Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the rich, diverse contributions of Hispanic and Latinx people. Today, as Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we shine a light on some of our Hispanic/Latinx employees and their employee resource group (ERG), ¡HOLA! (an acronym for Hispanic/Latinx Outreach, Leadership and Awareness). Through the ERG, these employees and their allies are sharing their cultures and experiences to drive diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), empowering one another through career and leadership development, and engaging with Hispanic/Latinx communities outside the company through volunteerism. More than 750 employees across 14 countries belong to ¡HOLA!
“Like all of our ERGs, ¡HOLA! helps create community for underrepresented populations, their allies and advocates — all of whom are committed to helping recruit, develop, engage and retain talented individuals who are part of the same constituencies,” said Devray Kirkland, Cardinal Health’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “¡HOLA! gives Hispanic and Latinx employees and their allies a safe place to engage and share their experiences, and provides opportunities to connect with mentors and other supportive colleagues. Importantly, ¡HOLA! and our other ERGs are helping Cardinal Health to reach our 2030 goals of increasing representation of diverse employees at the manager level and above.”
Leading ¡HOLA! are Rebecca Falconer, a global director of organizational change management, and Leonard Valdez Jr., PharmD, a director of clinical operations. Falconer and Valdez encourage all employees to learn about and share the diversity of Hispanic and Latinx cultures all-year round. “We want to celebrate our heritage and educate each other and those outside our communities,” Valdez said. “Many people have biases, many of them unconscious, about Hispanic and Latinx people. But ¡HOLA! helps create greater understanding – and those biases begin to slip away.”
Steve C de Baca, executive vice president of quality and regulatory affairs, and Tony Johnson, president of Global Products and Supply Chain, serve as co-executive sponsors of ¡HOLA! “I’m proud of this ERG’s leadership team,” C de Baca said. “In addition to their very full ‘day jobs,’ they freely give their time and talent in helping drive greater shared understanding and strengthen the culture at Cardinal Health. It’s a pleasure to help support this important work.”
Throughout the year, the ¡HOLA! leadership team hosts events designed to engage and educate. Their signature events are monthly “cafecitos” – coffee chats with various Cardinal Health leaders. ¡HOLA! offers a mentorship program that pairs members with senior leaders to support career development, leadership development, and cross-functional learning. They also provide opportunities for connecting with the community through volunteerism. ¡HOLA! has collaborated with our learning and development team to create online learning opportunities about Hispanic and Latinx culture. For Hispanic Heritage Month, the group has organized more coffee chats, volunteer community service opportunities, virtual cooking lessons, and panel discussions, including that of a group of first-generation professionals.
“Participation in ¡HOLA! is a way for members to keep their families’ stories and traditions alive,” said Falconer, whose grandfather was from Spain and whose grandmother was from Argentina. “Family is so important to us; with our families, we celebrate often, sharing stories and traditional feasts. I think of ¡HOLA! as family – together, we celebrate and support each other.”
Valdez, whose mother arrived in California from Mexico as a child, agreed. “¡HOLA! helps build a sense of community at Cardinal Health. Everyone needs to see and hear from people who look like them and who share similar cultures.”
Read on to learn what other employees feel about ¡HOLA! – and about working at Cardinal Health.
Vanessa Reyes, manager, human resources business partner, medical distribution, Florida: I was born and raised in Costa Rica; my parents are from Nicaragua. I’ve been living in the states for only about four years, and being part of ¡HOLA! gives me a chance to talk and connect with great professionals who are from other areas of the organization. Most of them have in common their Hispanic or Latinx background – or a willingness to learn more about our heritage. It creates rich multicultural moments when we can all learn from one another. At ¡HOLA! and at Cardinal Health, we believe that everyone should be able to bring their whole self to work.
Leugim Deynes, advisor, medical distribution deal management, Ohio: ¡HOLA! is my home away from home. My father’s family originally is from Spain, but they were farmers in Puerto Rico – where I grew up – for many generations. The ¡HOLA! community is very welcoming, whether you are Hispanic or Latinx, or simply want to learn more about our cultures. I’m happy to have the opportunity to be together with other Hispanic/Latinx members, and share our history and culture with others who want to embrace it. Both ¡HOLA! and Cardinal Health are very inclusive and offer lots of opportunities to learn and develop.
Danielle Fernández Norkus, PharmD, BCPS, MTM fulfillment supervisor, patient engagement team, North Carolina: As a remote employee, ¡HOLA! gives me an important community-building vehicle, and a way to promote Cardinal Health’s growth as an increasingly diverse, inclusive organization. I love celebrating my Cuban heritage and uplifting our many beautiful Hispanic/Latinx communities. Cardinal Health is genuinely values-centered and intentional about pursuing DE&I. Employee growth and development are prioritized, and I’ve seen our feedback affect positive change here. It’s energizing to grow with an organization that provides incredible value to patients and customers while maintaining a strong, employee-first culture.
Diana Matamoros, strategic sourcing manager, medical national brands, Ohio: ¡HOLA! allows members to relate to and encourage one another, leveraging each other’s diverse heritage and backgrounds. I can share my experiences as the daughter of parents from Ecuador and growing up as a first-generation American born in Queens, New York. Cardinal Health is committed to ensuring the growth of diverse representation and providing talent with the resources and tools they need for success. As a Latina, I feel empowered by the exceptional leaders who have taken the time and interest in helping further my career and my personal development. I am grateful for the opportunity that Hispanic and Latinx employees have to flourish at Cardinal Health.
Eric Melchor, consultant, product systems analysis, Ohio: My grandparents on both my mom’s and my dad’s side are from Mexico. They came to the U.S. as migrant workers, gained their U.S. citizenship, then settled in Texas and Ohio. I have 14 aunts and uncles on my mom’s side and 11 aunts and uncles on my dad’s side – so I grew up with a big family and a great sense of community. At Cardinal Health, I feel a part of a wonderful work community. ¡HOLA! allows me to meet so many great people, and to learn about their diverse backgrounds and experiences. ¡HOLA! and Cardinal Health make all employees feel welcome.
Martha Ilariucci, talent acquisition partner, Florida: ¡HOLA! has opened doors for me to meet colleagues of various backgrounds and professional expertise. (My own background is Puerto Rican, Spanish and French.) My ¡HOLA! friends across the organization have helped me expand, adapt and promote initiatives in Latin American countries (LATAM), as we’re developing an ERG-like organization called a Multi-Cultural Community to serve all 10,000 LATAM employees. As part of Cardinal Health’s talent acquisition team, I advocate for Latinx employees and collaborate to promote their growth opportunities within the organization. Candidates often ask me what I like most about working at Cardinal Health. My answer: Employees are recognized for their talent and contributions regardless of their location and culture. Every day provides an opportunity for learning; we embrace diversity and value who you are, just as you are.
Ana Herrera, lead package designer, Ohio: Through ¡HOLA!, we’re able to support our members by nurturing their talents and minimizing hurdles in the workplace, and grow our own skills in the process. I wanted to support ¡HOLA! as a way of collaborating with other Hispanic cultures – not just my own Mexican heritage but all Hispanic cultures, to learn from others’ experiences, difficulties and accomplishments. So I’ve volunteered as the marketing/communications leader of the organization. That’s given me many opportunities to learn skills that are outside my day-to-day job responsibilities – and these skills have helped my leadership development path. ¡HOLA! keeps me on my toes as I learn, making it one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my nine years at Cardinal Health.