Sometimes in order to understand who we are and where are we going, it’s important to understand where we came from…what is our History…Where did HAPA come from?
Back in the 1960’s it was a difficult time for America. The Viet Nam War was ripping our nation apart along generational lines. The Soviet Union had taken the lead in the space race and we weren’t sure if American technology could catch up. In Los Angeles, the Watts Riots, the East LA High School Walkouts, Civil Rights act and many other things were happening that created a tremendous racial tension in Los Angeles. It was also a time when corporate America was starting to realize the value of what today we call Diversity, but back then we called Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
Fast forward into the 70s, and the times were equally interesting. Our Presidents were Nixon, Ford & Carter. We were flying to the moon on a regular basis. And the United States congress, to some controversy, adopted the word ‘Hispanic’ for the 1970 census. At the time few people really understood the significance of this move, but it was soon clear to everyone. For the first time, Americans with roots south of the border began reaching out to each other in ways they never did or could in Mexico, or Puerto Rico, or Cuba. For the first time we found strength in numbers that could be leveraged to create opportunities in the academia, in government, and in corporate America. And For the first time, we became one booming voice instead of many smaller whispers.
It wasn’t an easy transition, and even today we struggle with what it means to be Hispanic, but that one word set-off a chain reaction that is still expanding at every level of American society.
- I hope that gives you a backdrop of the times from which HAPA emerged.
The 7 founders of HAPA in Los Angeles saw the lack of diversity-company wide, especially the higher up the ranks we looked. They began to meet and flush-out their thoughts and debate the merits of our ideas about how to address the problems. They asked ourselves one simple question:
How can we make the Xerox workplace better for Hispanics and ensure Latinos were given equal opportunities for advancement?
In the beginning their first major victory was changing the face of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action forever. They convinced XEROX Senior Management to change how minority employees were counted. The US government asks for EEO reports to be categorized by:
- Majority male
- Majority female
- Minority male
- Minority female
This was traditionally called the GSA/EEO 4 bucket reporting.
After some arm-twisting, they got Xerox to start counting Hispanics separately on their reports. This single action more than anything else laid the foundation for the growth and expansion of our organization. They celebrated their first victory at Steven’s Steak House during our very first HAPA banquet in 1975…47 years ago!!!
Then they got serious. Efforts were expanded to mobilize Hispanics by creating a 501(C)3 non profit based on the innovative a Win-Win proposition between Xerox, HAPA and the Hispanic Community.
As a young organization HAPA had 5 goals and objectives in our business plan:
- Upward Mobility / Career coaching & counseling
- New hires in Sales & Service/ University outreach
- Monitor the Xerox employment numbers in ISG
- Have direct input to the Xerox Foundation to insure the Hispanic Community was including in our corporate giving.
- Expand Xerox’s involvement in the Hispanic Community, especially at the University level.
These 5 goals and objectives lead HAPA for many years. They directly influenced the name for our organization. The founding fathers chose a Mexican Pyramid as our logo because of the power and strength that they symbolized. We put an H in the middle of the pyramid to capture our new name. And we capped it with a flame to symbolize our desire for enlightenment and our commitment to education of the next generation. The logo was designed by Joe Gonzales of the Goez Art Studios.
In 1978 we scored another victory when we took HAPA nationwide for the first time.
Our model – partnership with, but independence from, the parent company – has become the standard model for nearly all Employee Organizations at companies across the country
This….is our history as described by Ray Mellado, one of the original 7 founding fathers of HAPA….
You have an opportunity to learn from our history, and to impact our future by the decisions and actions that you take moving forward. Whether you are an entry or mid level employee looking to advance your career, or a manager/executive that is in a position to “pay it forward” we all have an opportunity to be a part of the history…the history that we make every day with our actions.
Welcome to HAPA; we are happy to have you!