Making cumbia accessible for all - an inter-ERG story
According to a study by McKinsey & Company, “Delivering Through Diversity,” gender and ethnic diversity are directly related to company profitability. The report also outlines how companies committed to DEI are better able to attract top talent, have increased customer and employee satisfaction, and enable improved decision-making. Companies that incorporate DEI into their strategy are better performing and have lower attrition rates.
One way to drive better employee engagement through the DEI lens is through employee resource groups (ERGs). SHRM defines ERGs as “Employee groups that come together either voluntarily, based on a common interest or background, or at the request of a company.” At WEX there are nine ERGs and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, two WEX ERGs came together to collaborate and produce a joint event celebrating both of their respective cohorts. The LatinX and the WEXccessibility ERGs are hosting an intersectional event tomorrow featuring Cumbia, a Colombian dance, in partnership with Dance for All Bodies. Dance for All Bodies is a nonprofit with a mission to dismantle ableism in the world, one dance class at a time.
What is cumbia?
This ERG event at WEX will involve a dance class where all attendees will learn the beautiful and rhythmic Colombian dance, cumbia. This courtship dance dates back to the 1800s in the coastal town of San Basilia. With a diverse cultural history, cumbia has now spread and evolved and is featured beyond Colombia throughout Latin America. The lively and energetic music, which features the flute and various percussion instruments, dictates the powerful dynamic between dancers. Traditionally, there is a leader and a follower. The movements of one dancer mirror and respond to that of the other dancer in an intense manner. The leader dances in circles and zig-zags around the follower who reacts, donning a colored handkerchief in their hand. This passionate dance and its rhythmic music have made a lasting impact on Colombia’s pop music as well as holding sway on the international dance stage.
The impact of this collaboration on ERG members
Both of the ERGs, LatinX and WEXccessibility, celebrate their participation in this inaugural collaboration. Nathan Coverstone, president of the WEXccesibility ERG, explained that he loves that his organization can partner with the LatinX ERG. “To be able to merge Hispanic Heritage Month with an event that is inclusive and accessible is a really neat opportunity.” Carlos Escobar, president of the LatinX ERG, is thrilled about the representation that this event brings to the company. “It’s not just about the dance but also the accessibility of it that we’re focused on in this collaborative event.”
ERGs at WEX
WEX has nine ERGs which serve as active communities, acting as touchpoints for various groups across WEX that share interests, cultures, identities, and backgrounds. These groups include: WEX NexGen, Women@WEX, Parents@WEX, WEXPride, WEXVets, Black Growth Council, WEXcessibility, WiT @ WEX, and Latin X @ WEX.
A history of the LatinX ERG at WEX
The LatinX ERG began at WEX in 2020 and it has grown from six members to its current membership of over 150 people. Escobar created this group in 2020 when inspired by the political and social movements of that summer. That August he submitted an application to form the LatinX ERG, and has built a community that allows people to get in touch with their cultures and heritages and bring their most authentic selves to work. The mission of the LatinX ERG is to develop a network of support, which embraces "Cultura" and Latin Heritage.
A history of WEXccessibility at WEX
WEXccessibility was created to give WEX employees with disabilities, as well as anyone who joins in support of their colleagues with disabilities, a sense of community and commonality. “The goal is to normalize disabilities in the workplace and help support anybody who is impacted by disabilities, whether that be having a disability themselves or having someone in their lives who has a disability,” explained Coverstone. Nathan has been with the ERG since its founding and assumed the role of president this past spring. Members can discuss challenges, share experiences, and identify opportunities to ensure that WEX remains a great place to work for individuals with disabilities. The group aims to educate its members about available resources and raise awareness about the contributions that individuals with disabilities make at WEX.
Nathan is consistently humbled and proud to be a WEXer. ”Not only because I enjoy my day job but the diversity, equity, and inclusion space and being part of an ERG has been impactful to me as an individual with a disability. WEX has an intentional approach with their investment in DE&I, which is deeply inspiring.”
Benefits of ERGs for an enhanced workforce community
ERGs provide an opportunity to enhance the employee community at both large and small companies. They bring together professionals in all departments to bond over shared interests and backgrounds. This exposure to diversity within a company can create a broader sense of belonging and raises awareness and empathy. With global companies, such as WEX, these ERGs bring together employees from all over the world, and can help to incorporate remote individuals.
If you’re interested in working for a growing and global organization that puts employees first, please visit WEX’s careers page.
Colombia Culture Site
Class Pop Magazine
McKinsey & Company