As we start our celebration of Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month here at Equinix, it’s the perfect opportunity to shine the spotlight on what GenteConnect does throughout the year. One of nine Equinix Employee Connect Networks (EECN), GenteConnect provides a safe space to encourage the exploration of diverse perspectives around our languages, intersectionality and multiculturalism; it’s an environment where we can counter stereotypes and challenge perceptions.
“Gente” is the Spanish word for “people”. By bringing colleagues together in GenteConnect, we nurture understanding of our culture and gain support for our efforts to attract and develop Hispanic and Latino tech talent. We do this by curating programs and events that encourage, develop and advance our community and allies at Equinix.
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For many, the Hispanic and Latino community is hard to deﬁne. Simply explained, we are a large group of hard-working, passionate and values-based individuals who, in the United States, represent a diverse set of residents and citizens whose origins span from over 26 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries and a myriad of rich and fascinating backgrounds.
As the largest minority in the U.S., we are thought leaders, musicians, actors and filmmakers, athletes, doctors, entrepreneurs and top corporate executives impacting society, culture, the economy, sports, retail, media & entertainment, and more. Yet, we are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions, something GenteConnect is on a mission to change–at Equinix and beyond.
GenteConnect exists to promote Hispanic and Latino languages, cultures, and heritage while encouraging, developing, and advancing outstanding Hispanic and Latino talent, building cross-cultural bridges, and harnessing the power of our creativity and experience to expand the Equinix competitive advantage.
We encourage each member to celebrate what makes us different, while unifying our community toward a common goal: to Encourage, Develop, and Advance together. These are the three pillars that make up the GenteConnect Charter:
- Encourage: Promote career paths that lead Hispanic and Latino professionals to Equinix, broadening our global reach.
- Develop: Refine and harness the power of our talent to achieve personal and organizational success.
- Advance: Collaborate with senior leaders and executives to advance Hispanic and Latino talent while influencing strategic initiatives.
We use this charter to maintain our focus and guide the development of programs we offer to our members, including:
- Language lessons: Our diversity is reflected in our languages, which is why we facilitate Spanish and Portuguese classes. Additionally, we host English lessons.
- Mentorship programs: Since one of our pillars is member development, we help them connect and learn from other members in Spanish or English.
- Ambassador network: Our colleagues worldwide play a key role as ambassadors for facilitating the achievement of our initiatives and raising awareness of them.
- Professional development opportunities: By partnering with organizations such as LatinaVIDA™, Leading Change and McKinsey & Company, our members get access to forums where they can share and discuss topics that help propel them forward on their career paths.
My personal experience with professional development began when I was seeking a mentor who understood the challenges of being a first-generation Latina working in tech. That’s when I discovered LatinaVIDA, an organization that empowers and equips Latina and first-generation professionals to overcome workplace barriers through its leadership programs.
In 2021, I attended LatinaVIDA’s RISE Program which prompted the idea to bring LatinaVIDA’s culturally relevant content to GenteConnect and Equinix. We are now in our fifth month of our PODER (Plan. Own. Drive. Excellent. Results.) leadership program and continue to evolve professionally with each session.
Our partnership with McKinsey & Company makes it possible for U.S.-based Latino employees to participate in the McKinsey Leadership Academy. Graduates are paired with senior leaders to build relationships across the business, to access leaders with identified talents and applied learnings, and to have an advocate for their career aspirations.
Celebrating Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month at Equinix
GenteConnect has set this year’s theme as “Open your mind, Open your heart” which is intended to encourage Equinix colleagues to stray from imposed labels and perceptions that often stir up passionate opinions of preference. Our first event for the month will feature the GenteConnect leadership team holding a global discussion about who we are, what we do, and how we help our community at Equinix and beyond.
Two other main events feature role models: Erika Álvarez, NASA Systems Engineering & Integration Manager for Advanced Exploration Systems, and Peter Bratt, who is a Rockefeller Fellow, a Peabody Award winner, an Emmy-nominated, award-winning film director, writer, and producer, and a social justice activist. Finally, we’ll host our first ever in-person networking event featuring music, delicious cuisine, and more.
Making an impact beyond GenteConnect
GenteConnect has partnered with the Equinix HR and New to Career Recruiting teams to develop strategic messaging specifically for our Latino community. This includes the creation of impactful videos that highlight the magic of Equinix through our employees. These videos will be shared globally through media platforms and events during recruiting season and conferences such as the Grace Hopper Conference in September, which will attract over 30,000 women attendees from STEM and technical roles, including colleagues from Equinix.
Three of our EECNs have Women Leaders mentor circles and programs: GenteConnect, PrideConnect and YoungProfessionalsConnect. All of our EECNs offer reverse mentorship opportunities where senior leaders are mentored by employees from diverse communities. The criteria for the program can be based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, religion, gender or disabilities, with the intention to pair employees who are different in cultures, life experiences and professions.
Achieving personal and professional growth
As the Americas Program Manager for GenteConnect, my perspectives were challenged while learning the intricacies of creating, building and leading an employee resource group, a journey that has been instrumental in my personal and professional development. I discovered unknown strengths, experienced the elation of creating new connections and applied my passion for creating long-lasting change.
To learn more about how you can become part of this inclusive culture as you pursue your professional goals, I invite you to explore opportunities to join the Equinix team–worldwide.
You might also be interested in: Equinix Employee Connection Networks