Leveraging our authenticity to build our careers
By Chris Barrera, Associate Manager, Customer Engagement, HOLA Business/Employee Resource Group National Co-Chair
Around 50% of Latino students are the first in their family to go to college, which also means many of us are the first in our family to have a corporate job. We often don’t have family members to turn to for advice, unlike our non-Latino counterparts. This can leave us at a significant disadvantage. Non-Latinos may not understand that, in our culture, advocating for ourselves is often difficult. It’s not something we are raised to do, yet it’s essential to build and advance our careers.
Fortunately, at Kellogg, we embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion and benefit from insights like the above. This work is possible through our eight Business/Employee Resource Groups (B/ERGs) help create an environment of belonging, enabling us to bring our authentic, whole selves to work and achieve our full potential. B/ERGs like ¡Hola! for Latino employees are so important and make such an impact. As a National Co-Chair, I know first-hand that we help bridge gaps and create opportunities for people who share similar experiences.
I was excited to see this commitment come to life at the recent Development Days, hosted by our ¡Hola! Latino B/ERG. This Oct. 11-12 in-person and virtual program at our Battle Creek, Michigan world headquarters brought together more than 50 employees and guest speakers for powerful discussions and skill development around courage, strategic thinking, and career development. We talked about everything from mental health to our “personal board of directors” comprised of mentors, sponsors, and allies. Sessions on presentation skills and storytelling expanded our professional knowledge. We enjoyed the Volunteer Power Hour, where we built snack packs to donate to local organizations. And the roundtable discussion with senior Latino leaders at Kellogg was so insightful. We ended the night with a networking dinner with our North America senior leaders who were able to share the impact ¡Hola! has made on the business. One of my favorite parts of the dinner was when a senior leader went around the table and took time to ask each of us about our family heritage and our Kellogg journey – the personal connection brought to this event made it so meaningful.
My favorite session was a workshop focused on leveraging our authenticity as a catalyst for our careers. We talked about our personal and professional brands and how to understand our unique value propositions. A lot of the conversation focused on leaning into self-advocacy and self-promotion as we lead authentically. We frequently spoke in Spanish during sessions or while socializing, defaulting to one of our commonalities: language. The impact of speaking Spanish at work with our peers is difficult to capture into words, but it truly creates a sense of comfort and unity, especially for those whose native language is Spanish.
Creating Development Days took enormous work by our entire committee, but it was extremely rewarding. I will leverage this experience as I build my personal network, advocate for myself, and bring my most authentic self to work every day. These learning opportunities are important at Kellogg and have helped me throughout my eight-year career here. I began in sales in Houston right after college, then moved into sales learning and development and earned my MBA. Today, I feel much better prepared to work toward that next step in my career, whatever it might be.
This is your business. Own it!
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