HOLA - Living and Embracing your Heritage Inside a Global Multicultural Company
By Iskander Sanchez-Rola | Senior Principal Researcher, Norton Labs
I am originally from the Basque Country (Euskal Herria in Basque), a beautiful area full of breathtaking landscapes and rich culture north of the Iberian Peninsula. Nowadays, I happily live in the French Riviera.
Let's talk about culture
To me, culture is that abstract concept that is always with us independently of where we are. It begins when we are born, and it shapes the way we are raised. It affects the way we interact with other people and how we celebrate things. It even guides our future steps in life. I've lived in multiple countries all around the globe, and I enjoy getting to know the local cultures. However, I still have a warm feeling inside me every time I eat some delicious traditional food from my region or when I hear the first few notes of a popular local song I enjoyed with my friends and family. I love to share my culture with other people, so I am happy to share when people ask me where I come from.
Why I became an HOLA Co-Champion
Finding those things that bring us closer together and learning from those differences help us understand our peers. It makes us better as humans. HOLA (Hispanic/ Latino Outreach, Leadership & Advancement) is the perfect opportunity to put this into practice. I try to bring in a non-American point of view to the team. I love working with my U.S. based Co-Champions, who may be based in the same country, but their heritage and journeys are very different.
I have not been involved for that long as a champion. Still, I can constate that HOLA creates an environment to celebrate, discuss, and embrace the Hispanic culture and its global impact. We are coming together and serving NortonLifeLock to unite and support employees: mentoring and celebrating their accomplishments and contributions. Moreover, we network with members and allies during our regular meetings, share news impacting our community, and celebrate our culture and heritage with all employees globally.
We wanted to tell a story about our shared culture
National Hispanic Heritage Month may be a U.S. celebration, but it applies to many countries. Latin America, extending from the deserts of northern Mexico to the icy wilds of Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Argentina, encompasses many diverse countries and peoples. Though most of these countries have various things in common, they have as many interesting differences and similarities.
We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our heritage and broader culture, to give a sneak peek into our world during a virtual event organized by HOLA. We recognized Hispanic/Latinos in entertainment and science, as well as some inventors who changed people's lives. We also played “La Loteria” (big part of Mexican culture), using beautiful vibrant artwork. We wanted to illustrate the regional differences in how we call specific things in Spanish – and the game got the chat buzzing with answers (and guesses).
The most personal part of the event was letting our colleagues come into our homes. We shared stories of our lives, our loved ones – and some fantastic family recipes, for example, Arepas, Chile Verde or Tortilla de Patatas. Food connects people no matter who you are or where you are from, so we shared our favorite Hispanic/Latino restaurants. Through discussion, we realized that we could create a "Food Map" to map all the amazing restaurants we collectively cherish, with numerous new suggestions. We were delighted that many allies joined the call to celebrate with us. For some, this was a discovery of something brand new.
We were delighted to bring our everyday life closer to our colleagues, to hopefully inspire them, and we will continue this journey.