Lo Vital Eres Tú: Embracing Diversity and Building Relationships

Explore the evolving celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, from personal pride to fostering workplace inclusivity, as we embrace diversity and intersectionality through meaningful conversations and community-building.

Bernardo Parlange, vice president and general manager, Lobster Ink

Today marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), a month-long celebration that honors the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans in our country. And this year’s theme "Lo Vital Eres Tú" resonates deeply with me. Translated as "What's vital is you," this phrase embodies our diverse and dynamic community. It reminds us that each of us plays an essential role in our organization, enriching it with our unique perspectives and experiences. 
Although I recognize the importance of HHM, I don't celebrate it in the traditional sense. You see, I am Hispanic, so in a way, HHM is woven into the fabric of my life. Every day, I wake up proud to be Hispanic, carrying my cultural identity with me wherever I go. For me, this month is an opportunity to not only celebrate my heritage but also to share it with others, especially those who may not be familiar with the richness and diversity of Hispanic culture. 
At work, one of the ways I celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is by actively participating in events organized by HACER, our employee resource group (ERG) focused on the development, representation and growth of our Hispanic and Latinx community. These events serve as a bridge, connecting people from different backgrounds and fostering a sense of belonging and understanding. While I am proud of my Hispanic heritage, I also recognize the importance of breaking down barriers and inviting non-Hispanic colleagues to learn more about our culture. It's a chance for me to share a piece of my identity and have open dialogue about the culture that shaped me into who I am today. 
Nearly 10 years ago, our events during Hispanic Heritage Month often focused on the theme of "How to be a successful Hispanic in the Workplace." While the intent was positive, it sometimes felt like we were encouraging individuals to conform to a certain mold of success. However, today, our approach has evolved significantly. We've shifted from trying to fit into preconceived notions of success to embracing our differences. Instead of prescribing to a single path, we focus on how diverse perspectives and experiences are critical to our success and growth as a company. 
Our conversations have deepened, and we've created opportunities for open dialogue. We want to ask questions, understand each other better and build bridges that help us move forward together. This work involves a level of vulnerability, where we acknowledge that we don't have all the answers and might have made past mistakes. As leaders, we must recognize our own errors and actively learn from these conversations. 
I recently had an eye-opening experience during Ecolab’s Building a Culture of Equity event in May, where I learned about intersectionality, a framework for viewing our different identities and how bias toward them often overlaps and compounds. It was a powerful reminder of how much there is to learn and understand about our diverse associate communities. By attending this event, I was not committing to a cause; I was committing to becoming better informed and broadening my depth of knowledge. 
This Hispanic Heritage Month, HACER is taking another step forward. The team is partnering with multiple ERGs to host an internal event that delves into the experiences of Hispanic and Latinx associates and the intersectionalities for them in the workplace and their personal lives. We want to explore how these intersecting identities shape their experiences and how they can be sources of strength.  

By continuing to hold forums that unite people, we can expand our understanding, foster a more inclusive workplace, and truly celebrate the diversity that strengthens our organization. Hispanic Heritage Month is not just a time to reflect on the past; it's an opportunity to build a more inclusive future together.

About the Author

Bernardo Parlange, vice president and general manager, Lobster Ink

Bernardo Parlange

Vice President & General Manager, Lobster Ink

Related Articles