Power of Connection


Facebook is the company we can’t seem to go a day without. With more than two billion daily users worldwide, and 186 million in the U.S. and Canada, Facebook is likely the place where you connect with the people you love, and get the information you need. If you love Facebook, perhaps you might dream of working there one day. And who wouldn’t? Facebook is one of the largest and most successful U.S. corporations.

While many tech companies in Silicon Valley have a low percentage of Latino employees, Facebook is actively doing something about it. Back in 2012, to encourage diversity, Latinos at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters formed the employee resource group Somos, meaning “we are” in Spanish.  Today, it’s known as Latin@ and their goal is to connect, support, and develop Latino and Hispanic employees at Facebook through four pillars---community, culture, career, and company. Latin@ now has two international and eight local chapters.

Zuraya Tapia-Hadley helped launch the Washington D.C chapter, where she serves as chapter lead. Tapia-Hadley is a native of  Mexico City and Washington, DC and joined Facebook six months ago as Public Policy Manager, US Policy. In this role she manages advocacy efforts and relationships with Members of Congress. Tapia-Hadley has several reasons for launching Latin@ in D.C. To her, it all goes back to the power of connection.

“I wanted to help those of us who are Latinx in D.C. to find each other and support each another as well as our Latin@ colleagues around the world,” she says. Through her contributions, Tapia-Hadley hopes to support Facebook’s efforts to attract more diverse talent and “be the change we’d like to see.”

Like Tapia-Hadley, Ashley Quintana wanted to be part of the Latin@ momentum, and has been the global co-lead for Latin@ since last year. Quintana is from the Bay Area and is proud of her Mexican roots. She serves as a Public Policy Associate Manager, Community Engagement. Her job is to make sure that Facebook is a good neighbor to their surrounding local communities. “I love working for Facebook. This company empowers me every day to strive to be the best and give back to our Latino community,” says Quintana, who has been able to see the impact of the group she helps lead. “It’s been awesome being able to see all of the amazing things that every chapter does.”

She recalls a success story about the Latin@ chapter in Seattle. They created Amigos, a summer mentorship program, in which Latin@ members were paired with Latino and Hispanic engineering interns. “We discovered that when students had a Latin@ mentor, they had a higher return rate to work at Facebook,” says Quintana.

“Throughout my career, I didn’t have a mentor,” says Ruben Andreu, who works as Manager for Global Supply Chain Planning. He immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico and has been at Facebook for three and a half years. He is a member of Latin@ but also a mentor for the subgroup called “Latinos in Tech.” Through an outreach program, Andreu speaks with minority students in elementary, middle and high schools, offering them what he wished he had gotten. “Some might think it’s hard to make it to Facebook, but we are trying to go out, guide them and motivate them to have careers in technology because we need them here,” says Andreu.

According to Jorge Olivares, many Latinos might not know what expertise is needed at a company like Facebook. “They might think that we only want to hire software engineers but that’s not true,” says Olivares, who came from Venezuela and has been working for Facebook as a Developer Community Manager at Messenger for two years. Olivares thinks groups like Latin@ can help Latinos not only get hired, but also become leaders at Facebook. “I think as the Latino community grows within Facebook it will empower other Latinos to grow within the company,” he affirms.

But since coming to a company like Facebook might feel intimidating, Latin@ wants to make sure that Latinos feel supported and can embrace their diversity. “It’s hard when you come and you don’t know anyone, but Facebook has done a lot of efforts to make sure that they hire our families because sometimes you need people to be around you that are like you and you just want to talk to them in your own language,” says Cindy Gonzalez, a first-generation college graduate from Colombia, who works as New Product Introduction Material Manager. Latinos at Facebook take on different roles within the company, but Gonzalez would like to see more in leadership positions: “I want to see more management in the future and I’d love to become a manager too in the next years. Just in general, we need to represent more in the management side.”

Facebook recognizes that diversity is crucial to its success, and these Latinos agree that working for the social media giant brings a great sense of pride. “As a Latina, it helps me open doors for others, and also for the company to have a new and different perspective, and that’s what they wanted,” concludes Tapia-Hadley.