nCino’s affinity groups are organic, employee-led groups with a focus on building community and belonging among employees and providing resources to the broader nCino community. These groups also focus on recruiting diverse talent, encouraging professional and leadership development, mentoring and community outreach. Each affinity group includes executive sponsorship and a connection to the Diversity and Inclusion Council.
In this series, we’re excited to offer a deeper dive into the members and goals of each affinity group. This month, in celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting Mi Gente.
Mi Gente, nCino’s newest affinity group, was founded in 2021 by Edwin Estrada and Alejandra O’Malley and chartered in 2022. Mi Gente’s mission is to build a space that creates belonging regardless of how you identify, where you’re from, or what language you speak, and to support the empowerment, enrichment, advancement, and recruitment of Latinx, Hispanic, and Basque nCino employees. Aiming to bring cultural awareness and education to members and the broader nCino team, membership is open to all employees. “Mi Gente” translates to “my people,” with the hope being to create a community where members can enter a space and think “These are my people!”
“I started at nCino as an intern in June 2021,” says now full-time Associate Software Engineer Alejandra O’Malley. “I wanted to find a group that shared experiences and backgrounds similar to my own. I was surprised to learn there wasn’t yet a space specifically for Hispanic, Latinx, and Basque employees. When I voiced my interest in creating one, I was connected with Edwin, and within a week, we had a plan in place to charter Mi Gente.”
Mi Gente works with nCino senior leadership to assist in the recruiting, retention, and promotion of the Latinx, Hispanic, and Basque employee population, as well as to educate fellow employees on causes and celebrate events important to these cultures. The group acts as a liaison to bring Latinx, Hispanic, and Basque cultural awareness to the nCino employee body, as well as the leadership team. Outside of the company, they participate in community service opportunities and outreach programs to help minorities and underserved populations within the Wilmington community.
“When I first joined nCino, there was no Latinx affinity group,” says Victoria Zenteno, Product Marketing Manager. “I was so excited when like-minded colleagues proposed forming Mi Gente. Mi Gente acknowledges the intersection of identities in our richly diverse communities and is also a great example of one of nCino’s core values, ‘Respect Each Other.’”
Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. Celebration begins on September 15 in honor of the anniversary of the independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile observe their independence days on September 16 and 18, respectively. On Día de la Raza, which falls on October 12 (Columbus Day), many Spanish-speaking countries honor the cultures that were conquered by European explorers and fell under European colonization.
- Hispanic: refers to Spanish-speaking people who are from, or descended from, Spanish-speaking countries. Hispanic includes Spain, but does not include Brazil. Hispanic is more focused on the language spoken rather than country of origin.
- Latino/a: refers to people from Latin American countries, including Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Latino includes Brazil but does not include Spain. Latino is more focused on the country a person is from rather than the language they speak.
- Latinx: a gender-neutral form of Latino and/or Latina
- Basque: refers to people who trace their heritage to the Southwestern European region straddling the Pyrenees mountains between modern-day Spain and France. The Basque people speak Euskara, a language unrelated to any other existing world language.
This year, to kick off Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, Mi Gente hosted a Mexican Conchas Morning in nCino Headquarters’ Bitty and Beau’s café. Employees and affinity group members were invited to share concha pastries from Wilmington’s Los Portales with their morning coffee.
Mi Gente also hosted a meet-and-greet lunch for members and allies on September 23. Members, allies and friends brought their own lunch and met in the Bitty and Beau’s Café area of Headquarters as a chance for members and allies to come together and better get to know one another.
Later this year, Mi Gente will host a now-annual event called En La Mesa (At the Table): Stories of Food, Home, and Heritage, at which nCino employees share favorite family recipes and the stories behind them. The inaugural event was virtual, and this year we’re excited to be able to hold this special lunch event in person so we can share these recipes together!
Speakers from the debut edition of En La Mesa included Manny Sable, Victoria Zenteno, Mark Rothschild, Edwin Estrada and Alejandra O’Malley, who shared their Latinx heritage through stories of the foods they grew up cooking and enjoying with their families. Each panel participant prepared their dish of choice in real time on screen while describing its cultural significance and sharing familial history and associated memories.
“It was a historic moment at nCino when we had our first Latinx and Hispanic event, En La Mesa: Stories of Food, Home, and Heritage,” says Edwin Estrada, Product Manager. “We ended the event with a big promise. We told the company that our goal was to become an official affinity group at nCino within a year. We are proud to say that we kept our promise! Mi Gente means a lot to me and others like me because it shows Latinx, Hispanic, and Basque employees that we are important, recognized and represented. If we can gather around shared experiences through Mi Gente, we can build enough empathy between us so that we can begin to talk about the more complex issues we face, like racism, immigration, and inequality.”
Last year, Mi Gente also joined with nCino affinity groups the Diaspora and AAPI to present a panel discussion where employees shared how their families arrived to the United States and celebrated the cultures, experiences, and intersections of the panelists and their families. Panelists included Angie Vu, Britney Pope, and Edwin Estrada, moderated by Sara Izad.
“This group has given nCino the opportunity to work with HR and make sure we are looking in all the possible pools to find the best and diverse talent,” says Alejandra O’Malley. “It provides a platform to help educate and inform others about the amazing and diverse cultures that exist in this community and to help clarify misconceptions. It’s a safe space for anyone who wants to join and be surrounded by people who share similar backgrounds.”