Spanning from September 15 to October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is a national observation in the United States that honors the disparate cultures, histories, contributions, and experiences of Americans with familial roots in Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. It began in 1968 as a commemorative week and later expanded in 1988 to become the month-long celebration it is today.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, cities and establishments around the country hold festivals, cultural events, art shows, and other community gatherings. Seeing all of the festivities, you might feel inspired to bring that good energy into the workplace. But how? Whether you're a junior employee or a manager, here are some ideas on how to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at work.
This isn't a Hispanic Heritage Month activity but rather a requisite for having activities at all. Your employer may disapprove of you showing up one day with an armful of whatever and announcing an impromptu celebration. To head off reproof, speak with a supervisor to get approval for the Hispanic Heritage Month activities you'd like to have in the workplace. Also, try to include as many of your co-workers as possible in the planning. The best times, like the best societies, involve the contributions of a diverse range of people.
Food is not only a terrific gathering point but also an experiential gateway to cultures. What better way to commemorate a community of citizens than with a communal meal? With a potluck, you and your co-workers can sample the flavors of the myriad cuisines that make up the broad heading of Hispanic food while building the bonds that communal eating tends to foster.
Preparing a themed meal, even one in which everyone contributes individually, requires considerable time and coordination. Cooking involves planning and shopping for ingredients, and those who intend to bring professionally prepared dishes may want time to research and consider their options. With that in mind, start early. Toward the beginning of the commemorative month, announce the event and share a spreadsheet where employees can share ideas and call dibs on what to bring. You might also include links to local establishments where your co-workers can find ingredients, tools, or catering services.
If the teams at your workplace hold regular group lunches or dinners, that would be an excellent alternative to a potluck. Again using a spreadsheet, provide a list of recommendations for Hispanic restaurants and have team members vote on where to have the next team meal. Consider narrowing your recommendations to fare that your co-workers may be less familiar with, giving them the opportunity to try new cuisines and experiences.
"Food is not only a terrific gathering point but also an experiential gateway to cultures."
Word of the day
Language is another experiential gateway, and Spanish is a cultural commonality between Hispanic cultures. A word-of-the-day activity would be a daily occurrence. Begin by compiling a list of at least enough Spanish words or phrases for each workday between September 15 and October 15. Then, every morning, share the word of the day via email or a messaging application like Slack and encourage everyone to incorporate it throughout the day. At the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, you can even send out a quiz that tests everyone's recall of the terms.
Mastering and internalizing a language isn't reasonable, given that a month isn't nearly long enough to learn one, but that wouldn't be the objective of a word-of-the-day activity. Instead, it's to introduce Spanish terms into the organization's vocabulary and encourage everyone to participate in a fun challenge to learn and use new terms.
Item of the day
No need to stop at words. You can use email or Slack to introduce a different Hispanic item or event every day of the month. Some ideas:
- Beloved musicians or songs
- Culturally significant films and filmmakers
- Outstanding cultural works, such as books and paintings, and their creators
- Important historical events
- Traditional clothing
- Unique cultural events
- Idioms from different Hispanic countries
- Local Hispanic-owned businesses
- Prominent local Hispanic figures
Workplace social club events
Employer-sponsored social clubs have become fairly common in the workplace and are perfect for engaging in Hispanic-themed events. For example, the office book club could focus on a major work by a Hispanic author, the craft club could learn to make pieces native to particular Hispanic cultures, and the culture club could seek out Hispanic cultural events or restaurants.
Lotería is a game of chance and an excellent choice for a one-off activity. It appears to have originated in Italy but made its way to Mexico in the 1700s. It remains popular there today, as well as in Mexican-American communities, giving rise to the game's alternative designation, Mexican Bingo. And like that well-known matching game played in community centers, lotería involves boards with horizontal and vertical rows of characters. The differences are that lotería boards display pictorial characters instead of numerals, and the caller picks from a deck of cards rather than a tumbler of ping-pong balls.
The general similarities to bingo make lotería an easy game to learn, even among those unfamiliar with it. Also, the opportunity to break from work to play a game should come as a welcome respite for many of your co-workers. You can even up the stakes by introducing prizes, such as gift certificates to local Hispanic eateries or other Hispanic-owned businesses.
Many employers nowadays encourage their employees to do volunteer work in an effort to engage with the surrounding community. During this month, consider highlighting volunteer opportunities that relate to Hispanic heritage. Cities commonly have community organizations, arts coalitions, and other groups devoted to supporting causes that concern the Hispanic community. Find and reach out to these groups to discuss whether they'd consider collaborating with your employer to establish volunteer opportunities.
Suitable as either a one-off or a weekly activity, Hispanic-themed trivia is another fun and casual game to bring the workforce together with cultural commemoration as the centerpiece. Plus, given the span, diversity, and richness of Hispanic heritage, you'd have no shortage of topics to cover. Every trivia game played would provide opportunities to introduce co-workers to important events, figures, and contributions related to Hispanic cultures.
Not only that, but you can use trivia questions to set an informative foundation for the month. Consider this question as an example: "Which of the following is NOT a Hispanic culture?" Right away, you'd help define the scope of the month for your co-workers while they engage in play.
Here's a tip if you want a bit of cohesion between your Hispanic Heritage activities: Include questions that recall the various words, people, events, and facts introduced throughout the month. Again, you could incorporate prizes to make things even more interesting.
These are just some Hispanic Heritage Month ideas to introduce at work. We encourage you to think of other activities that can help you and your co-workers celebrate the importance of cultural heritage in both the workplace and society.
If you happen to be looking for a new job, you might want to look for opportunities with employers that make it a point to honor a multicultural workforce. Create a profile with CareerBuilder to notify employers of your availability and prioritize prospects that express dedication to diversity and inclusion.
More tips about celebrating diversity in the workplace
To understand the value that employers place on diversity, you may want to know how they approach the matter when it comes to hiring.
For job seekers, asking the right questions during an interview can help you gauge an employer's commitment to diversity.