As October unfolds, painting the days with the brilliant hues of fall, WEX reflects on its vibrant celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, passionately acknowledging and honoring the significant contributions of the Hispanic and Latin community that beautifully weaves into the social, cultural, and economic tapestry of our society. Hispanic Heritage Month, observed annually from September 15 to October 15, is not just a period marked on the calendar; it’s a symphony of histories, cultures, and traditions that resonate with the collective spirit of diversity and inclusion that WEX supports. With open hearts and eager minds, WEX embarked on this journey of celebration and reflection, striving to foster an environment where the rich heritage of the Hispanic community is not only recognized but celebrated with the fervor and respect it deserves. Join us as we share how WEX celebrated the month highlighting the exquisite mosaic of Hispanic cultures, and exploring the ways in which Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation and organization with their indomitable spirit, creativity, and relentless pursuit of progress.
Why Hispanic Heritage Month matters: Celebrating Latin and Hispanic culture at work
In the diverse and vibrant tapestry of American history, September 15 brightly marked the inception of Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration that had its humble origins in 1968 as a week-long observance and later expanded into a full month in 1988. This significant month is dedicated to highlighting the invaluable contributions, dynamic cultures, and the relentless forward march of progress epitomized by the American Latin community. Notably, the celebration coincides with the independence anniversaries of various Latin American nations, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile, weaving a richer narrative of independence, identity, perseverance, and shared history.
At WEX, Hispanic Heritage Month is more than a calendar observance—it is a vibrant celebration and a heartfelt tribute to the myriad influences and traditions that Latin nations and their people have bestowed upon the United States and our company. It is also a time to spotlight remarkable WEXers, individuals whose life stories and career journeys are deeply interwoven with the diverse tapestry of Latin cultures and experiences. This celebration of diversity at WEX, highlighted during Hispanic Heritage Month, but exemplified throughout the year, serves as a testament to the value of LatinX employees. Fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity, tethered to the rich perspectives and experiences of LatinX WEXers, sparks creativity and innovation that drives the company forward. To demonstrate our efforts towards creating an inclusive workplace, The LatinX @ WEX Employee Resources Group has adopted the term “LatinX.” This nomenclature is not just a matter of semantics; it is a bold statement reflecting the group’s unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive environment for all, regardless of gender identity, native language, or ethnic origins. It’s a term that not only embraces non-binary, gender non-conforming, and gender-expansive individuals within the Latin and Hispanic community, but also gives a voice to the indigenous, Brazilian, Portuguese, and non-Spanish speaking individuals within the broader Latin and Hispanic community. As we engaged in meaningful discussions throughout the month, sharing unique, diverse perspectives, we amplified LatinX voices and continued to build our community, based in understanding and appreciation.
To ensure an engaging and meaningful celebration, LatinX @ WEX meticulously planned a series of virtual events designed to not only commemorate the rich cultures of the Latin communities but also to shed light on the rising influence and importance of Latin culture in today’s corporate landscape. In a partnership with Visit.Org, a virtual art show was held to showcase the diverse talents of artists within the Latin and Hispanic communities. Art plays a pivotal role in enriching our cultural landscape and contributes to the vibrant web of creativity that underlines society.
A candid conversation was held between two accomplished LatinX executives– WEX’s COO, International, Carlos Carriedo and Visa’s SVP and Regional Head of Commercial Solutions, Veronica Fernandez. It served as a powerful testament to the importance of acknowledging LatinX contributions to the corporate world. Their shared experiences provide insight and hope to the many LatinX employees searching for their identity in the workplace. Krislyn Stark, Chair of LatinX @ WEX emphasized the need to increase dialogue on “the struggle between wanting to assimilate while maintaining cultural individuality.” Many minority employees grapple with this dilemma, highlighting the importance of organizations starting genuine conversations and taking active steps to support these challenges.
