September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, an opportunity to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of the Latinx and Hispanic communities. Stephanie Rivera Ortiz is one of the leaders of Latinx@Wayfair, an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Latinx employees at Wayfair. We spoke to Stephanie about what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her and how everyone can get involved.
Tell me about the mission and vision of Latinx@Wayfair.
Our Latinx@Wayfair mission is to build a thriving Latinx support network that results in both personal and professional development. We see ourselves as champions of cultural diversity, both within Wayfair and also in the communities where we're located and the communities we serve.
How did you get involved with Latinx@Wayfair?
I started at Wayfair in November 2020 in the Category Management team, and after those first three rigorous onboarding months, I ended up looking for the Latinx ERG distribution list and connecting with other peers that began in the same cohort. I connected with one of the co-chairs and started talking about the different objectives of Latinx@. I immediately volunteered myself to one of the committee co-chair positions, specifically External Outreach Committee.
Why does Hispanic Heritage Month matter to you, and why should it matter to everyone?
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for me to really embrace my full self, to be really proud of my origins and what got me here. Having the chance to celebrate that within the workplace really opens up the door for me, to not only embrace my full self, but also to share it with my coworkers in my daily work responsibilities as a manager and as a team member. That authenticity is important for me and it’s why I celebrate. On a more personal note, it's also a way to celebrate my mom and how she was able to achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer. Then she started her own business while she had two young daughters, which was definitely not easy. I don't have a family yet, but I can definitely see that strength and how she always stayed true to her goals, and to herself.
I also think it's important for everybody to celebrate the trailblazers that have come before us and that have raised the Latino voice. That's really why everybody should be learning –– not only Latinx and Hispanic people, but allies too. Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance to learn about the many contributions that Latinos and Hispanics have made.
How is Latinx@Wayfair celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?
We have approximately 8-9 events planned throughout the entire month. Our programming includes events around music, financial health, mentorship, and other career development topics. We also used HHM as an opportunity to launch our first digital newsletter, SOMOS, with the objective of empowering the voice of Latinx Wayfairians and showcasing their personal stories. On October 1, we hosted an event called “The Many Faces of Latinx”, which is all about understanding and celebrating the rich diversity within the Latinx community. We’ll close out the month with a lunch celebration.
What’s next on the horizon for Latinx@Wayfair?
We recently announced an exciting professional and personal workshop pilot that will be launching after Hispanic Heritage Month. The initiative is a three-way partnership Latinx@Wayfair, WayBlack, and WayNative, consisting of sessions on three key themes: understanding your strengths and superpowers, the importance of social capital and developing your network, and career pathing. If it's successful, we'll look to scale the workshop out even further, to all of our ERG communities.
Inspired by WayBlack’s partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, we’ve also been partnering with recruiting for the first time ever to target Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI). We've been attending virtual recruitment workshops with the University of Central Florida, and are looking forward to attending sessions with the University of California, Irvine and the University of Arizona as well.
One last question: how can allies show up in support of the Latinx community?
Joining the ERG really is the first step! We have a very active Slack channel with conversation about the news and issues impacting the Latinx community. For example, during the Olympics, we had a great time celebrating the different achievements of our many countries. Our events are another great way to get involved. We are proud to be a warm and welcoming community–– there is so much kindness in this group and so many learnings and experiences to be shared. Maybe you have a connection to the Latinx community, maybe you don't. Either way, just being open (and sometimes even vulnerable!) is key.
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