Leo Q & A

ERG Spotlight: CASA

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, members of Leo Burnett & ARC Worldwide’s shared ERG, CASA share the importance of honoring community, connectivity and culture in the workplace.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the success of creative teams across the agency – providing a safe space for individuals to share ideas, stories and develop authentic relationships. CASA is dedicated to helping and supporting Hispanic and LatinX talent in the workplace through advocacy, events, resources, and a sense of belonging.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, CASA members provide a glimpse of their journey in their first year as an employee resource group and the impact this community has had on their experience at Leo Burnett.

What is the origin story behind CASA?

Our LatinX and Hispanic community at Leo Burnett and ARC is incredibly diverse, but there’s one thing we have in common – we all are, in some way or another, tied to a land or to people who are not of here. Although this is where we live, our hearts also dwell somewhere else.

For those who feel like there’s a home not close by, what certainly feels like home is our people; the communities we build – coworkers with a shared origin become friends, and friends become family. We’ve seen it happen in our hallways, and we want to make those occurrences happen more often.

That’s why we created a space for Hispanics and LatinX individuals at this agency. A space that could feel like a place we belong to, just like a casa. A place we can all call home.

What is CASA doing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

CASA kick-started Hispanic Heritage Month by using one of the most amazing things from our culture, our food, to help others. For our first HHM event, we volunteered for the Ronald McDonald House preparing a nice Latin dinner for the families of children from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago that are staying at the Ronald McDonald house.

Throughout the month, CASA has partnered with the Joy series, providing everyone with the joy of listening to awesome artists with Hispanic and Latin heritage/origins, like Ariel and the culture, Karma Rivera, Tres Leches and closing with a live performance at 35 W. Wacker by Adam Martinez & Abel.

We love sharing our culture with others, so we hosted two virtual courses together with Adelante, Digita’s Hispanic and LatinX ERG. One being How to make Alebrijes, with Puech Ikot’s Carlos Orozco, a Mexican artist that guided us through the making and the story behind the tradition and the other being, Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Frida Kahlo with Luanda Lopez Herrera, the curator of an exhibition that has traveled around the world. She uncovered for us interesting Frida Kahlo facts, along with behind-the-scenes insights into the exhibition.

What are some of the biggest challenges the Hispanic community encounters professionally?

It’s often usual for LatinX and Hispanics to feel like they’re missing a voice that represents us and advocate for us with leadership, so hopefully CASA is giving more visibility to the community internally.

Finding inspiring mentors in positions of leadership is also very important for our talent to feel empowered and learn from others they can identify with, and sometimes this can be hard to find.

Another important challenge that we all need to help break is the perception that Hispanic talent can only work on Hispanic-targeted advertising. Being part of the culture might give these employees more insight for this kind of work, but it’s not our only skill, and we should not be exclusively boxed there.

Our culture really values together-time and physical contact. Finding ways to come together when we are back in the office is an important motivator, that frankly, just makes us joyful and happy.

What kind of support does CASA offer to help employees show up as their authentic selves, promote advocacy and create change in terms of representation in the industry?

CASA is always looking to celebrate our achievements, our music, our food, our costumbres, our Futbol, etc. Feeling proud of your culture promotes pride on being who you are!

We also find ways to invite and welcome people from other cultures to learn about ours. Both from a broad point of view, and more specifically, in marketing and communications. We think that we can find allies and advocates if we show others who we are. In education, there’s power.

We support speaking in our languages – Portuguese, Spanish, English. This gives people a little space where they can be themselves and in their native language.

How has belong to/participating in CASA impacted your agency work experience? Has it influenced your day-to-day job function or creative output?

These kinds of initiatives always pay us back with two very strong currencies–by adding meaning to what we do every day, and by connecting us to people we may have not met otherwise, but yet is part of the same community. It’s very work-changing in a life-changing way.

What inspires you most about CASA?

When we see younger talent joining and looking for some internal guidance. Whenever they realize there’s people like them that they can look up to, and that they can be part of, it’s really invigorating.

Can you share any CASA event & programming highlights from the past few years?

CASA is fairly new. We are just one year old but two absolute favorites have been partnering with Kaleidoscope to have Rochelle Newman bust many myths that exist about how to communicate with Hispanics, and a session brought in partnership with Conscious Mind where we talked to Dr. Machabanski about the grief that comes with migrating and changing countries.

What does CASA have planned for the remainder of the year?

There are still some plans before the year ends, but a big priority will be the World Cup. So far, we have prioritized education, culture, and volunteering, but the moment our teams hit Qatar, all we want to do is celebrate them together. We’ve worked hard and now comes the time to have fun!