The time is AHORA

Latinx professionals speak up

Read this story in Spanish.

In the fifth of a seven-part Employee Resource Group (ERG) series, we highlight the importance of AHORA, which is focused on building a stronger Latinx and Hispanic workforce by attracting, developing and retaining Latinx talent. AHORA means “now” in Spanish – and the name is an apt way to describe the group’s urgency in making a difference in the lives of its members and the communities where they live.

1. How would you define the mission of AHORA?

Cylia Troche, finance manager and AHORA chair:
We want to give the Latinx population a voice and make sure they are not only seen but heard and to be a place for them to feel comfortable in their own skin. We want to showcase and leverage that to make the Latino population stronger and more confident. We’re giving them the tools to step out and be impactful for the organization.

Stephanie Buran, business human resources partner, AHORA San Francisco Bay Area lead: 
AHORA provides a connection for people to say, ‘this is who I am and how I got here, where I came from’ and to come together over a shared cultural background that emphasizes the importance of family.

Anna Cortez, Southwest regional manager and AHORA co-chair:
AHORA is now and it’s our time to focus on our career pillar as we seek to cultivate a diverse and impactful Hispanic/Latinx workforce that will contribute to the success of AbbVie. AHORA is an important part of creating a workplace where everyone feels heard, empowered, accepted and valued for their unique perspectives.

Vanessa Morales-Tirado, principal research scientist, Boston-area AHORA lead:
We are diverse, and we are changing the face of America. Let’s develop skills together so we can attract Hispanic professionals, help them grow and keep them here. Let’s make these people the ambassadors for the next generation and to help the Hispanic community.

Refugio Atilano, director of strategic safety initiatives and AHORA communications co-lead:
It starts with our members. AHORA strengthens their development and leadership skills. The stronger we make our members, the better we position the Latino community for the future.

2. Around the world, calls for racial and social justice have increased in the past year. How has this impacted you and what AHORA is doing?

Cylia Troche:
It’s enabled us to speak about things in the past that may have been taboo and have real conversations to elevate underrepresented populations. In the Latinx community, many people follow the adage ‘work hard and get rewarded’ but it’s important to speak up and make yourself seen – and the social justice movement has helped people become more visible.

Anna Cortez:
This past year has been an education and we learned we have to celebrate our differences – whether they are racial, cultural or beliefs. These differences make our organization stronger, more creative and resilient. We’re also focusing on the concept of intersectionality and partnering with other ERGs like Black Business Network to reach Afro-Latinos.

Stephanie Buran:
The heightened awareness around racial and social justice and how it affects every human being makes this a topic you can’t avoid. It does hit home for almost everyone.

3. Why is an organization like AHORA important?

Anna Cortez:
As an immigrant, assimilation is something that I have always been accustomed to. I was always told to keep my head down and someone will notice my good grades or high performance. This past year has been an education. AHORA has taken an active role in investing in our own talent by starting a mentoring program for employees, increasing the amount of Hispanic/Latinx talent we sponsor to attend the Latino Leadership Intensive training, and sending more people to the HACE (Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement) Summit now that it’s virtual. There is power in numbers and if we can all collaborate to raise awareness, there won’t be a need for assimilation.

Refugio Atilano:
In the Latino community, many of our journeys are similar in how we’ve gotten here. It’s a tough journey and many of us didn’t have mentors; we had to figure it out ourselves. Now that we have this information, the question is what we do with it to help others. The power of AHORA is that we get to touch so many lives, now and in the future.

4. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected AHORA’s approach the past year and as you look to the future?

Vanessa Morales-Tirado:
While we lost the one-on-one in-person interaction, AHORA has gained so much because we’re now able to extend to larger groups and to locations around the country, like my chapter and the one in the San Francisco Bay Area. It lets us extend our message and help more people.

Refugio Atilano:
In the Latin community, social gatherings and in-person connections are so important. I can’t wait to get back together and am looking forward to creating those familial bonds with my fellow AHORA members.

Media inquiries:
Name: Alissa Bolton
Email: [email protected]