hosts

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Vern Tremble

|Senior Director, Marketing, Wunderkind
Guest Thumbnail

Richard Jones

|Chief Revenue Officer, Wunderkind

Welcome to another episode of Individuality Unleashed. My name is Joelle Garcia. I'm a customer success manager here at Wunderkind, and I'm also the co- lead for the Somoskind ERG here at Wunderkind. I'm really excited for our conversation today. We're going to talk about Somoskind ERG in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. I have some lovely people here with me today, our panelists, Julianna and Sarah. Julianna, could you start us off with some intros?

Of course. Hi everyone. My name is Julianna Pillot. I'm from a small but mighty town in the south of Puerto Rico. I am also a co- lead for Somoskind and an associate director for customer success here at Wunderkind.

Yeah. And I'm Sarah, Sarah Casanova, a fellow Puerto Rican and a fellow member of the customer success team at Wunderkind. And I'm also on the leadership team as the philanthropy lead for Somoskind.

Joelle Garcia: Thank you guys so much. I also think it's so funny that we're all from the customer success side of the business and we all happen to be Puerto Rican, which is really special. So it's a little party over here.

Julianna Pillot: Yes.

But let's get into it. Let's cue those reggaeton horns. All right, so the first things first is we want to dive into a little bit more about Somoskind. Julianna, could you kick us off by describing the origin and purpose of Somoskind?

Absolutely. So Somoskind was created by the Latino community for the Latino community and our allies. And our purpose is above all, to present our community as the most professional, uplifting and inspiring manner across Wunderkind, but also externally. And so we're very much goal and philanthropic driven, and so I would love Sarah to walk us through some of those goals that we achieve on a yearly basis.

Sarah Casanova: For sure. We have two big overarching goals, and those are all achieved by various different things we'll be talking about today, but one of the bigger ones is building and fostering community. So we're really committed to offering a fostering a safe space for Hispanic people and our allies. So Latine, Latino, Latinx, whatever you want to call us. We want to make a safe space to go ahead and make sure that everyone's feeling welcomed, especially in the corporate world where a lot of minorities are still breaking that glass ceiling. So it's really great that we have that opportunity to create that space for everyone. And the second thing we like to do is create opportunities for learning and growth. So this will be any educational opportunities from learning about each other's countries because there's so many similarities with so many differences between all of the different Latinx countries and also different things like first time home buying, finance, mental health, things that may have not been offered to us during our younger years, in our different facets of education. We'd love to bring those to the workplace and get to celebrate and learn every day.

I love that and I love how you explained the way that we bridge that education gap a little bit. I know for me, being a remote employee, Somoskind has really given me a stronger sense of community at Wunderkind. It's helped me build strong friendships across the company, especially helped me kind of jump outside of that customer success bubble, which you wouldn't know it considering all three of us are in CS, but it's also allowed me to celebrate my heritage, my roots, and share funny stories with other people and connect. Sarah, I'd love to hear a little bit more about your personal journey and experience with the Somoskind ERG.

Yeah, it's funny you say we're all from customer success and I feel like that's the exact reason so many of the minorities within customer success end up in an ERG, right? Because me personally, when I joined Wunderkind, everyone was remote for the beginning because it was still during Covid times, but I also had just left the company and was just thrown right into Wunderkind. So I was really excited to work, but also felt really kind of alone. A lot of the people around me didn't look like everyone from my hometown. For example, I grew up in West New York, New Jersey, which is really just, it's diverse in the sense of Latino diversity. That's pretty much it. So it was nice to find a place that I could feel like I could be myself, and it felt a little more comforting and gave me a really strong tie to my heritage while being in Somoskind. So when I first got there and they were introducing all the ERGs Wunderkind has to offer, they're all wonderful. But I was sitting there crossing my fingers like, please, please, please tell me there's a place for me and my people foreign language please. And it was announced. I was super excited in that first meeting, I was immediately filled with such joy and acceptance. And with only 8% of tech workers being Latina, that's men and women, so women is even less. It was nice to have a place where I didn't feel so disconnected from my coworkers where we could share, like you said, jokes and familial stories and differences. And having that safe space to chat has really been a wonderful ride so far.

