Tuula at HOLA 2019 Event

As a young girl growing up on a farm in Finland, I had an appetite to learn about other cultures. This curiosity and commitment to an open mindset has been persistent in my life. As an adult, I have been incredibly fortunate to live in six different countries, study six languages and experience a variety of cultures. In every country I’ve lived or visited, I’ve made it a priority to be culturally curious, learning as much as I can about the people, their customs and business norms. Especially in these times, when the world and its citizens need to band together and support one another more than ever, I believe the practice of learning about other cultures helps humans grow and exemplify empathy for others.

When the opportunity came up a year ago to be an executive sponsor of HOLA, Microsoft’s Hispanic and Latinx employee resource group, at first, I did not feel qualified since I’m not Hispanic or Latina myself. But as I learned and observed more, I realized there was an opportunity for me to be an aspiring ally. I say “aspiring” ally here because “ally” is a title that only the community can give to me, and I must earn it for it to mean anything.  `

When I started connecting at a deeper level with my Hispanic and Latinx colleagues, I had questions to try and better understand their community and how I could help:

While I will never fully understand the lived experience of the Hispanic and Latinx community, the mutual trust formed during these conversations has allowed me to learn from them immensely. For Hispanic Heritage Month, it is my privilege to share some of my most valuable lessons as an aspiring ally, particularly how we can support our Hispanic and Latinx friends and colleagues.

Aspiring to be an ally has been a meaningful and enriching experience for me. I encourage you to aspire to allyship, too.