It’s September, and businesses have been quick to post their stereotypical memes and promote their fiestas all over social media. Lawyers are no strangers to these practices during Hispanic Heritage Month, especially in Latino-heavy counties.
It is not uncommon for law firms to sponsor or attend community events and activities surrounding this month-long recognition of Hispanic culture and traditions in the U.S. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, efforts to highlight their heritage have become the norm for law firms connected with their diverse Hispanic clients.
But good intentions don’t necessarily equate to proper execution. Oftentimes, whether inadvertently or not, businesses fall into inappropriate messaging or even racist campaigns that fail to honor Hispanic heritage. In 2022, your business can’t keep making the same mistakes.
Then, how should your business prepare for Hispanic Heritage Month in 2022? We share our expert advice as bilingual marketing professionals.
What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Contrary to how some businesses act, Hispanics exist for more than just a month. But there’s a good reason why we observe Hispanic heritage from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year.
In 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month observation was enacted into law. These dates are significant to Latin Americans because Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence from Spain for the countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile celebrates it on Sept. 18. Indigenous People’s Day or “Dia de la Raza” is observed on Oct. 12. All of these important celebrations fall under that 30-day period.
This is not to say that there are no other meaningful observances that occur throughout the year. However, the whole point of Hispanic Heritage Month is to celebrate the contributions of the Latinx community.
How do U.S. Latinos Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Latinos are good at doing a lot of things, especially at organizing the best pachangones or fiestas. According to a NielsenIQ poll, around 30% of respondents said they celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and their country’s independence.
Hispanics’ ways to celebrate are just as diverse as their cultures and traditions. For example, 44% of respondents said they organize parties at home, while others (35%) attended festivals or events organized by governments.
When it comes to celebrating, food is an important component of the party. NielsenIQ reported the most popular dishes are rice (84%), beans (71%), chicken (66%), beef (60%), and guacamole (60%). Among other popular dishes are tacos, pork, tamales, and enchiladas.
Local law firms are no strangers to these community celebrations and festivals. Many attorneys promote initiatives and sponsor events that empower Latino heritage. As an attorney, the key lies in HOW you celebrate.
Whether you sponsor Latinx community events or parties, here are our best tips to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in a respectful and culturally aware manner:
Be honest with your intentions
This should go without saying, but don’t be a try-hard.
If out of 365 days of the year, you have only shown support for your Latino community members for a month, then there’s no use in pretending that you are their #1 supporter.
Instead, you will want to approach Hispanic Heritage Month as an opportunity to reconnect with Hispanic folks and show genuine commitment to do better. We Latinos can see through some *ahem* dishonest attempts at targeting our communities without any meaningful interactions.
As long as you stay true to your intentions and share a more long-term commitment to inclusive practices, your Hispanic community will feel more comfortable with your Hispanic-focused activities.
Avoid stereotypical messaging
Do we all remember the Jill Biden “taco” comment fiasco, or are we the only ones? Yeah, don’t do that.
Hispanic people are not tacos or sombreros. Hispanic culture goes beyond the stereotypical imagery that media have perpetuated. If you really want to connect with the Latinx community meaningfully, you must recognize their different shades of diversity.
Pro tip: If you’re putting out celebratory messages online, don’t use stereotypical symbols and designs. Instead, you can post more general photos of your community and events that highlight Latino culture in a dignifying manner.
Speak their language, literally
What better way to connect with your local Hispanic community than to make an honest effort to learn their language?
If you’re tired of getting lost in translation (Quite literally sometimes), we encourage you to take advantage of amazing courses and resources to learn Spanish as a second language.
Before you commit to a full Spanish course, here is a manual with basic legal terms and their Spanish equivalents to get you started.
Hire and support Latinx talent
One of the best long-term commitments you can make to support the Hispanic community is by hiring and supporting Latinx talent.
According to Thomson Reuters’ Pandemic Nation research, Hispanic lawyers account for 5% of American lawyers. When it comes to Latina lawyers, representation is at a stunning less than 2%. Take a look around your office: If you see no Latinx representation, then you should wonder why that is.
Your local Hispanic folks will see your efforts to go above and beyond to invest in their community growth. And what’s more gratifying is that you will contribute to bridging the representation gaps that currently exist in the legal profession.
Pro tip: Hiring Latinx talent is a win-win situation that will greatly benefit your practice if one of your goals is to increase your Hispanic clientele. What better way to work with a population that is accurately represented at your firm?
Community outreach is key
Another sustainable way to celebrate Hispanic culture beyond a month is by promoting community outreach initiatives that can significantly improve people’s lives. We list some ideas for you here:
- Support a local nursing home
- Set up a charity to help kids and adults with disability
- Coach a youth sports team
- Start a local food pantry to alleviate food insecurity
Truth is that in order to start a community service project you first need to investigate what are the most urgent needs that you can cover. Your commitment to helping make the community a safer space will go a long way, and people will recognize you for your humanitarian acts.
There are plenty of ways you can market to Hispanics – Trust us, we know quite a few. However, one of the most impactful and rewarding ways you can connect with your Latino community is by acknowledging their cultural diversity and promoting long-term initiatives to support their growth.
If you’re still at that point where you just post a generic Hispanic Heritage Month Facebook post, we highly encourage you to take this year to change your strategy and celebrate in more meaningful ways. You will quickly learn the value of these deep connections.