AlertMedia’s ERGs Provide Safe Spaces While Advocating for Everyone

The company’s first-ever employee resource groups worked extensively during their first year to make the company a better place for all employees. Here’s what these groups accomplished.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Jul. 21, 2023
AlertMedia’s ERGs Provide Safe Spaces While Advocating for Everyone
AlertMedia
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If there’s such a thing as a “good problem,” it’s the one AlertMedia had after launching its first two employee resource groups. 

PrideAM and IamWomxn launched simultaneously in the summer of 2022 to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ women employees and their allies, respectively. One of the most challenging aspects of launching ERGs is driving engagement among employees and ensuring the task of creating events and programming is evenly distributed. According to Mariana Prieto, a Customer Success Manager who is on the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, this is where AlertMedia ran into a positive problem. 

“The main challenge we encountered is that employees were immediately eager to be involved and create projects, which was great!  We wanted to ensure members had bandwidth to see these projects through and remain fully engaged,” Prieto said.

This high level of enthusiasm was not accidental. Prieto and her colleagues on the DEI committee made sure to center the needs of employees when establishing AlertMedia’s first-ever ERGs, and leadership staunchly supported the new initiative. 

As a result, PrideAM and IamWomxn have been able to make a sizable impact on the company. In addition to fostering community and creating a deeper sense of belonging, the groups have spearheaded the creation of a new professional development initiative and helped make the company’s healthcare offerings and benefits package more robust.

Built In recently spoke with Prieto along with two other members of the DEI committee, Tony Marco and Monica Hernandez, about how AlertMedia’s ERGs were founded along with the impact they’ve made on their colleagues and the company.

 

On High Alert

AlertMedia specializes in helping companies keep their employees safe. Its team monitors and analyzes threats from around the world, ranging from active shooter situations to natural disasters. In addition to surfacing threats, AlertMedia’s platform enables companies to quickly communicate instructions to employees to help them remain safe in emergency situations. Its customers include Walmart, Samsung and Coca-Cola Bottling UNITED.

 

Team photo
AlertMedia

 

Meeting Employee Needs

AlertMedia’s DEI committee is made up of individuals from across the business who are passionate about creating a workplace where everyone can be their authentic selves. Prieto said the committee decided to launch ERGs after identifying a need for increased camaraderie and connection along with a desire for safe spaces to discuss important issues and solutions to them. 

While the committee identified a need for safe spaces, they didn’t presume to know what groups those spaces should be for. Rather, Monica Hernandez, Manager of Talent Acquisition, said the goal was to “create ERGs for employees that they want and believe in.” Groups for LGBTQ+ and women attracted the most interest in an employee survey, and thus PrideAM and IamWomxn were born.

The essential function of AlertMedia’s ERGs is providing safe spaces for employees to gather and share their lived experiences. Tony Marco, Director of Global Intelligence, reflected on the importance of having such spaces at a company.

“ERGs are a place where people can feel empowered to be their true self and not feel like they are being judged for who they are,” he said. “They foster communication with like-minded people who have experienced similar challenges in society, like being discriminated against or not having the same protections under the law.”

An example of how impactful such spaces can be comes from Prieto herself, who shared her struggles with imposter syndrome with members of IamWomxn. 

“I’ve never had such deep conversations with colleagues because I never felt like I was in a space to freely do so, but the ERGs and the DEI committee have changed this completely,” she said. “For the first time in my life, I feel like I fully belong where I am.”

 

“I’ve never had such deep conversations with colleagues because I never felt like I was in a space to freely do so, but the ERGs and the DEI committee have changed this completely.”

 

Creating a deeper sense of belonging among employees was one of the goals AlertMedia had for its employee resource groups. However, once these groups were fully up and running, they quickly developed ambitious goals of their own that would benefit more than just their own members.

 

Team photo
AlertMedia

 

Advocating for Everyone

Discussions are a big part of an ERG, and one of the many conversations members of IamWomxn and PrideAM had was about the company’s healthcare coverage and benefits package. For IamWomxn, the focus was on making parental leave more inclusive and possibly adding family planning benefits. For PrideAM, an issue was raised regarding healthcare coverage for domestic partners.

Both groups submitted proposals to HR to expand the scope of AlertMedia’s healthcare and benefits packages. Thanks to their efforts, parental leave now extends to both birthing and non-birthing parents, as well as to parents who adopt; fertility benefits are also offered and healthcare coverage is available for employees’ domestic partners. 

Notably, fertility benefits and healthcare coverage for domestic partners is not widespread. According to a 2021 survey from consulting firm Mercer, of companies with more than 500 employees, just 27 percent and 53 percent, respectively, offer fertility benefits and healthcare coverage for domestic partners. Prieto’s experience offers support for these statistics as she said both benefits were previously “completely unheard of” to her.

 

Support Straight From the Top

AlertMedia’s DEI committee and ERGs have been able to accomplish so much in part because they receive strong support from the company’s senior leaders. Marco said C-suite members promote DEI and make an effort to stay connected to the committee, including CEO Christopher Kenessey, who has met with each member of the committee individually. The company also prioritizes transparency and publishes data on the gender identity and racial/ethnic background of its employees on its website in an effort to remain accountable to its DEI goals.

 

Along with bringing changes to its healthcare and benefits package, IamWomxn’s members also took it upon themselves to act on a key piece of feedback from employee surveys.“IamWomxn is sponsoring and launching AlertMedia’s first, formal mentorship program, which is very exciting,” said Hernandez.

“Feedback from company surveys shows that employees want this and we are very happy to be able to provide this amazing opportunity.”

 

“IamWomxn is sponsoring and launching AlertMedia’s first, formal mentorship program.”

 

IamWomxn is currently putting the finishing touches on the mentorship program, which while available to all employees, will place a special emphasis on senior women in leadership sharing their career experiences and learnings. AlertMedia’s new mentorship program shows how a strong commitment to DEI can help people grow in their careers. While an ERG launching a new professional development initiative is an obvious example, Marco said that increased support for DEI in the corporate community broadly has been invaluable to his career.

“I have been in the business world for 30 years and remember a time when I worried I wouldn’t be promoted or would lose my job if people found out I was gay,” Marco said. “It was such a relief when DEI programs became an important part of corporate culture. I’m so happy to be supported and valued for the differences I bring to the table. Our DEI program has enabled me to grow professionally and personally, and I’m a stronger contributor and harder worker as a result.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images by AlertMedia

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