In the ongoing effort to create meaningful dialogue for LatinX issues, LatinX @ WEX also organized events raising awareness around the Latina Pay Gap. According to a recent Time article, “Latinas working full time, part time, and part year across every industry and sector are being paid an average of just 52 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic male workers.” This pay gap creates a deep-seated frustration and reflects the disheartening reality of economic inequality for LatinX workers. Shedding light on the systematic challenges they face may help to pave the way to achieving financial equity.
These events held this month offered insights, aimed to foster deeper understanding, and provided a platform for dialogue and connection among WEXers and the broader community.
Bridging cultures: A discussion with Carlos Carriedo, Chief Operating Officer, International at WEX
To continue the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, WEX’s Senior Integration Analyst and Vice Chair of LatinX @ WEX, Vanessa Mancilla, sat down with WEX’s COO, International and ELT Chair sponsor of LatinX @ WEX, Carlos Carriedo, for a unique spin on a traditional fireside chat, “Cafecito con Carlos Carriedo.” This candid and enlightening discussion with an esteemed WEX leader was just one of the events that revealed profound insights into the remarkable journey Carlos experienced as a Latino executive. Carlos, born in the vibrant and culturally rich landscape of Mexico, shared how he grew up with an adventurous spirit and courageously sought out opportunities to leave his home country and expand his understanding and education outside of what his immediate influences were. At just 13 years old, he attended a boarding school in Arkansas, then years later he graduated from Stanford University with an MBA degree– a feat that would launch his remarkable career.
From Deloitte to American Express, and now WEX, Carlos has exceptionally shaped the trajectory of his career, successfully navigating the intricacies of cross-cultural communication, work culture, and leadership. In his interview, he described the experience of being a Spanish-speaking Latino in a primarily English-speaking workplace as a “balancing act.” Employees from minority backgrounds often face the unique challenge of balancing the desire to integrate and blend into the existing work culture, while simultaneously wanting to embrace their distinct perspectives, knowing that different experiences shape different views. A diverse workplace can lead to a greater scope of ideas, expertise, and potential outcomes, meaning while the pull to assimilate in the workplace is strong, the opportunity to excel and drive change can be stronger. In fact, according to Forbes, “companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns” and are also “70% more likely to capture more markets.”
As a LatinX Leader and experienced opportunity-seeker and risk-taker, Carlos has several pieces of advice for other LatinX employees:
- Embrace the differences: Differences are chances to learn and expand. Information that stems from multicultural knowledge and experiences is a powerful catalyst for change. An environment that is dynamic and different should not only be valued, but also celebrated.
- Importance of reframing: Instead of “I have to,” he says “I get to.” Shifting the perspective from a challenge to an opportunity allows you to develop greater positivity and resilience for those tasks. Rather than bracing yourself for something ahead, get excited for the opportunity that comes with it.
- Quest to find commonalities: Remember that you and your colleagues have common goals. Finding the similarities in what everyone wants, helps to build a stronger, more cohesive team.
WEX comes together to support LatinX success
The LatinX @ WEX employee resource group (ERG) strives to strengthen and develop the LatinX community within the organization, by creating a network of support which embraces “Cultura” and Latin heritage.
As the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) Chair sponsor of LatinX @ WEX, Carlos Carriedo shared “Being ELT chair has afforded me the unique privilege of witnessing firsthand the inspiring perspectives, innovative ideas, and indomitable spirit brought forth by our team members, which have collectively been a driving force behind WEX’s continued growth and success.”
For WEX, embracing Hispanic heritage is essential. The unity that comes from a diverse workplace is how we find the strength to look beyond what we know. An innovative and empathetic workplace is what drives change and propels us into a successful and collaborative future.
For those interested in learning more about LatinX @ WEX and other initiatives, information can be found on WEX’s diversity and equity page. Explore how Latinx, Hispanic, and Latino-identified individuals at WEX contribute to making the company not just a workplace, but a community where diversity is celebrated, inclusion is valued, and every voice matters. For those interested in becoming a part of the WEX community, search jobs on our careers site.
WEX has ten employee resource groups (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 of WEX, Parents@WEX, WEXPride, WEXVets, Black Growth Council, WEXcessibility, Women in Tech @ WEX, Latin X @ WEX. and Asian Alliance.