Written by Ana Marfil, Diversity and Inclusion Leader for Schneider Electric US. She manages the initiatives and efforts to drive a more diverse and inclusive company. She is passionate about helping others develop, and believes firmly that inclusion drives business performance.
Each year since 1968, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, with the purpose of recognizing the contributions and vital presence of Spanish-speaking people living in the US, especially from Latin American descent.
I am especially proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as I am now one of the nearly 59 million Hispanics in the US, the second fastest growing ethnic group after Asians. This is an opportunity for me not only to learn about and honor what my fellow Hispanics have historically contributed to America, but also to reflect on my own journey and identity as a Hispanic/Latina in the US.
I joined Schneider Electric 5 years ago in Mexico, where I am originally from. Coming from the banking industry, I was looking for an environment that valued innovation and flexibility, and that cared about people. I had heard great things from my network about the culture at Schneider, so I applied for a role at the first opportunity I had. I joined as the Talent Manager for Mexico and Central America, where I was able to design and implement a strategy to drive the talent management culture. I had many exposure and development opportunities and realized that Schneider truly values innovation and genuinely cares about people.
Two years later however, my fiancée got a job offer in the US from the company he worked for, so I had to present my resignation to join him. When I called my functional manager at the time to say goodbye, she offered me a US based role supporting Talent Management now for North America. I felt so valued as a talent that the company wanted to retain, and was thrilled because I would be able to continue my career with Schneider.
I became the first one in my family to have a job offer in the US, and even though this was a great source of pride for my family, they were very sad to see me leave. Though excited for the opportunity, I was a little nervous because I had heard of many instances where Mexicans have been discriminated or poorly treated in America. However, I was pleasantly surprised (and grateful) that from the day I arrived, the people I met made me feel welcome and valued.
I went through many life transitions the last three years: I changed countries, got married, became a mother, bought a house, moved to a different role. And all through those moments, my managers and coworkers were there for me. They created a safe space for me to overcome the challenges each transition presented, and enabled me to continue growing and delivering results. They focused on me as an individual, rather than on my ethnicity or gender. Also, the policies that Schneider has in place to support employees, such as the Global Family Leave policy, made it easier for me to navigate the transitions successfully. I also am proud to share that Schneider was listed as one of the Best Employers for Diversity by Forbes in 2019, based on an employees’ survey and Forbes’ research on companies’ inclusive policies and practices.
Coming to the United States made me realize that because of my ethnicity I was instantly part of a minority, however I have never felt isolated. On the contrary, working at Schneider in the US has made me feel proud of my heritage and the unique perspectives I can bring to the table, not only because of where I come from, but because of who I am.
Now, as the Diversity & Inclusion Leader for the US, I am proud to have the opportunity to support Schneider in its journey to be a more diverse an inclusive company. This is not an easy task, but I have the honor to work alongside passionate colleagues in our Employee Resource Groups, who firmly believe in making a difference and creating a culture of inclusion and belonging. They fuel and inspire me every day!
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity to celebrate diversity in another of its many forms. This month we will be celebrating at Schneider by raising awareness on the Hispanic community in the US, highlighting their contributions in many fields, such as STEM and military. Our Hispanic employees will also be sharing their stories on our corporate social media handles. We will also highlight the work that the Hispanic Professionals Employee Resource Group is doing to drive inclusion for the Hispanic community in Schneider.
This month is a great opportunity to reflect on how important it is to foster a space where we can feel valued just for being ourselves. Leaders have a huge opportunity to make a difference whenever they mentor, support, develop, and take a risk on a talent from a diverse background. This can make a huge difference in the life of employees, therefore impacting positively in the business performance. It has certainly made a difference for me.
About the Author:
Ana Marfil is the Diversity and Inclusion Leader for the US. She manages the initiatives and efforts to drive a more diverse and inclusive company. She passionate about helping others develop, and believes firmly that inclusion drives business performance.
Ana resides in Derry, NH with her husband, daughter and three cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, dancing, outdoor activities, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
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