In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, NEW is amplifying the voices of some of the incredible Hispanic members in our community. This week's spotlight is on the incredible Brenda Ramirez, who spoke to NEW about her journey, how to be a better ally to the community, and advice on what to look for in an employer. "[Understand] if the organization is Inclusive," she says, "not just the word, but the action of how they continue to progress each day."
Name: Brenda Ramirez, Associate Vice President, BDS Connected Solutions
Member Since: 2017
How did you first hear about NEW, and what prompted you to join?
I first heard about NEW from the corporate ambassador representing NEW at my previous employer. She was involved with the local North Texas Region and invited me to join a Connect Event to network with other professionals. I then learned that NEW offered a variety of Learning Events and immediately became a member. Once I joined NEW I signed up as a volunteer under the programming team in my region and have been a volunteer since 2017. I now actively serve as a board member for the North Texas Region and support the Growth and Development Team.
What is your heritage?
I am Mexican American and my great great grandparents originated from Spain to Mexico in the 1800s. My parents were both born and raised in Coahuila, Mexico. My mother’s family moved to Texas to allow for a better opportunity, and we followed right behind them when I was 6 months old. My mother is one of 13 children that moved to Texas in the late 80s so you can imagine how many cousins I have. Our family is extremely united, and my parents still live next door to many of my aunts. In many Hispanic families, staying close is important and you will see that they live in the same communities throughout the US.
Tell us a little about who you are.
As a child I had to translate for my mother who did not know English when we moved to the United States from Mexico. I immediately had to understand how difficult it was for my family to communicate in every day life and went from a small child to a confident person communicating adult situations.
That really taught me that you may not always know exactly what is going on but asking questions will allow you to have a better understanding of the things you don’t know.
I am extremely proud of my heritage regardless of the challenges I faced as an adolescent. These learnings have allowed me to grow as a leader and be empathetic with culture differences.
Do you have any stories related to your experience as a Hispanic in the workplace?
I have always been surrounded in my career with people that don’t look like me or have my background. Going back 20 years my heritage and background only allowed me to work in certain areas of business. I was categorized to be the multi-cultural person or only work on Hispanic campaigns vs all corporate initiatives.
Fast forward to today, I currently work for an organization that really advocates for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
I am proud of the progress organizations have taken to allow diverse individuals not to be classified as who you are but what you bring to the table. One area of advice for those looking to make a career move is understanding if the organization is Inclusive (not just the word but the action of how they continue to progress each day) . Join an organization that values diversity that work towards including and engaging minorities to promote racial and gender equality.
If you could tell those who want to be better allies to the Hispanic community one thing, what would it be?
The best way you can help to support being a better ally is not just supporting the Hispanic & Latinx community on Hispanic heritage month but year round.
Other things you can do are:
- Reach out to your Hispanic friends, co-workers especially during these times. Hispanic communities have been hit hard as a result of social conditions with the pandemic and are 4xs more likely to be infected with Covid-19
- Don’t fear making a mistake, the allyship journey is to ask questions and acknowledge when you don’t know. This shows how much you care and want to learn more about the culture and heritage.
- Educate yourself with different cultures, history, and life experiences.
- Examine and face your own prejudice. Become aware of ways that you unintentionally stereotype other ethnicities.
What other activities do you enjoy in your free time?
I love spending time outdoors on my own or with my family. You can usually find me on the weekends at sports events with my kids playing soccer, baseball, football, or even a walk to the park. We love the great outdoor. Also, I love to host dinner parties and can cook you some of my favorite dishes.