Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on our own biases, work to improve our understanding of racial differences,and recognize areas where we have gaps in our knowledge regarding systemic racism. Each of us is capable of working together to create a fairer world where social justice, equity and inclusion are at the foundation of everything we do.
The Black Experience Employee Resource Group (ERG)
At Vonage, we have a dedicated group of everyday people coming together to make a difference. The members of the Black Experience Employee Resource Group (ERG) support the development and engagement of Black team members while promoting a corporate culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Over the past year, the Black Experience ERG produced programming, educational opportunities and activities that emphasized the Black experience during the ongoing global pandemic and racial injustice.The Black Experience is committed to creating a safe space to alleviate the sense of isolation Black team members may have experienced in life or as part of corporate America. Through these events, allies are also able to learn from the experiences of their Black colleagues and identify ways they can be supportive and serve as an advocate to them.
“Promoting Black history is not only meaningful from a representation perspective, it also provides a wonderful opportunity for Black team members to feel seen and represented. Celebrating Black history is an opportunity for allies to affirmatively demonstrate their interest in appreciating the experience of others,” said Shenia Kirkland, Vice President, Legal Counsel, Commercial Law and member of the Black Experience’s Leadership Team.
Building a Community Through Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
ERGs are a great way to provide opportunities to team members to work together to build a community for people with a shared cultural experience. They also offer a safe space where the voices of underrepresented people who are often overlooked can be elevated. ERGs can even help allies or colleagues who do not identify with a specific minority group learn how to support colleagues from underrepresented groups, identify unknown unconscious biases of their own or understand how they can respectfully advocate for someone in an underrepresented group. Additionally, the collective support that colleagues can provide to one another in times of celebration or after traumatic events happen in the community is just another way ERGs can help raise cultural awareness within an organization.
Charting a Path Forward
As we recognize Black History Month, we want to commend the dedication of the Black Experience ERG. They have steadfastly invested in our Vonage community through their work to support the development and engagement of our Black Vonage team members and allies. We support their ongoing initiatives as they remind us that Black History Month should not only be celebrated in February but the heroes, historic milestones and history should be recognized throughout the year.