The Latino culture is steeped in rich tradition and a proud sense of community—and that’s just what our new VIVA KOHLER Business Resource Group set out to nurture at Kohler Co.
“At its core, VIVA Kohler’s focus is on helping with the recruitment, engagement and professional growth of Latinos,” said José Araujo, founding member and Associate Channel Manager – Kitchen & Bath Latin America. “We also focus on sharing our culture with others and performing community outreach.”
José, who came to the U.S. for college, worked for local nonprofit organizations serving the Latino community for almost ten years before joining Kohler in 2015. Since then, he connected with fellow Latino colleagues and the idea for VIVA Kohler started brewing.
“Last year, I was introduced to the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM), and it really opened my eyes to the potential benefits of a Latino group at Kohler,” explained José. “I knew it was time, so I reached out to Angela and Daniel, and we decided to go for it.”
He’s referring to Angela Araujo, HR Manager in our Power Group, who began working for Kohler in Monterrey, Mexico, 15 years ago, before relocating to Wisconsin in 2014. And, Daniel Heredia, Associate Market Research Manager, who’s originally from Colombia and made his way to Kohler through a series of career moves. Together with José, the three are the founding members of VIVA Kohler.
“We wanted to reach out to associates who identify with the culture, and work to address the internal and external challenges that affect diversity and inclusion,” said Daniel. “By working with organizations like HPGM, we’re able to provide valuable information around talent acquisition and professional development of the Latino community.”
So far, the group has been very successful, attracting an engaged (and growing) member base. “We had 65 members within the first two months alone, and we were quite honestly surprised of how many people were interested,” said Angela. She explained that the group meets regularly to share projects they’ve been working on, discuss upcoming events and continue to brainstorm for the further development of the group.
VIVA Kohler hosted Kohler’s first Latino Cultural event to rave reviews, and José was awarded the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee’s Community Leader Award in 2019.
“Starting VIVA Kohler is something we are proud of since we are representing a talented group of individuals and recognizing their contributions to Kohler,” said Daniel.
But, despite what you may think, the group is not just for Latinos. Angela explained, “Anyone who feels identified with the Latino culture or is simply interested in learning more about it is welcome.”
They currently have several members that were not born in Latin American countries but participate actively and add tremendous value to the group.
“You don’t have to be of Latino heritage to be part of our mission,” added José. “VIVA Kohler is open to anyone who wants to improve our culture and business, create connections within the company and contribute to an inclusive work environment.”