In my early days, I grew up at my grandparents’ business. I watched them help customers as I played with my favorite childhood toys. I loved being with them and eventually became fascinated by their work. I paid close attention and quickly volunteered to answer the phone and assist with customers’ questions – a tiny 5-year-old assistant that could barely see over the counter! My grandparents left a legacy, and I learned the value of hard work in the business world from them. My grandfather came from Mexico and built a successful multimillion dollar business for his wife and family. I remember my grandfather telling me: “Always be a woman of your word. If you commit to something, do it.” It’s advice I have tried to follow every day of my life, especially in my professional career.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to share my story with you, celebrating a sliver of my family’s story, one that is threaded into the rich tapestry of America; after all, it’s the basis for my passion in my current role. As I reflect on how my career has come full circle, I feel fortunate that I continue to work for a Hispanic-owned company. ATR was co-founded 34 years ago by Maria and Jerry Brenholz, immigrants from El Salvador and Poland, respectively. In the past few years, their daughter Andrea has taken the reins as CEO. The entire familia is yet another wonderful example of the contributions Hispanic Americans make to our country.
ATR helps companies across the US manage their workforce needs and meet their business goals. We help people find fulfilling and rewarding work; we’ve connected more than 35,000 individuals with career opportunities since our doors opened. We are committed to ethical business practices and treat everyone fairly and without bias, always striving to do business with companies that share these same values. Our entire company actively supports the Hispanic community, especially its entrepreneurs, women, and those trying to grow their minority business. As a member of many organizations that promote Hispanic and other minority-owned businesses, ATR shares our experience and knowledge whenever possible, attending numerous events, serving on discussion panels, and providing important financial support where needed.
How Mi Vida Continues
My role as Head of DE&I is the embodiment of that commitment. As a Hispanic woman-owned company, we understand the importance of diversity and the specific challenges that arise in the business world. A more equitable, inclusive economy makes our country stronger, and we want to participate with like-minded people to help create that world. My own outreach is always reciprocal—I strive to learn and share knowledge in equal measure so our company can be a better advocate in furthering the cause of Hispanic suppliers and workers. We’re committed to continuous reflection and improvement in our internal efforts to create a culture that lives out those values. In fact, we recently implemented a new diversity training program to show our employees what DE&I means to us as an organization, complete with a company-wide survey. We are still learning from the valuable feedback we received.
Our company has been fortunate to be recognized as a top Hispanic business for our efforts and success by several organizations, including:
- US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Staffing Industry Analysts
- Silicon Valley Business Journal
- SVBJ also put Andrea on their 40 under 40 list and named her a Latino Business Leadership Award winner
- Stevie Award for Ethical Sales
- NMSDC’s 2017 National Supplier of the Year
Additionally, I was recognized as a DE&I influencer by SIA last year. I am a little uncomfortable mentioning all this—I know there are several other organizations out there paving the way for Hispanics! But at the same time, I am proud of what ATR has achieved, and I am extra proud to celebrate it during Hispanic Heritage Month. ATR is one of more than 400,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the US, a steadily growing number that employs millions of people and contributes nearly half a trillion dollars to the economy. To be sure, Hispanic-owned businesses are opening at a faster rate than any other group.
Those numbers represent the enterprising men and women following in the footsteps of my grandparents, Andrea’s parents, and generations of Hispanics who came to America in search of a better life. They represent our heritage of self-determination and hard work. They are following the tradition of generations of Hispanics who have made the United States their home. I celebrate my heritage, along with millions of other proud Hispanics, and I honor my family’s legacy. ¡Gracias Abuelo!
How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month? If you want to hear more about how other minority leaders are making an impact, check out my podcast, Latina Leading Diversity, to her more inspiriting stories!