Making a name for yourself in corporate America is no easy task. It is especially hard if you are the first generation in your family to attend college in this country and the first to take a stab at climbing the corporate ladder. The secret behind those who successfully make it to the top is access to a strong support group.
Finding the right support system, one that provides professional and personal mentorship and one that you identify with culturally, can help you navigate the business world and help you achieve your career goals.
Many Hispanic professionals have found that support system in employee groups (EGs).
What are EGs and how can they help Hispanic professionals succeed?
EGs are employee-led groups that foster inclusivity and build community. The purpose of the group is to provide personal and professional support to its members, who usually share certain characteristics in common – like being Hispanic, or those who simply have interest in learning about a culture that is not unique to them.
AT&T has 14 EGs, including HACEMOS, which was established in 1988 and is dedicated to supporting Hispanic employees and the communities they live in. There are 36 HACEMOS chapters across the country supporting more than 8,500 members. The Los Angeles Chapter currently supports more than 650 members – all in different phases of their career.
HACEMOS members believe that “Juntos HACEMOS mas”, which means “Together we do more”. Under that guiding belief, members work to support each other in advancing their careers. Through HACEMOS, AT&T employees can participate in various professional development opportunities and have access to one-on-one mentorship sessions with company leaders.
For many members, the group offers a safe environment to engage and learn from other professionals who understand their personal and professional hurdles from a cultural point of view.
At a personal level, being part of HACEMOS has helped me develop invaluable leadership skills that I have applied to my role in the External and Legislative Affairs team.
EGs provide members with a sense of community and belonging
Most EGs have a community aspect to them that allow members to work together to address needs in their communities.
In 2021, HACEMOS members in Los Angeles coordinated 10 community volunteer events accumulating over 100 volunteer hours. And through fundraising efforts, the group provided scholarships to five high school students to use towards their college degree.
This year, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Los Angeles HACEMOS Chapter and the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF) hosted a digital literacy event in English and Spanish, where attendees learned basic internet activities, including how to use a web browser and search engine and how to navigate a website.
EGs create a win-win for employees and employers
EGs are beneficial to employees and employers. It’s true, EG members are engaged and develop strong relationships with their colleagues from other departments resulting in a collaborative environment.
Also, the company benefits from the knowledge and skills EG members gain through the various workshops and learning resources. In addition, EG members serve as brand ambassadors in the community for the company while they participate in community volunteer events.
So, if the company you work for currently does not have an EG you identify with, it’s easy to build your case to launch one. And if your company has an EG you identify with, then I encourage you to join it today – I can ensure you, it will be a rewarding experience that can help you advance your career.
Monica Gibbs is the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of HACEMOS, a resource group for AT&T employees.