Honestly, Sarah, I think that's so interesting because I feel so similarly. In previous roles, I had been probably the only Hispanic person in a lot of other companies that I've been to before Wunderkind. And so it's felt so special to have a place like Somoskind to kind of connect with other people and not feel like I'm all by myself in this little bubble listening to my reggaeton and my AirPods. But Julianna, I'd love to hear a little bit about how you feel about Somoskind.

I think my experience was similar to yours. I also joined the company during the pandemic, so it was a great space for me to meet like- minded and with similar people with similar backgrounds. And my favorite part of it is it gives me a break in my day because we have all these things we do, but in the middle of that, you can always sneak to the Somoskind Slack channel and look at what the latest is happening, whether Sadia Cruz has a new Barbie doll or whether Bad Bunny has a situation happening. It's all going down in the Somoskind channel and it kind of gives you a breath of fresh air a break. And so that's what I love the most. Also, learning about other people's cultures, as we've all mentioned, and learning travel tips too. Who knew I was going to get all this from an ERG?

Yeah, no, it's really amazing. I think what's been so funny is seeing how the Slack channel completely pops off during pop culture moments. I mean, it was an absolute ride when Bad Bunny started dating Kendall, not only on the Witt interwebs, but on the Somoskind Slack channel too, which made it really fun at work.

Julianna Pillot: Exactly.

Joelle Garcia: But awesome. So enough about Bad Bunny. Let's dive into some deeper, more important themes here. So thinking about this time of year, it's really exciting because it's Hispanic Heritage Month, and we're currently right in the middle of it. And so I'd love to learn a bit more and share with those that aren't familiar why it's important and why it's special.

Julianna Pillot: So Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration at its core of our culture. It's a celebration of who we are, our identity, learning about each other, and it's also an opportunity for us to understand our contributions not only to the US but the world. And an interesting fact is that the reason we start September 15th through October 15th is that a lot of the independence days within Latino America fall within that timeframe. So we, of course love to celebrate and have a reason to now have two months, not just one month for ourselves. And so that's the why behind it. And like I said, it's an opportunity for us to learn not only about our own culture, but about each other.

Joelle Garcia: Yeah, it's really interesting because I feel like during this Hispanic Heritage month, I personally have learned so much about other countries in Latin America and Central America, and it's been really exciting. I think Julianna, you had a really great fact about the color TV, was it?

Julianna Pillot: Oh yes. I've shared this with anyone that has eyes and ears that wants to hear me or not. So I didn't know that color TV was invented and patented by a Mexican engineer in 1940. And you can Google that, it's true. And so those are things I didn't know before this moment, and I like that fact. I've learned so much more, not just about our contributions, but the effect that we have in sports. Over 2000 players in the MLB have been of Hispanic heritage, so there's so much to learn that we just don't know. And I love that this gives us an opportunity to capitalize on that and share out all those facts.

Joelle Garcia: Yeah, it's really crazy because it's not like it's something that we're taught in school. We learn about maybe the history of where it falls with America and the United States as a whole, but we don't really learn about our people and our contribution. So it's really special to have this moment.

So there has been so much that we've done internally with Somoskind, and as I mentioned, it's always a celebration with us and I would love Joelle to walk us through what we've done, what we plan on doing, and what our agenda looks like in the coming weeks.

Joelle Garcia: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's really exciting. We have so many fun things that we've already started doing this month and some really great things up and coming. So we had our general body meeting and had a really great turnout, and that was really exciting. We also hosted it for remote employees as well, so they could join. And then people had locations in Indie and New York City so that they could kind of tune in as well. We also hosted dance classes in both New York City and our Indie offices. We had a meringue class, salsa and bachata planned for this month. My favorite fact though, or I guess thing that's happened this month is that we weren't anticipating our Indie office to really love the dance classes, just based on what we've heard in terms of feedback for in- person events. And apparently this has been the biggest turnout they've had for an in- person event, and they're begging for more dance classes, so we got to give the people what they want, get them dancing. But some other exciting things that we've had as well is we had a cafecito hour in both our Indie and New York City offices. And it's really cool in New York City, we had a Puerto Rican coffee shop, bring in coffee to the New York City office, and one of the drinks was actually a coquito latte that I heard was really delicious and amazing. We also had a happy hour, and then we're really working to try and bridge that gap between remote culture and in- office culture. So we're making sure that people who wanted to participate in cafecito hour we're able to get a coffee local to where they live and then kind of expense that back and enjoy a little coffee chat with their peers. It's really fun, all of the things that we're able to do during this time of year. And I think even just decorating the office, having a playlist that people can contribute to is really exciting. I mean, I even saw today on Slack that I totally forgot we even have plantain chips in the office and passion fruit juice because we're able to kind of bring in those snacks for the month and share that with people. So really exciting.

