Each year, organizations celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), recognizing the contributions of their Hispanic and Latino employees and educating others on Hispanic and Latin American cultures. It’s easy to see why. According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the number of Hispanic workers in the labor force has grown from 10.7 million in 1990 to 29 million in 2020 and is projected to reach 35.9 million in 2030; Hispanic workers are also projected to account for 78% of net-new workers between 2020 and 2030. These numbers, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) awareness and a humble curiosity about Hispanic and Latino communities are ample reasons to celebrate HHM in the workplace not just this year — but every year.
“It’s worthwhile for organizations to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because it shows that they value the diversity of their employees, their clients and the communities in which they operate,” says Helena Almeida, Vice President, Counsel, ADP. Almeida leads Adelante, ADP’s Hispanic and Latino business resource group (BRG). “It’s important to educate allies and supporters who don’t identify as Hispanic or Latino about our rich cultural history.”
What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is a celebratory period that honors Hispanic and Latino communities. It’s observed annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and was enacted into U.S. federal law on Aug. 17, 1988. The 30-day period during which HHM is celebrated is significant for several reasons. Sept. 15 is the independence anniversary of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, whereas Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, is also observed during HHM, on Oct. 12.
When is Hispanic Heritage Month?
In 2022, the first day of HHM is on a Thursday, and the last day is on a Saturday. The 2022 HHM theme, selected by the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM), is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” Annually, the NCHEPM selects the HHM theme, which then gets used by many organizations nationwide.
How Do You Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Work?
There are many ways to celebrate HHM at work. You can feature culturally inspired music, food, film and art, discuss Hispanic and Latino DE&I, host a discussion with Hispanic and Latino leaders or recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino employees. It’s crucial to ensure that your events and activities are respectful, inclusive and factually sound. Avoid singling out or otherizing your Hispanic and Latino employees. Don’t pressure them to participate or overburden them with event planning and logistics. Additionally, avoid Hispanic and Latino stereotypes. Do your research (this toolkit can help), focusing on education and fun while including as many Hispanic and Latino communities as possible.
“While Hispanic Heritage Month allows us to celebrate the threads and themes that unite Hispanic and Latino communities, it shouldn’t be assumed that everyone’s the same,” Almeida says. “There are multiple Hispanic and Latin American countries, and they are extremely diverse.”
To help you prepare your itinerary, here are five ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at work, inspired by ADP’s Adelante BRG:
5 Ways To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Work
1. Get your leaders talking
Having leaders discuss the significance of HHM communicates to other team members that your organization has committed to honoring the celebratory period and recognizing its Hispanic and Latino employees. You can also ask your Hispanic and Latino leaders to discuss their lives, career journeys and achievements in the context of their heritages, cultures and identities. For example, in an interview with Almeida during HHM 2021, Alex Quevedo, President, Human Resources Outsourcing (HRO), ADP, spoke to ADP associates about his life and career. Historically, other Hispanic and Latino leaders at ADP have done the same. Likewise, consider hosting a similar discussion to foster relatability, networking and relationship-building within your workforce.
2. Provide a DE&I update
HHM is the ideal time to celebrate Hispanic and Latino DE&I achievements at your organization. If you’re working on programs related to Hispanic and Latino populations — for example, building Hispanic and Latino recruitment pipelines, identifying and closing pay gaps for Latina women or fostering Hispanic and Latino inclusion — HHM is an excellent opportunity to discuss updates, next steps or even commit to Hispanic and Latino DE&I for the first time. You can do all this in a DE&I webinar led or informed by qualified DE&I professionals. For example, during HHM 2021, Drew Lewis, Vice President, Diversity and Talent, ADP, spoke to ADP associates about the organization’s DE&I Talent Task Force, designed to advance Hispanic and Latino and other underrepresented talent within leadership. Likewise, consider your DE&I journey, workforce and DE&I data. Where do you stand? What would an update look like for you?
3. Offer a cooking lesson
Food plays an important role in many Hispanic and Latin American communities. In fact, many regard a solid appetite as a sign of good health. Accordingly, consider hosting a culturally inspired cooking class or luncheon during HHM. You can share recipes, preparation tips and expose your employees to authentic cuisines. For example, during HHM 2020, Emmy-award-winning television producer and food blogger Nicolette Medina hosted a cooking class for ADP associates called “For the Love of Food,” sharing her family recipe for albondigas soup, or Mexican meatball soup. Could you arrange a similar lesson or presentation? For a health-oriented approach, consider hosting a healthy cooking class with a medical doctor or another qualified medical professional.
4. Feature a musician
The impact of music by Hispanic and Latino artists is undeniable. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), “Latin music continues to rise — powering the overall music market and reporting its highest revenue figure in history [in 2021] at $886 million.” Anitta, Maluma, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Rosalía, Enrique Iglesias, Alejandro Sanz, Gloria Estefan and many other Hispanic and Latino artists have amassed billions of streams across Spotify and other streaming platforms. Hiring these big names would be challenging, but you can still incorporate musical performances into your HHM itinerary. For example, during HHM 2020, ADP featured singer Innis, who shared his personal story, performed his hit song “Dime Dónde, Dime Cuándo” and answered questions from ADP associates. Consider whether there are talented Hispanic and Latino musicians in your orbit who might enjoy contributing to your celebration. At a minimum, you could feature a playlist of favorite music selected by Hispanic and Latino employees and distribute it for others to listen to on their own time.
5. Host a dance class
Hispanic and Latin American countries are home to numerous world-renowned dance styles, including salsa, merengue, samba, mambo, bachata and tango. Not only is dancing important in many Hispanic and Latin American cultures, but it’s good exercise and can be a fun educational experience. For example, Adelante BRG chapters have offered culturally inspired dance classes to ADP associates during past HHMs, teaching them new moves and exciting them for the month’s festivities. With movement in mind, consider offering a dance class on one of the above styles or another Latin style. You can host it virtually and in person to include your on-site, remote and hybrid employees. A qualified dance instructor, professional dancer or someone at your organization who’s proficient in a particular style can teach the class. Most importantly, have fun, learn something and be safe.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Work
Celebrating HHM in your workplace shows your Hispanic and Latino employees that you’re committed to honoring their cultures and communities. But it also forces you to learn more, do more and be your most supportive from a leadership perspective. As you plan, remember these six things: Be respectful, do your research, avoid stereotypes, represent the diversity of Hispanic and Latino communities and seek input from your Hispanic and Latino employees without forcing them to participate or burdening them. When in doubt, seek input from qualified DE&I and HR professionals. When executed tactfully, HHM celebrations in the workplace can be positive, thrilling and informative experiences for all involved, year after year.
“It’s about bringing people together,” says Adelfye Porter, Director, Sales Operations, ADP. Porter is also the events director for ADP’s Adelante BRG. “Even if it’s in a virtual environment, it’s nice to see names that you work with and others in different areas of the organization that you may not have met before. It means a lot to know that we all come from different places and can still come together and celebrate.”