As the fastest growing demographic with over 62.1 million Hispanics and Latinos living in the United States today, the importance of being loud and proud about our cultura is paramount — especially when celebrating our influence on American traditions through food, music, sports, fashion, politics, business and much more. 

On an individual basis, we know it’s important to give back to our community by mentoring fellow Latinos, supporting Latino-owned businesses (of note, we have become the fastest-growing small business owners across the U.S.), and being unapologetic about our pride in our language (yes, even Spanglish).

That said, several corporations are also on board when it comes to ensuring a better future for Latinos. While you’ve surely heard of General Motors (GM), did you know that they aspire to become the most inclusive company in the world? As part of that goal, they’re committed to advancing equity and inclusion both inside and outside the company, and to driving positive social change.

Jessica Ruvacalba, Director of Social, Editorial Content at mitú, recently moderated a LinkedIn Live Panel with GM to discuss the ways they are committed to driving meaningful impact for Latinos. GM Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Telva McGruder, its VP and Head of Global Public Policy, Omar Vargas, accompanied by Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino Interim Director, Eduardo Díaz, joined a conversation where each shared how they are leveraging their respective roles to help decrease barriers and advocate for equitable access and representation for those within our community.

GM is stepping up to the plate when it comes to celebrating and paying homage to our culture. The company recently made a $3 million grant to help bring to life the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Molina Family Latino Gallery, the first dedicated museum space celebrating the American Latino experience. GM’s museum donation is a testament to the company’s commitment to serving and uplifting Latinos and other underrepresented communities. This funding will support the GM Learning Lounge inside the gallery, which will be an interactive learning space where the Smithsonian will lead national educational programs that engage the community, enhance life-long learning, and increase awareness and access to their collections and resources in the arts, humanities, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Proving their dedication to nuestra comunidad, the company is already a long-time supporter of several educational programs for underprivileged youth.

As museum director Díaz said during the panel, Latinos have shaped and contributed to the national culture in the U.S. By recognizing and educating others about our contributions — both present and historic — we can challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about our community and work toward more accurate representation with a goal of an equitable and inclusive future for all. 

GM is a big proponent of challenging negative narratives about Latinos in the U.S., and the company’s inclusive hiring practices are one of the ways that show how GM is walking the walk. Increasing Latino representation is a priority for GM and as McGruder explained, the company has shifted its focus to skills-based hiring, instead of strictly requiring academic degrees, creating new pathways to jobs for those who historically have less access to formal education.  

GM is purposeful in creating new ways to “open doors for the Latino community.” And for those already on board? GM leans into their unique qualities instead of pushing them into a cookie-cutter mold, showing their commitment to empowering and developing Latino talent.

Of course, when it comes to driving meaningful change for Latinos in the U.S., policy and legislation are critical components. GM’s Vargas explained that equitable representation in the policymaking ecosystem is key to informing decisions made by Congress, and that museums and cultural institutions play a very important role in telling history and helping Americans understand a positive narrative about Latinos in the U.S.

Vargas himself, who grew up in a New Jersey urban community, derives from some of his personal experiences to advocate for issues that can positively impact the Latino community, and was even involved as an early supporter of the legislation that established the National Museum of the American Latino. 

Today, in his role at GM, he is a proponent for ensuring that diversity and inclusion are reflected in the company’s public policy efforts. Some of the issues where GM is most engaged include increased access to electric vehicles (EVs), infrastructure equity, safe and more accessible mobility, which can ultimately help remove existing barriers and lead to improved conditions in inner-city areas by helping to reduce pollution.

 “Moving humanity forward” is GM’s motto, with McGruder explaining that all companies should think about their community impact and should be reflective of real needs.

As Díaz described so eloquently during the panel, “the Latino community is additive, it’s not detracting. We’re not taking away anything, we’re adding. Adding to the culture, economy, education standards, [and] public policy decision making.” 

GM is one example of a company that is being purposeful in the way that it supports and advocates for the Latino community and we look forward to more brands showing up strongly to drive positive impact para nuestra gente