AccessElite Well-being

Bringing DEIB to Life: Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month with Dolores Huerta

Too many employers are just “going through the motions” when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) – if they are doing anything at all. According to recent research, only one-third of companies require any form of DEIB training for their workers, and many of those are treating it as nothing more than a compliance checkbox. They put a few paragraphs in the employee manual or do annual training and call it done. 

But rich DEIB programming is something today’s employees want and today’s companies need. It’s “a critical part of any organization’s business strategy,” according to HR thought leader Paul Falcone. “Organizations with diverse boards, leadership teams and workforces outperform companies with more homogeneous populations.”

Combine that with the fact that 76% of American workers believe racism is a problem in the workplace, and that 37% say they wouldn’t even apply to a company that had negative satisfaction ratings among people of color, and providing DEIB programming in the workplace should be an easy decision. What’s harder, though, is executing on it – taking the steps to make it happen. 

 A case study in doing it “Better”

While many companies talk the talk, one mortgage and real estate company, Better, is walking the walk. In dedication to DEIB and in honor of National Latinx Heritage Month, Better recently partnered with AccessElite to host an exclusive employee event called Mi Casa Celebrations, a Q&A session with the extraordinary Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta. Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century, a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America (along with César Chávez), and the recipient of many honors, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The employees at Better had a front-row seat to Huerta’s online talk and the interactive event chat, which coincidentally fell on Mexican Independence Day. A 14th-generation Mexican American, whose family was “in the U.S. before there was a U.S.,” Huerta provided nonstop insights and inspiration, answering questions from the Better team and sharing the wisdom she’s gained from seven decades of activism. Here are three key moments from the conversation.

 What advice do you give people who want to make a difference?

I tell people, “Go out there and volunteer!” Whether it’s for the women’s movement, environmental justice, the labor movement, ending gun violence – there are so many places to get involved, and a lot of it is being done virtually right now. César Chávez once said, “When you go to university, you read about history, learn about history, memorize history. But when you join the movement, you make history.”

Elections are also super-important. To learn the political process, it’s really good to go out there and volunteer in an election – getting people registered to vote and encouraging them to vote.

 How do you introduce social justice to children?

The solution is in education – in the curriculum – starting in kindergarten. We need to offer ethnic studies, gender studies, women’s studies, environmental science – we need to do away with ignorance in our society. The Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset said, “If you do not have an educated citizenry, then the corrupt and the greedy will rule.”

And for Latino children, it’s important to give them the history of our identity. They need to know that Latin America had huge civilizations – the Aztecs, the Incas – great civilizations, so they have dignity and pride.

 What gives you optimism?

I’ve lived a long time, I’m 91 years old, and I can look back and see the progress we’ve made. When I went to college, there was only a handful of us that were Latinos. Now we have a lot of Latinos, including Latina women, in state legislatures and in Congress. 

And racism is now being called out. Although it’s very painful, it’s a good thing. When I was growing up, nobody talked about racism but the people who were affected by it.

This is what gives me optimism. I’ve seen the changes, and it’s taken a long time. But going forward, we’ll be able to make the progressive changes we need in a much quicker time because you have so many more ways to reach each other. 

There’s so much more that needs to be done, and people who need to be reached. Our power is in getting the message out to other people. We’ve got to go out there and become messengers and ambassadors and activists to erase the ignorance that exists in our society.

 DEIB programming that empowers your people 

Dolores Huerta, a living civil rights icon, had a powerful effect on event attendees, providing important historical insights, empowering messages, and a unique opportunity for dialog.

 “On behalf of Mi Casa thank you so much for all of your hard work and support. We are so grateful for helping us in making this month happen. It has been incredible. Thank you so much!”

 “Yes! Muchisimas gracias a todos ustedes! Thank you all! This was the most robust heritage month Better has seen!”

 But this kind of robust DEIB programming doesn’t happen by chance – it has to be thoughtfully designed and developed. If you would like to take a more intentional approach to your DEIB programming, AccessElite can help. To learn more, visit us at https://accesselitenow.com, or reach out to connect@accesselitenow.com.

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