More than 57 million Hispanics call the United States home. And their native languages, cuisines, beverages, art, and music have become integral parts of the daily lifestyles of Americans from all walks of life. Today marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. The September 15th - October 15th dates have special significance as seven Hispanic countries celebrate their Independence Day during, or in close proximity to, this period: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. HEINEKEN USA (HUSA) recognizes and celebrates the long and rich history of all Hispanics in the U.S., as well as their vast diversity and abounding contributions – including some of our favorite cervezas!
As part of the celebration, we interviewed four members of our HUSA family whose pride for their Hispanic heritage runs deep. They shared thoughtful perspectives about the selfless spirt and sacrifice of their beloved families and how their heritage is beneficial in the workforce. HUSA shares their sentiments that the best moments in life come from shared experiences with others, especially those we call familia.
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As HUSA celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, can you share what this month means to you? And how do you celebrate?
Dana Reinitz**** (Commercial Marketing Manager, White Plains): Hispanic Heritage Month means that the generations of my family that worked hard to get here are worth it! It also means that all the rich history we have is able to be celebrated on a larger scale.
Alejandro Carreon**** (Off Premise Sales Specialist, South East Houston): I think it’s important to embrace your heritage; many people shy away from it. I like to let everyone know where I come from. My family celebrates the 16th of September, which is the Mexican Independence Day. So I start celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month very early. I celebrate by participating in local Hispanic/Latino Festivals; I also enjoy having Carne Asadas with my family and friends, which makes the month very fun and memorable to me.
Jennifer Fleites (Regional Marketing Manager, Southeast Region): My parents came from Cuba when they were 9 years old, so we feel very integrated into American culture, but feeling proud of our roots has never left us. I don’t think we specifically celebrate it this month, it’s kind of a proud feeling we wear all the time and carry a sense of pride of where we came from.
Jamie Cedillos (Off Premise Sales Specialist, South Dallas): Hispanic Heritage Month is my dad drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola with his quesadilla. It’s the month I celebrate my memory of my grandma always cooking eggs with spam, or my other grandma making the best sopa de fideo and always adding a spoonful of butter to top off the amazing taste the soup has. It also means hearing my niece and nephew speak Spanish as their first language because they walk on American soil but bleed Hispanic blood. I celebrate it a little more this month because it’s a reminder of how beautiful my heritage is and where I come from. I celebrate it in the form of eating the comfort of my traditional home-cooked meals and talking an extra 10 to 15 minutes to my grandparents, because they are the root of who I am.
Tell us why having a workplace that places a premium on Inclusion and Diversity is important to you.
Dana: It is so important for me to feel like I am in an environment that accepts me just as I am; that’s when I thrive and my passion is able to show! Beyond that, data has shown that inclusive communities are communities that typically perform better. And who doesn’t want to win!
Alejandro: Inclusion and Diversity is what makes a company’s culture and helps it prosper more. Everyone is different, so it is important to respect and have a mutual understanding for each other. When companies value this, it helps create greater commitment from employees, especially minority groups. I think HUSA does a great job in making their employees feel like they are part of one big family.
Jennifer: I feel it is very important to have a diverse workplace and also a place where you feel like you belong. The world is so diverse and we need to reflect that in what we do at work and how we market our brands.
Jamie: I love working for a wonderful company that allows me to speak my native language while doing a sale at El Rio Latin Market, or where my boss sees there is a place for diversity and allows me to run programs within the Hispanic chains because he knows I can influence them in a positive way. I feel included and not displaced within the organization, and even though knowing that maybe we are not exactly where we want to be within the category of Diversity and Inclusion, I know HUSA is making every effort to expand the culture within.
In what ways has your diversity/ethnicity influenced how you have approached your position at HUSA?
Dana: I think I have a better view and mindset at who we are usually trying to target in my role. I do commercial marketing for the convenience channel and our shopper is typically millennial males!
Alejandro: Coming from a diverse background, I feel that it has helped me have closer relationships with my retailers, distributors, and colleagues. Having that open mind has allowed me to immerse myself faster with others and create valuable connections that have helped me be more successful. Speaking Spanish has also helped me with any language barriers you would typically have with some of our customers.
Jennifer: As a regional marketing manager in a very Hispanic market, I always ensure we have touch points along the way that connect with this important consumer who sees Heineken as a “badge” brand.
Jamie: I appreciate my current boss, David York, allowing me to take charge of the Hispanic chains in Dallas because I love to walk into these accounts and run programs that I know carry a little bit of home. I try to take what I have experienced, for example, my dad filling up the chest with Tecate Light for family parties, or how my fiancé Cristian will throw back a ‘caguama’ Carta Blanca because it reminds him of Juárez. I try to take my culture and turn it into a sale. “Come on, carry Tecate Light 18-pack cans, you know us Latinos, we never show up empty handed to a party, and we always get lazy to go back to the store for more beer – so sell them the big pack!” It’s always a laugh, but I almost feel as if the retailer gets a little memory from home with my sales pitch as well.
Building inclusive communities is an important part of HEINEKEN’s Brewing a Better World ethos. We’d like to thank Dana, Alejandro, Jennifer and Jamie for sharing their perspectives on Hispanic Heritage Month and Inclusion & Diversity. Cheers to them and all Hispanics in the U.S. who celebrate the month!