Sarah Casanova: And everyone's given great feedback because if there's any party you want to go to, it's a Hispanic one or a cookout, but we're both up there.

We love a party. But enough with the partying, we've talked about too many fun things, it's time to bring it back and balance the education with the celebration. So Sarah, I'd love if you could walk us through how Somoskind isn't just a big party zone, but also a great space for educating as well.

Hey, I love to party, but I'm also a huge nerd and I love to learn, so it's still fun for me, so I'm happy to go over it. So one of my favorite things about Somoskind GBMs, especially even before I joined the leadership team and found out all the work that really we put into this, is that we get to sit around and educate each other, and that'll be on various topics. But one thing we do highlight every month is that we take a country, whether that be Puerto Rico, Cuba, Ecuador, whatever it may be, we highlight it for the month and we go over history facts, travel tips, people who are from there that made a really large impact. And we go that throughout the EBMs, and then sometimes some of our members from those countries get to share even insider tips, which is even better because it's like, oh, great, I can plan a vacation just by talking to my friends here at work. This is great. But yeah, it's really something that we love to do every chance we get.

That's great. And I think it ties in so well to Wunderkind's core values here and how we try and tie that back to everything that we do within the Somoskind ERG. Julianna, could you walk us through a little bit about how you see us tying those core values?

Absolutely. So one of the core values for Wunderkind is respecting people privacy and ideas. And that is absolutely at the core of Somoskind. We are, as I mentioned previously, a safe space for the Latino community and also our allies. And it is a place not only to share about our similarities, but also to learn from each other. So I feel like we've covered that repeatedly throughout the conversation, and it does ring true throughout Somoskind, and I'd love for Sarah to walk through some of the other core values that we also make sure that we hold true in Somoskind.

Yeah, so jumping off of respect, and something I didn't mention in the last education point is that every year we have a conversation around Cinco de Mayo and the cultural appropriation that it has become. It's a very fun event. People think about it as tacos and tequila and we all love tacos and tequila. But if you're going and celebrating at least a Hispanic owned business, that's at least a point in your direction. But it's so much more than just the event that it's been turned into. We've also held discourse around the word Latinx or Latine and how various members of the community love it or hate it. So we hold really a good space to have these conversations in places that people probably wouldn't have these conversations in their day- to- day, especially if you go home, you just kind of eat your foreign language you enjoy your life. And then one of our allies goes home and has whatever they want to eat, and they have no idea that people are talking about the semantics of how we should refer to each other. But it is something that's very important. And I personally hold near and dear to my heart, and I'm really happy that we have the space to talk about it. And then something else we do in terms of respect and just another one of our core values like carry each other or anything like that is that everything we're doing within the office, we also try to extend to our communities outside of the office because we are three of the lucky few that get to work in tech, like I said, and we have these opportunities. So with Somoskind, we have some philanthropic opportunities. Like the first one during Hispanic Heritage Month, I'm going to advertise a little bit, where we're having a fundraiser this month for Hispanic Heritage Month working with the Latinx Social Justice Network, which is giving funds towards children funds, towards the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and other organizations that are looking for funding just throughout the year. And we started on the 15th and we already raised$ 225. So things are looking up. And then we're also collaborating with other ERGs. So we have Serve Kind that we're going to work with at the end of the month near foreign language for another charity competition. So it's been really exciting.

Joelle Garcia: It's awesome because I feel like we've done so much this year to support our wider community, and it's just really exciting to see that there's still so much more left for us to be doing. It's great. And Sarah, can you remind us if people do want to donate to the fundraiser that we have for Hispanic Heritage Month, how can they donate?

Sarah Casanova: We have a link directly to our Bright Fund page, so you can just head over there, make an account and send over some money.

All right. Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk about Somoskind here at Wunderkind today. I'm so excited for all the upcoming events and I know that Bad Bunny is coming out with a new album in the fall. I know Julie's a hater, so we are not going to get into it. But Julianna, Sarah, thank you again. It was such a great conversation. And again, that's been another episode of Individuality Unleashed.